Op-Ed

'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' in the Balance: Will the Hit Job on Kavanaugh Succeed?

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“I just want to say to the men of this country… shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change.”

These were the words of Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono in light of the controversy surrounding the confirmation proceedings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

It was Sept. 12 when rumors began to circulate that an important letter pertaining to Kavanaugh and the confirmation process had been received by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and was being transferred to the Department of Justice.

Over the coming hours and days, it would come to light that the letter, initially written by an anonymous source and received by Feinstein in late July, leveled a horrifying accusation against Judge Kavanaugh.

The accusation? Kavanaugh had, 30-plus years prior, violently sexually accosted the writer of the letter, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, at a small party when she was just 15 years old.

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With the details of the accusation anything but concrete and Ford being unable to pinpoint exactly when or where the sexual assault had occurred, the Senate Judiciary Committee was heaved into disarray. The claim’s appearance in what was deemed by several senators to be “the eleventh hour” of the proceedings only stood to further complicate the issue.

Kavanaugh categorically denied Ford’s claim but agreed to his confirmation vote being delayed in favor of further hearings on the subject.

Initial reports from Ford and her legal team were that she would be willing to testify before the committee to tell her story. However, as the allegations were thrice categorically denied by Ford’s named witnesses and the fact pattern was found to be uncertain, Ford’s legal team and leading Senate Democrats moved the goalposts; asking not for hearings on the matter but a full FBI investigation into the allegations.

It was then that Sen. Hirono took the podium advising those men who disagree with her on the validity of Ford’s allegations to “shut up… and do the right thing for a change.”

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“Not only do women like Dr. Ford, who bravely come forward, need to be heard, but they need to be believed… I believe her,” said Sen. Hirono.

Audacious and troubling sentiments from a sitting U.S. senator.

Hirono would not only demand that the men of the Senate listen to, empathize with and believe Ford, but the freshman senator would set that as her “expectation” for them; going on to call “bulls—” on the GOP’s statement that it had made a wholehearted efforts to hear both sides of the story.

Hirono’s remarks made waves in the sphere of political news. Left-wing ideologues and talking heads took to the airwaves praising her as a strong and brave proponent of the #MeToo movement.

In return, right-wing media found her remarks to be antagonistic to the process of having a transparent and expedited look into Ford’s allegations. Conservative commentators found Hirono’s remarks to be disrespectful and degrading to any level of decorum left in the proceedings.

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These accusations against Hirono, however, entirely miss the mark.

Hirono’s calls for her opponents to “shut up” and “believe” Ford are indefensible and troubling. But not simply for their bluntness and agenda-driven slant.

It is the remarkably telling nature of Sen. Hirono’s remarks that must be placed on full display.

A sitting US. senator called for her opposition in an important national dialogue to not only listen and empathize with a potential victim but to believe her or keep their mouths shut.

This is the key distinction that must be noted.

It is of the utmost importance that we truly open our ears and listen to victims of sexual assault — that we attempt to understand and empathize with them and hear their claims fairly. It is an understatement to say that American systems have long shamed victims of sexual assault, revictimized them in coverage of their stories and brought them little to no holistic justice.

When just 2-8 percent of sexual assault accusations are proven to be baseless, it is key that we attempt to better hear out America’s victimized.

However, to demand that claims be immediately believed is another thing entirely. To believe the claim from the outset is to, in no small way, assume guilt in the accused. By asking that Ford’s claims be believed, Hirono demands that we as American citizens assume Kavanaugh’s guilt regardless of issues in the fact pattern and the process by which the issue has been brought before the committee.

Hirono’s rhetoric flies directly in the face of the American legal tenet that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; a legal principle made precedent by the Supreme Court in Coffin v. US (1895).

What’s more? Hirono has demanded that Americans, men in particular, who, upon listening to the presently available evidence, disagree with the merits of Ford’s thus unsubstantiated claims be silent and feel shame for questioning the story of the victim.

The pivotal issue to be taken with Hirono’s rhetoric is her disregard for the principle of presumed innocence in the U.S legal system.

This bears all the more weight when we recognize how indicative Hirono’s statements are of the modern left’s thought pattern in regard to every pressing political issue of the day.

The social justice movement has created a culture wherein a moral high ground is claimed by assuming guilt in, and attributing a disturbing motive to an opponent and proceeding to shame them into silence.

The left anoints themselves a champion of the downtrodden and make their case unarguable by attributing ill will to those who would dare disagree with them on the issue.

Once ill will is attributed to the opponent, they can be shamed in the court of public opinion and silenced.

Should this hit-job on Kavanaugh succeed, that mob mentality will enter into law. The burden of proof to ruin the lives of your political opponents will shrink, and conservative America will be back in the crosshairs.

Andrew J. Sciascia is an undergraduate Criminal Justice and Political Science double major at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is the managing editor for the Connector student newspaper and has previously contributed opinion pieces to The Western Journal and The Daily Caller.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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