The last two weeks reminds us that America still remembers, at some level, the principles upon which she was founded.
Among those first principles are one that we can shorthand as Due Process. Due process also has legal definitions, and then there’s that whole argument between substantive due process and procedural due process, and some even say that one is a subset of the other or one springs from the other.
But let’s dance right on past that whole business. The principle is more a more fundamental notion of American life. For the purpose of this chat, due process is the sense and substance of fair treatment of a person suspected or accused.
The Founders had experience with a government which treated the people with impunity; injustices for which there was no recourse. The Declaration of Independence reeled off an impressive, arm-length list of offenses the colonists had suffered under a capricious and unaccountable government.
The Constitution and even moreso the Bill of Rights contemplated these things in a multitude of ways: separation of powers between mutiple branches of government so that none could dominate; tension between state and federal governments; protected free political speech; freedom to peacably assemble; right to carry guns; a free press; security from unreasonable searches and seizures; due process per se in the adjudication of criminal cases; speedy and public trial; ability to conduct an effective defense by calling witnesses, cross-examination and competent counsel; no abuse by excessive bail.
All of these were designed to give all citizens, low and high, the ability to fight back against government abuses. All designed to be fair to any suspected or accused, or even outnumbered.
Remember the famous words attibuted to Ben Franklin upon the close of the Constitutional Convention: a Republic, if you can keep it. The Constitution was a singularly remarkable accomplishment, but this Republic is said to only stand as long as virtue reigned. In the 20th century, America’s nation-building efforts resulted in many nations adopting a constitution reminiscent of ours. Most of these nations fell quickly into disrepair and despotism. They had the words and the rules, but not the appreciation for duty. So, those with the power to make rules legislated or decreed themselves into permanent power, and that was that.
Here in America, those people exist in and out of the government in large numbers, and it is a constant battle to keep an oppression-minded government in check. Thanks, Woodrow and Franklin, you worthless cucks.
But also in America the culture is still defined by those who still believe in First Principles. We still believe in people getting a fair chance, a due process, to defend themselves from accusations.
Now back to the Schiff Show. We’ll skip addressing all the things that led to the House Intelligence Committee convening “impeachment inquiry” hearings. That could be 10 or 15 posts if we wanted. Let’s talk onlly about what happened in the House the last 2 months.
- On September 24, Speaker Pelosi, unilaterally announced, with no vote, that there would be an “impeachment inquiry”. Previously House Democrats had been accused of conducting inquiries in secret, and memory-holing exculpatory information. Subsequently the Intel Committee was designated the investigative body under chairman Adam Schiff. During that time, leaks from hearings and depositions seemed specifically aimed at bolstering the Democrat PR campaign.
- After a month, on October 31, the House voted, with not a single Republican in favor, to legitimize the Pelosi directive.
- On November 7, Schiff delivered to Ranking Member Devin Nunes rules for calling witnesses. These were imposed without a vote. The scope of any defense witness was limited to 3 questions; the ranking member had to request from the chairman permission for any defense witness; if denied, the ranking member could appeal to the whole committee, which of course had a Democrat majority; and the deadline for any requests was November 8, at 11:20am (26 hours after these rules were handed down).
- Every day of public hearings, the Democrats were given most of the early time, although ultimately it was equal time. This was widely viewed as an advantage to the Democrats.
America watched as:
- Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-CA) was silenced by Schiff because he would not “recognize” her. It was (probably) correct according to the rules imposed by the Democrats. But the event, which she cleverly forced, highlighted the unfairness of the rules. This proved devastating.
- No defense witness was ever called.
- The witnesses that did perform were almost uniformly shredded on cross-examination, forced to acknowledge various things such as having only hearsay information (inadmissible in any actual court proceeding), or that they were aware of no bribery, no quid pro quo, no crimes of any kind, and that they themselves seemed guilty of acting in opposition to Trump’s lawful duties and prerogatives.
Americans saw this. And they did not like it. Impeachment is one of the most serious affairs contemplated in all of American political life. What they found was anything but due process: an unfair hearing, a veritable kangaroo court, a bunch of witnesses whose bold claims fell apart when challenged, and a mean, small man in charge ruling with impunity.