Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Roger A. Hanson
Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states that the president has “the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in the case of impeachment.” Pardons are orders that release an individual or group of individuals from the legal penalties for crimes they have committed. In the federal government, this power is solely in the hands of the chief executive, and it has historically been a source of controversy. According to received tradition, two of the cherished characteristics of American government are that the president, Congress, and federal courts can and should check one another, and that, as a result, these countervailing actions will achieve a desirable balance of power among the three branches of government. James Madison, a leading architect of the Constitution, propounded this view when he wrote in the Federalist Papers that an essential goal of a desirable The ...