The Corner

Law & the Courts

Dianne Feinstein’s Rank Illiberalism

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 24, 2018. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Perhaps that trendy phrase about democracy dying in darkness should be Senator Feinstein’s campaign slogan?

What Senator Feinstein is currently doing to Brett Kavanaugh is evil. Yes, it is evil. It is antediluvian. It is dangerous. It is illiberal. It sits well, well outside of the American tradition, harking back to a time in which the accused were simply carted off — or shunned by polite society — ten minutes after someone prominent offered up a vague claim about them. In America, we require that our accusers make themselves known, that their accusations be offered in detail and in public, and that the accused be apprised of everything that has been leveled against them — and we require this not just within formal legal environments, but in general. Within the American tradition, these requirements are considered a prerequisite to fairness — both inside and outside the courtroom. As has become fashionable lately within her party and her state, Senator Feinstein is stamping all over those traditions, and doing so for political advantage.

Worse still, Senator Feinstein is engaged a brazen attempt to have it both ways: She wants the consequences of an accusation without any of the attendant process. Or, put more bluntly, Senator Feinstein wants to be imbued with the power to point her finger at other people and to mark them as tainted, as unacceptable, as excommunicated. That will not stand — today, tomorrow, ever.

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