by Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
A mere three weeks ago, the nation witnessed liberal groups and even some Democrat leaders argue that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh did not deserve a presumption of innocence. Still others argued that he did not even deserve the guarantees of due process. They argued — largely for political purposes — that the mere accusation alone without any evidence to back it up was enough to destroy him.
For the conservative and traditionalist Americans, the contention was simply absurd, but many failed to see matters in the same light and passionately called for the disqualification of the judicial nominee simply based on the mere accusation of sexual assault, despite the absence of any corroborating evidence in support of the charges. The discussion was, quite frankly, surreal.
Separately, on Oct. 12 America witnessed another set of surreal events when American Pastor Andrew Brunson was released from house arrest and allowed to leave Turkey for the first time since being detained in 2016. By Saturday, Brunson was in the White House thanking President Donald Trump for his interventions and openly praying that God’s wisdom fall upon the President. Make no mistake, this was Trump’s doing — which the media largely downplayed.
Interestingly, the evils that befell Brunson in Turkey are the same ones against which conservative Americans have been preciously guarding in protecting now-Justice Kavanaugh. America is based on certain rights, including a presumption of innocence.
In October 2016, Brunson and his wife, Norine, were summoned in Turkey to renew their visas. Upon their arrival, they were arrested. Their due process rights completely ignored, they were held without even being told what the charges against them were. Norine was released without explanation 13 days later, but Brunson continued to be held.
It would not be until December 2016 when charges were formally brought against Brunson accusing him of being a member of an armed terrorist organization. And in August 2017, those charges were broadened to include charges of espionage, attempting to overthrow the Turkish parliament and government, and attempting change to change the constitutional order of Turkey.
Again, it is important to remember that at no time were any of the charges against Brunson corroborated or was evidenced supplied in support of them. There was no evidence that he was actually a terrorist, and no evidence that he, in any way, tried to overthrow the government.
No evidence at all. Just an accusation. Sound familiar?
But those things do not matter because in Turkey. They do not have America’s Constitution and heritage of rights, so it’s okay there to bypass another’s due process rights and to ignore another’s presumption of innocence; precisely the road Democrats have been encouraging Americans to traverse.
Brunson was held as part of a political ploy to use him as a pawn in an international game of chicken. His innocence was immaterial to his captors. Similarly, his release was part of a political ploy to improve relations between that country and the United States. Again, his guilt or innocence was immaterial. The only thing that mattered was the benefits to the Turkish government secured by his imprisonment and subsequently, by his release.
Many argue that the status of civil liberties in the United States is far removed from those in Turkey. I agree. But if Americans’ civil liberties are protected, it is only because Americans demand that due process rights and innocence presumptions be honored.
The road Democrats and the Kavanaugh protestors would put us on, although seemingly long, point directly to the reproduction of the events in Turkey here in the United States. And Americans can ill afford to take even one baby step in that direction.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and cohost of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod. Dr. Gonzalez is presently serving in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.
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