The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Great Due-Process Revival

Signs at a “#MeToo” demonstration during the second annual Women’s March in Cambridge, Mass., January 20, 2018. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

I was traveling Friday and missed a rather interesting and consequential story. Lisa Borders, the CEO of Time’s Up, an “organization born of the #MeToo movement that advocates for safe and harassment-free workplaces,” has resigned. Why? Because her son was accused of sexual assault. But that’s not what makes the story truly notable. Family troubles can cause people to press pause on their careers all the time. What’s notable is that the CEO resigned in part to advocate for her son’s innocence:

Borders made it clear to Time’s Up leadership that she planned to proactively defend her son, someone close to the situation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, and so spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post. This created a difficult tension within the organization, whose mission revolves around believing survivors of sexual abuse.

In response, Time’s Up put out a statement that said, in part, that it “unequivocally supports all survivors of sexual harassment and abuse” and that “all of our actions were fully guided by our support for survivors.” Here’s the statement in full:

Last week I wrote that #BelieveWomen was in a state of legal collapse. Courts, including most notably California courts, are turning against #BelieveWomen-motivated campus kangaroo courts. The court decisions are becoming so problematic for universities that many campuses are being forced to change policies to protect due process regardless of whether the Trump administration finalizes its new Title IX regulations. But as the Time’s Up story shows, due process just might be enjoying a cultural revival right alongside its legal revival.

It turns out that when accusations are leveled at people you love, “#BelieveWomen” or “believe survivors” becomes not just a slogan but a millstone around the neck of a son or spouse — a son or spouse who you may believe to the bottom of your heart is innocent of any wrongdoing. In that case, due process transforms in an instant from a tool of the patriarchy to your loved one’s last and only hope.

I don’t believe for a second that pure partisans will adjust their behavior. They’ll still cling to due process for their friends and reject it for their enemies. Hypocrisy will continue to abound, but in the battle for American hearts and minds, it seems that for now those who are defending the centuries-old principles of western jurisprudence have the upper hand. When even a #MeToo movement leader circles the wagons around her son, it’s obvious why due process has such enduring appeal. Accusation should never equal conviction, and due process helps rather than hinders the search for truth.

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