So, this happened on State of the Union with Jake Tapper Sunday:
This is a tough one. What’s being done to Brett Kavanaugh is absurd. Obscene, even. And Tapper’s sentiments are spot-on, just as Sen. Mazie Hirono’s shockingly candid retort is gross and flies in the face of everything our country believes.
But … … … .
Jake’s actually kinda wrong here. The “presumption of innocence” granted to each American citizen is specifically in the context of the legal system. When tried for a crime, the court proceeds on the presumption of innocence until the prosecution proves the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is not a mandate for the court of public opinion.
Much like the currently ever-ready defense of censorship that goes (rightly), “X isn’t a First-Amendment issue—private companies can do what they want; the right to free speech is about government silencing of views,” in the same way, people (even senators) are totally free to prejudge another person’s guilt. That might make you a jerk, or a partisan hack, but it doesn’t violate anyone’s rights.
Now, it might be considered a different circumstance because Kavanaugh is being questioned, via legal testimony, on a matter related to government determination of his fitness for an official appointment. But that’s not a criminal proceeding. Feinstein and Hirono aren’t authoritatively evaluating whether to convict him on felony charges (though it may sometimes feel that way). It’s just a hearing to decide if he should sit on the bench of SCOTUS. They can be as cynical as they want.
Of course at this point, all four of the named “witnesses” have asserted clearly under penalty of perjury they have no knowledge of anything Brett Kavanaugh is being accused of. This is a farce and beneath the dignity of our public officials. They beclown themselves by the hour. But their actions are not unconstitutional, even if they are very much, in principle, un-American.
This is naked politics. A good man’s name is being dragged through the mud to protect the institution of serial infanticide. Tapper might technically be off-base having challenged Ms. Hirono with this particular question, but its force was exactly on-point. Perhaps he might have considered instead trying, “Have you no sense of decency, Madam?”