On Sunday, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) declared that Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, does not deserve the presumption of innocence when it comes to sexual assault allegations against him — because she disagrees with his judicial philosophy. Indeed, Hirono seemed to suggest that the very principle of “innocent until proven guilty” should not apply in sexual assault cases.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Hirono, “Doesn’t Kavanaugh have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?”
According to the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution — and as is clearly laid out in the case Coffin v. United States (1895) — the answer should be an unqualified “yes.” Every person, no matter how heinous his or her crimes, deserves the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But Hirono did not say, “Yes.”
“I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases,” the senator said, suggesting that the presumption of innocence — a core tenet of English common law and American law going back more than one hundred years — depends on a person’s judicial philosophy.
“As I said, his credibility is already very questionable in my mind and in the minds of … my fellow Judiciary Committee members — the Democrats,” Hirono explained. “When I say that he’s very outcome-driven, he has an ideological agenda. His — in my view — inability to be fair in the cases that are coming before him.”
Then, as if to clarify exactly why Kavanaugh’s judicial heresy means he should not be presumed innocent until proven guilty, she added that “he very much is against women’s reproductive choice,” a euphemism for abortion.
Tapper understood exactly what she said.
“It sounds to me like you’re saying because you don’t trust him on policy and because you don’t believe him when he says for instance that he does not have an opinion on Roe v. Wade, you don’t believe him about this allegation about what happened at this party in 1982. Is that fair?” Tapper asked.
Again, Hirono did not reply, “Yes.” She did, however, harp on the fact that the FBI will not conduct an “independent investigation.” [Instead, the Senate Judiciary Committee has undertaken an investigation, in which false testimony provided to the committee will be punished with a felony. Democrats have refused to join this ongoing investigation on the premise that it is biased. Rather than help ensure there is no bias, they have taken to the media circuit to complain nonstop.]
Indeed, while complaining about the lack of an “independent investigation,” Hirono took Christine Blasey Ford at her word, stating that Mark Judge — Kavanaugh’s accused accomplice — “was right there in that room.”
When Tapper interrupted, saying that Judge “says he doesn’t remember an incident,” Hirono cut him off. “That means there was a lot of drinking going on.”
In other words, no matter what Mark Judge says, Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation is true in Hirono’s mind.
Worse, the senator added, “There’s nothing for her to gain by even coming forward with this.”
This statement is so laughably false, it is absurd. Christine Blasey Ford has joined the Women’s March and the March for Science, both explicitly anti-Trump marches. Protesters are dressing up like handmaids from “The Handmaid’s Tale” to suggest that Brett Kavanaugh would not just outlaw abortion but remove all women’s rights and institute a system of state-sanctioned rape.
With all the hysteria suggesting Kavanaugh would be the end of “women’s rights,” Christine Blasey Ford has every incentive to try to stop his confirmation. This does not mean she is lying, of course, but to deny this incentive is to deny the obvious.
If Americans were wondering if Hirono’s rejection of the “presumption of innocence” was limited to Kavanaugh, Tapper asked the senator what she thinks about the Wall Street Journal editorial board’s charge that she has a “presumption of guilt.”
“The Democratic standard for sexual assault allegations is that they should be accepted as true merely for having been made. The accuser is assumed to be telling the truth because the accuser is a woman. The burden is on Mr. Kavanaugh to prove his innocence,” the editors wrote.
“This turns American justice and due process upside down,” they argued, rightly noting the tradition of the presumption of innocence. “The new American standard of due process will be the presumption of guilt.”
When Tapper asked her to respond to this charge, she dug the hole even deeper for herself.
“If the Wall Street Journal really cares about due process, I’d say that they should care that there’s no independent investigation of these allegations,” Hirono declared. “I think that this kind of attitude is what makes it really difficult for victims and survivors of these kinds of traumatic events to even come forward.”
What “kind of attitude” was the senator referring to? Why, the presumption of innocence, of course!
Hirono also said of sexual assault accusers, “if their stories are credible as Dr. Ford’s story is, they need to be believed.”
The senator did not exactly suggest what makes Christine Blasey Ford’s story so “credible.” Ford’s story seems sincerely felt and expressed. But to call it credible when every would-be witness has denied it, when there is no concrete date or time the assault allegedly took place, and when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) did not consider the allegation important enough to ask Kavanaugh about in a private meeting … that’s just absurd.
This political battle will soon end. In all likelihood, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even if he is guilty of this assault and ends up withdrawing his name, the battle will end eventually.
But Mazie Hirono, the senator from Hawaii, will always — always — be on record denying the presumption of innocence for those accused of sexual assault. She will go down in history as an enemy to America’s tradition of “innocent until proven guilty,” a tradition that goes back much earlier than the founding of this country.
There’s a reason why American law has a “presumption of innocence.” If governments can consider someone presumptively guilty until proven innocent — based on nothing more than their legal opinions — justice becomes effectively impossible. For all her talk about “social justice,” Hirono’s own standard would destroy justice. That’s more serious than any political issue.
Watch Hirono’s remarks below.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.