Though he may try to write the history books as such, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is not a due-process martyr. He’s already gotten it.
Conyers issued a statement Tuesday announcing his immediate retirement in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations. Supporters of Conyers have been lamenting that the congressman had not been afforded “due process” in regards to the allegations against him.
“Given the totality of the circumstance of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring,” Conyers said in his statement.
Jackson Lee reading Conyers' statement on House floor:
"Given the totality of the circumstance of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring."
— Ben Siegel (@benyc) December 5, 2017
The statement echoes the group of activists, politicians, and religious leaders who gathered at a Detroit church Monday to rally in support of the embattled Democrat. Chris Pandolfo wrote:
"I know that the media may be looking for certain soundbites, but I want you to take from this morning that we’re here for due process,” said Rev. Wendell Anthony, the president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP.
One of the event’s organizers, state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, said that people are rushing to condemn Conyers out of prejudice.
"We know the balance of the work and contributions that Rep. John Conyers has made. He's certainly someone who has championed civil rights and he deserves due process," Gay-Dagnogo wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “We always see a difference when the leader is a person of color. There's a rush to judgment."
These sound remarkably similar to the cries for due process from defenders of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. But here’s the big difference: John Conyers already exercised his rights to due process when he chose to settle harassment cases against him. The defending of him is nothing but naked tribalism.
As David French explained at National Review regarding the due process arguments for Moore, “when the state is attempting to deprive you of rights you’d otherwise enjoy, due process attaches. Here, there is no state action. Roy Moore will not lose his life, liberty, or property if voters reject his bid for high office.” Nobody – at least nobody serious – is talking about mounting a criminal case against Conyers.
Of course, settlement does not necessarily imply guilt, but the facts of the matter certainly imply something serious in this case. What we do know is that Conyers had the option, multiple times, to follow through on cases to exonerate his self. Instead, he chose to stop the whole thing short.
We can determine from this that whatever happened between Conyers and his accusers (as well in other such cases) was:
1. Bad enough to drive these women to go through the Office of Compliance’s sexual harassment reporting process.
2. Serious enough to compel Conyers to kill the whole thing, to the tune of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in hush money.
Of course, there are legitimate concerns that calling for resignation and torching reputations over mere accusations will lead to a slew of false allegations and innocent victims. Hence the need to seriously evaluate all claims.
Politically, Rep. John Conyers had his right to due process when accused; he made his choice to waive them and settle. May the history books reflect as much.
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