Presumption of innocence, due process necessary for human rights

The presumption of innocence is constitutional, but the court of public opinion can execute you
The presumption of innocence is constitutional, but the court of public opinion can execute you

Throughout my ten years of playing football, I was fortunate to learn many valuable life lessons which have followed me around ever since.

There was the standard hard work and discipline, of course. Those would suit everybody well to learn and practice. Teamwork and sacrifice, sportsmanship and fair play were among the other lessons learned. Overcoming adversity and accepting defeat to a better prepared and more qualified opponent were perhaps the most valuable life lessons acquired.

But there was one lesson I learned, not taught in the weight room or on the field of play, that is as alarming today as it was surprising back then.

Don’t put yourself in compromising situations

When I was a college football player, we would report to school two weeks before the other students to participate in our training camp. Although they were long, grueling days under the hot sun, those were some of my favorite times as a football player because we kept to a simple script:

Sleep. Eat. Football. Repeat.

Every year as training camp wound down and the regular students were inching closer to returning to campus and moving into their dorm rooms, our coach would gather us together in the atrium outside one of our lecture halls to deliver his standard speech.

“Go to all your classes,” he would tell us. “Keep your grades up. Stay on top of your assignments and get to bed on time.”

Nothing revolutionary there. These are standard orders that most of our parents had already conveyed to us before we departed our homes for college.

But then he dropped a bomb on us that caught us off guard the way a flea flicker might surprise an unsuspecting defense.

“Don’t put yourself in compromising situations,” he added. “Because if you’re with a girl and she makes a claim against you … who do you think they’re going to believe?”

She doesn’t even have to tell the truth.

The presumption of innocence is constitutional, but the court of public opinion can execute you

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution contain a “due process clause.”

In essence, due process means nobody can be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without proper procedure — including, but not limited to, allowing the defendant to state his or her case.

The accused is presumed innocent until the accuser can prove him or her guilty, according to due process.

Due process and the presumption of innocence is a wonderful and important precedent that protects basic human rights. Unfortunately, although it protects life, liberty, or property, it cannot guarantee the protection of one’s reputation.

A simple allegation, no matter how preposterous it might be, can ruin a person’s life.

If a child is falsely accused of shoplifting candy, everywhere that child goes from that point forward he will be known as “that little thief.”

If a girl in high school is accused of being promiscuous despite her never engaging in such activity, she will continue to be known as “that easy girl.”

And if a man in college or out in the real world is accused of mistreating a woman despite having never touched her, he’ll carry the burden of being known as “that woman abuser” for years to come, if not the rest of his days.

There is no way to erase an accusation. It goes on the permanent record in the court of public opinion and becomes a potential life sentence for the accused.

Democrats publicly lynching Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the court of public opinion

President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is currently experiencing what it is like to face wild accusations and have his reputation sullied.

At the time of this writing, up to three women — at this late juncture of his nomination process — have come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct some 30 years ago.

For the record, my entire premise will shift from defending Kavanaugh to admonishing him if actual evidence is presented that proves his guilt.

But there hasn’t been any evidence brought forth yet, and there likely won’t be any to come. This has the makings of a completely political smear campaign by a minority party of Congress desperate to prevent the Supreme Court from having a 5-4 conservative majority tilt.

What’s worse is that these Democrats in power refuse to acknowledge Kavanaugh’s constitutional right to presumption of innocence.

“There is no presumption of innocence or guilt when you have a nominee before you,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

“It is Judge Kavanaugh who is seeking a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, and who I think now bears the burden of disproving these allegations, rather than Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez who should be dismissed with slanderous accusations,” said Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said that Kavanaugh not seeking a separate FBI investigation was “not the reaction of an innocent person.”

I would like to say I’m amazed at the callous disregard for our Constitution that the Democrats are displaying, but it’s nothing new from them. They want to fundamentally change America and they don’t believe in the presumption of innocence.

The presumption of innocence comes from a Latin phrase that means the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.” Thus, it is not Kavanaugh’s burden to prove his innocence as Sen. Coons claims. It’s on his accusers to prove their vague, unsubstantiated, and uncorroborated claims.

I feel bad for Kavanaugh, his wife and his two daughters that they have to endure this kind of onslaught from a desperate group of political hacks. The Left will stop at nothing to get their way. And if they do successfully bully the Republican Senators into not voting to confirm Kavanaugh, or if their smears force the honorable judge to withdraw his name from consideration, it sets a dangerous and frightening precedent for dirty political games to come.

And if that happens, I weep for the future of our great nation.