Nancy Pelosi’s Due Process
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
In respect of Congressman John Conyers, we’re with Nancy Pelosi. We agree that Mr. Conyers is, to use Mrs. Pelosi’s word, an “icon” in this country and within the Democratic Party. We agree that, in the face of the accusations of sexual harassment that have been levied against him, the congressman deserves due process. The House Ethics Committee would be a good place for it.
Then again, also, too, we suggested the same thing in respect of another political icon, Judge Roy Moore. We did that in an editorial called “Judge Moore’s Due Process.” It argued that the best course would be for the judge to stay in the race. If he’s defeated, Alabama has spoken. If he’s elected, Alabama will have spoken, and Supreme Court precedent suggests the Senate will have to seat him.
Once that is done, the Senate would still retain the right to expel Judge Moore. The expulsion process, though, would at least give the judge a kind of due process, a concept that is embedded in the American ethic. Plus, there’s a similarity in the cases of Congressman Conyers and Judge Moore. Both politicians deny the charges being transcribed against them and question the motives of their accusers.
In Alabama, Judge Moore suggests the motives of his accusers are political. He certainly wouldn’t be the first Alabama politician to have allegations of sexual misbehavior raised against him in the course of an election (the most famous was Governor James “Big Jim” Folsom). The judge’s camp has also suggested that his opponents were offering money for accusers to step forward against him.
Congressman Conyers is similar in that not only does he maintain that he’s innocent but he also questions the accusers and suggests there’s money involved. “I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger,” he says. He adds that he is looking forward to “vindicating myself and my family” before the House.
We think he deserves that hearing, which, in his case, would be before the House Ethics Committee. We understand that the phrase “Ethics Committee” has a kind of oxymoronical tone when used in connection with the Congress. Certainly the committee has proven itself to be a flawed, at times comical, institution (its first case involved a congressman from Vermont who spat on a colleague).
At the moment, though, the Ethics Committee is the best the House has got, and Mr. Conyers deserves his chance. So does Senator Franken and all the others accused of sexual harassment or, in the case of Harvey Weinstein and several others lately in the news, felonies. Our point is not to belittle the charges but to underscore them and to put in a word for the idea that due process is owed to those accused of serious wrongs in America, no matter whether they are Democrats or Republicans. So good for Mrs. Pelosi.