This opinion-editorial was written by Joshua Willis, sophomore in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. If you would like to write an op-ed with the Collegian, send us an email at email@example.com to get started.
The Brett Kavanaugh hearings have demonstrated the willingness of many Americans to throw the rule of law out the window and replace it with mob rule. Sadly many Americans forget the bedrock principle of American jurisprudence, the “presumption of innocence.”
President and founding father John Adams believed in the presumption of innocence. We would do well to heed his philosophy of justice today: “Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
When Adams said these words he was in the midst of defending captain Thomas Preston and the seven other British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. On March 5, 1770, a crowd of hundreds pelted eight british sentries with stones, ice balls and other objects.
In the chaos the soldiers opened fire killing five men. Boston residents were outraged and wanted the soldiers put to death. John Adams was the only lawyer who would take their case.
Adams decided to defend these men because he believed they were innocent and entitled to a fair trial despite the feelings of the public. He realized he could lose his reputation and feared for his family’s safety, but he decided to defend the soldiers anyway. He believed in the importance of due process for everyone.
Convictions should happen only if there is probable cause that the crime was committed, not if the passions of a particular group call for a guilty verdict. Of the eight soldiers on trial, six were acquitted and two were charged with manslaughter. None were convicted of murder.
The controversy surrounding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrates how we as a society have embraced mob rule, instead of the principles of American jurisprudence. The allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh should be taken very seriously. All victims of sexual assault need to be heard and respectfully listened to no matter the circumstances of abuse.
However, in light of these allegations we also need to remember the foundation of the American justice system. No matter how serious the crime or how much the public hates the accused, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Due process should be given weight.
Due process protects innocent people and gives the guilty a fair trial. Kavanaugh is not being tried in court, but his character and reputation are on the line as he awaits a Senate vote on his confirmation.
Dr. Ford gave a very compelling testimony Thursday. My heart breaks for her and what she has been through. Both sides in Thursday’s hearing claimed to be telling the truth. How do we know who is right? The American people need to put politics aside and look at the facts.
As of now there is not enough evidence to prove Judge Kavanaugh is guilty and unqualified to serve on the Supreme Court. He is a distinguished jurist with an impeccable record who is qualified to serve on the court. The Senate should move to confirm Judge Kavanaugh immediately.
The truth matters. Imagine how chaotic society would be if a person could be convicted of a crime without the burden of proof! The Kavanaugh hearings have demonstrated that our society needs to be reminded of our founding principles. We should not be ruled by our passions.
It is important to have opinions, but they should not distort our view of justice. Mob rule is no way to govern. Let’s follow Adams’ advice and give every American due process.
Joshua Willis is a sophomore in political science.