August 14, 2013

If You Defend Due Process, You Might Be a Harasser

In a word, due process refers to fairness. According to the 'Lectric Law Library:
Due process is best defined in one word--fairness. Throughout the U.S.'s history, its constitutions, statutes and case law have provided standards for fair treatment of citizens by federal, state and local governments. These standards are known as due process. When a person is treated unfairly by the government, including the courts, he is said to have been deprived of or denied due process.
I do not think it would be an understatement to suggest that our legal system rests on the fundamental notion of due process as defined by the U.S. Constitution and substantial case law. Our due process rights include some of our most basic rights (e.g., notice of legal proceedings, an opportunity to defend oneself, etc.), and the presumption of innocence may be the most basic of all.

Most of us feel extremely fortunate to have the due process rights we have and become quite upset if we see them being violated or even threatened. But this sentiment might not be shared by everybody. Take a look at this comment and the response to it from a recent post on Ophelia Benson's blog:
critics as abusers

Here we see an association being suggested between those who are speaking out about "let's not judge…innocent until proven guilty…" and those who subsequently had "credible accusations" of harassment and other crimes brought against them.
But it does seem that some of the people who have been very vociferous about "innocent until proven guilty" actually know for a fact that sexual harassment and worse are taking place - because they're the one's doing it.
I wonder if this means that most attorneys and judges, persons who presumably take due process quite seriously, are running around harassing people? No, of course not. And I doubt that either the commenter or Ophelia would make such a claim. And yet, the suggestion here that those who have dared to speak out in defense of some of our most basic rights might be doing so primarily because they are criminals is...well...disgusting.

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