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Michael McKenna: “Flake’s Mistaken Appeal to a Principle of Innocence”

This piece, written by Michael McKenna (Arizona), is intended as a kind of generally accessible op-ed in response to one aspects of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Here now is McKenna:

Arizona’s United States Senator Jeff Flake has made a mistake. He should correct it. Just this morning [when this was written], as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Flake voted along party lines to advance to a full vote in the U.S. Senate the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. Flake cited the legal and ethical principle that a person should be treated as innocent until proven guilty. But Flake’s appeal to this principle to justify his vote is not ethically defensible. Let me explain.

As a general principle, Flake seems to assume, we should regard people as innocent until proven guilty. Whatever exactly that standard of proof involves, it requires stronger evidence than is required to justify believing something. Believing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and not Judge Brett Kavanaugh is consistent with lacking proof that Kavanaugh was guilty. That’s Flake’s way out. Nevertheless, it does not stand up to scrutiny. (more…)

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