Imagine being accused of a heinous crime, yet being completely innocent. Then being punished anyway. Not only would you likely – and justifiably – be outraged; you might also consider legal action to right the wrong.
Congressman Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, doesn’t have time for such nonsense as “innocent until proven guilty.” Last week, Rep. Polis made the following remarks during a hearing on the very serious subject of campus rape:
“If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying out loud.”
There’s no way around this: A United States Congressman does not believe in due process.
Due process is a Constitutionally-guaranteed safeguard from an American citizen being deprived of life, liberty, or property outside the sanction of law. It is a critical component of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; it is a bulwark of America’s legal system. And a member of the most important legislative body of the United States thinks it is bunk.
The subject of campus rape is extremely sensitive, and necessarily so. Accusations can and should be taken as seriously as those involving murder. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would argue otherwise.
But what Congressman Polis seeks is neither constitutional nor even remotely related to the presumption of innocence that is the foundation of our society.
Furthermore, imagine Polis’ proposal in practice: an innocent young man, accused of rape, immediately gets expelled from college. Beyond the outcome of such a kangaroo court proceeding, where does the young man go from there? What college or university would accept a student with that stigma?
As we have seen in recent years, from the notorious Duke Lacrosse case, to the more recent University of Virginia Rolling Stone debacle, accusations of rape are serious enough to permanently tarnish the reputations of even the innocent among the accused. As for Polis? It seems he has no regard for their innocence, or, for that matter, yours.
Polis’ idea was so incredibly off track that his hometown newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, took him to task via an editorial titled “A Spectacularly Bad Idea from Jared Polis“:
“Such a policy would be such an astonishing abrogation of due process that it’s hard to know where to start in condemning it…
“Sexual assault is a serious problem, in society and on college campuses. The answer is not to throw up our hands at the prospect of adjudication and delete all the messy steps between allegation and punishment. The answer is to preserve individual rights through due process, assign such cases to institutions trained to investigate and prosecute them, and punish those found guilty to the fullest extent of the law.”
What do you think? Should an individual’s life be ruined, even if they are innocent? Has Congressman Polis created a ludicrous side show during what should be a serious conversation about reducing campus rape? Give it some more thought on Facebook.