In America, and in common law dating back to at least the Magna Carta, the accused are afforded a "presumption of innocence" and the right to due process before the law. This safeguard against tyranny is foundational to America's republican form of government.
And yet, as Brett Kavanaugh is currently fending off two accusations of sexual misconduct, many Democrats are calling the presumption of innocence inapplicable.
Indeed, these Democrats say, Kavanaugh is presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) have all flatly said Kavanaugh is not entitled to a presumption of innocence.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) made headlines Sunday when she said Kavanaugh didn't deserve a presumption of innocence as a consequence of being conservative.
"Doesn't Kavanaugh have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?" Jake Tapper asked on State of the Union.
"I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases," she responded. "As I said, his credibility is already very questionable in my mind and in the minds of a lot of my fellow Judiciary Committee members, the Democrats. So he comes, and -- when I say that he's very outcome-driven, he has an ideological agenda, is very outcome-driven. And I can sit here and talk to you about some of the cases that exemplifies his, in my view, inability to be fair in the cases that come before him."
Tapper tried again to ask if he's entitled to a presumption of innocence, and again Hirono said his past statements make it impossible for her to say so.
And she didn't just misspeak. The following day, she doubled down, telling MSNBC that the Senate is "not a court" and therefore Kavanaugh is not entitled to a presumption of innocence: "We are not in a court of law, we are actually in a court of credibility at this point. And without having the FBI report or some siblings trying to get corroboration, we are left with the credibility of the two witnesses. And I said, his credibility is already questionable in my mind, because one he misstates cases he misapplies cases, and as I said, t his hearing we cannot have somebody on the Supreme Court who does that, who doesn’t even get the basics of the law.”
Sen. Coons agreed, telling MSNBC's Katy Tur that now Kavanaugh is accused of sexual assault, he "bears the burden of disproving these allegations." In other words, he's guilty until proven innocent.
COONS: "If we were interested in getting to the truth here, both parties would be recognizing that Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez have nothing to gain. In fact, by bravely coming forward with these allegations, by volunteering to be interviewed by the FBI, they’re putting themselves at legal risk and they have already suffered some impacts for them for and their families. 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.”
Sen. Blumenthal was likewise asked if Kavanaugh deserves the presumption of innocence, and he again said no.
BLUMENTHAL: “We’re talking about a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court that will make a real difference in real people’s lives for generations, literally generations to come with this appointment. And so we have a constitutional duty to get to the bottom of these allegations. They are serious, and credible, and now the person with the most knowledge about them, namely Judge Brett Kavanaugh has a responsibility to come forward with evidence to rebut them. They have control over whether to have an investigation. They have control over whether Mark Judge is subpoenaed to testify, whether other witnesses are required to come forward. This investigation has to bring those other witnesses before the United States Senate. And so there need to be other hearing.”
Finally, Sen. Schumer added his name to the list of Democrats who say the presumption of innocence is no longer useful to Western Civilization.
REPORTER: “Mr. Schumer, Leader McConnell just said that Judge Kavanaugh ‘deserves the presumption of innocence.’ Do you agree with that? And do you view this hearing through the prism of a legal proceeding?”
SCHUMER: “No, it’s not a legal proceeding. It’s a fact-finding proceeding. We do this with every major nominee and countless times, I think ten times in the last year when new information comes up the FBI goes again and does its background check. This is standard operating procedure and the question looms why are Republicans deviating from it from here? This is not a criminal trial, this is not a— this is true, find the facts. You have two diametrically opposed stories, and there are two issues. A) which story is right and if, if Doctor Ford is telling the truth, then judge Kavanaugh’s credibility is in great question.”
REPORTER: “So do you agree then that he has ‘presumption of innocence’? “
SCHUMER: “I agree that we— this is not— that’s a criminal trial. What I believe is we ought to get to the bottom and find the facts in the way that the FBI has always done. There’s no presumption of innocence or guilt when you have a nominee before—“