The Republican senator from Maine, Susan Collins, is a woman who has given libertarians and conservatives headaches and caused their eyes to roll on a variety of issues. She voted to save the Affordable Care Act from repeal in 2017 and, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, she took painstaking amounts of courtship to finally give it her vote. Yesterday, however, she became the companion of all factions of America faithful to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the principles that underpin our justice system.
This is not because she has become the deciding vote in favor of Brett Kavanagh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, who some libertarians and conservatives find issues with because of some of his rulings regarding the Fourth Amendment. It is, instead, for her stance against mob rule and the inversion of justice in the #MeToo era, where innocence until guilt is proven in no longer in vogue; an era where “believe all women” without evidence has become the norm at the behest of far-left progressives.
From the lectern of the Senate, the moderate senator from Maine took anything but a moderate stance in defense of the principles of presumption of innocence that underpins the Western legal systems that have been painstakingly crafted since the days of the Magna Carta in 1215. Before the Senate, she said:
“Mr. President, I understand both viewpoints. This debate is complicated further by the fact that the Senate confirmation process is not a trial. But certain fundamental legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking and I cannot abandon them. In evaluating any given claim of misconduct, we will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be. We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy. The presumption of innocence is relevant to the advice and consent function when an accusation departs from a nominee’s otherwise exemplary record. I worry that departing from this presumption could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary and would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process moving forward.”
Senator Collins’ most crucial point is that the confirmation of Brett Kavanagh has, indeed, not been a trial; but that certain principles remain relevant. The fact that the confirmation hearings were not a trial has led many on the progressive left to state fundamental legal principles need not apply. Yet Senator Collins made clear that the fundamental principles of the presumption of innocence and due process do not leave her conscience when she leaves a courtroom, because their importance is not just to the functioning of our courts, but also to the functioning of a free society. Without them, witch hunts and kangaroo courts would abound.
Senator Collins says she cannot abandon these principles of law. Can the same be said for modern America? Well, if lukewarm moderates are becoming firebrands for saving our foundational legal norms, America may still have a chance.
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