Hillary Clinton’s (mostly) successful defense of a man who brutally raped a twelve year old girl in the early 1970’s has come under increased scrutiny, but we as conservatives must NOT over-correct as we examine both this case and the larger issues surrounding it. We run the risk of obliterating due process protections in our Constitution and handing even more power to a government that too often abuses the power it already has.
Every criminal defendant deserves a defense attorney. That principle is a critical element of our criminal justice system, our liberty, and our desire to be protected from a tyrannical government that will run over even innocent people in order to advance its own interests. Abandoning this principle is most certainly not conservative, and it runs directly counter to the “rule of law” that “law and order” conservatives claim to support!
Why is this so important? First, think about all of the innocent people who have been exonerated. Think about Christopher Clugston, who was literally murdered by prosecutors. Clugston was convicted of a crime he did not commit and went to prison. While he was in prison, he was raped and infected with AIDS. The false conviction was murder, because that false conviction led directly to him contracting a fatal disease.The prosecutor is both a murderer and a rapist.
That is far from the only example. Consider the Central Park Five, innocent youths who spent many years in prison for a crime committed by someone else. Consider Bernard Baran, who went to prison on completely fabricated accusations of child molestation. While he was in prison, he was violently raped more than 30 times. Consider Daryl Kelly, who was fraudulently convicted of raping his daughter. The young woman has contended nearly two decades the abuse never happened.
An uncompromising defense of due process for accused criminals does not and will never minimize the heinousness of crimes like murder and rape. Instead, due process protections uphold the principle of how serious those crimes are! Crimes of that nature are so wicked that we must be careful that people we convict actually are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We must not allow the guilty to go unpunished by convicting someone who is innocent. We must not demean the horrible trauma of real victims by allowing corrupt prosecutors and quack “doctors” to browbeat and bully children into making false accusations – creating trauma where none exists.
One could certainly argue that Hillary Clinton’ behavior in that case decades ago was reprehensible. (Let’s not forget she was acting as a public defender.) But no matter how legitimate the outrage against her may be, we must never compromise on due process for accused criminals, and we must take an uncompromising stand in favor of civil liberties and against abuse of power by prosecutors and law enforcement. Our conservative principles demand no less.