The days can feel long when they are not your own. Sitting in jail serving a long sentence can feel exhausting from the beginning.
As has been the case with many recent presidents, former-President Donald Trump granted several pardons as he left office last month. Most notably, pardons for two people convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one of which was rapper, Lil Wayne.
While presidential pardons are relatively rare, they can carry some critical significance. Here’s what you should know about these pardons and why they are significant.
Changes in the Supreme Court
One of the reasons the “firearm possession by a convicted felon” pardons are important is because of a recent change in the Supreme Court toward the end of last year. In a highly-debated move, Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to fill the place vacated by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
During both her time as a circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and in her confirmation hearings, Justice Barrett made it clear that the idea of keeping all felons from possessing firearms might be too broad of a rule. In one of her dissenting opinions, she wrote that the limitation should apply only to “dangerous people.” Time will tell whether the subject will come up during her time on the Supreme Court.
It is not a clean slate
A presidential pardon works more like the infamous “get out of jail free” card than a way to start over after a conviction. While those who receive a pardon are typically happy to be free of their jail time, it is not a way to wipe the slate clean for the conviction.
A presidential pardon can restore citizens’ rights to where they were before the conviction and end any sentence they were serving. Still, it does not expunge the individual’s record. For example, in the case of a felony conviction, the individual receiving the pardon would still have a felony on their record.