Mob Justice for Justin Fairfax

Wow, that was fast. One day Justin Fairfax was measuring the drapes for the Governor’s Mansion, now the grandees of the Virginia Democratic Party say he should step down as Lieutenant Governor. The sexual-assault charges against him are serious and his accusers deserve to be heard. But can we give it just a little bit of time before assuming his guilt and tossing him into the trash heap of history?

Fairfax, according to the Washington Post, is asking for an “appropriate and impartial” investigation into the accusations against him by Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson. “I am asking,” he said, “that no one rush to judgment and I am asking for there to be space in this moment for due process.”

Is that really too much to ask? It astonishes me that so many people believe that there mere existence of accusations is sufficient to remove Fairfax from office.

With two seemingly credible women alleging sexual assault, the logic goes, it doesn’t matter if Fairfax is innocent or guilty. The charges interfere with his ability to effectively carry out his job. Virginia pols are willing to give him the heave-ho before he has had a chance to recall the incidents and marshal any kind of a defense.

Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker: “While the Lieutenant Governor deserves due process in this matter, it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth that he goes through this process as a private citizens.”

House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights: “The Lt. Governor has clearly lost the trust and confidence of the people of Virginia. His ability to serve has been permanently impaired and, at this point, it is in the best interests of the Commonwealth for him to resign.”

Meanwhile, almost everyone who matters in the Virginia Democratic Party — Sen. Tim Kaine, six of the state’s seven Democratic members of Congress. Bobby Scott, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus — have asked him to step down.

Speaking personally, I find the two women’s charges credible and damning, and Fairfax’s flailing defense so far has been unconvincing. But I have seen enough hasty judgments inflamed by press accounts to know that first impressions are not always accurate impressions. I also acknowledge that due to the nature of he-said, she-said accusations, there may be no way to authoritatively prove or disprove the accusations. Ultimately, “public opinion” may be the ultimate arbiter of whether Fairfax stays or goes. But, for God’s sake, give the man an opportunity to defend his reputation and career before casting him into the outer darkness.

Once upon a time, Virginia saw its share of lynchings. A common theme of these acts of mob justice — often targeting black men for alleged sexual transgressions — was that people acted on preliminary information and refused to give victims an opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law. No doubt some lynching victims were guilty of the crimes of which they were accused but many were not. I fully expect Republicans to exploit the circumstances for tactical political advantage. But how ironic it is that Democratic politicians, who purport to be champions of minority rights, are resurrecting Jim Crow justice to run an African-American politician out of office. The Dems aren’t throwing a noose over the tree branch, but what they are doing to Fairfax’s career can only be described as a lynching.

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20 responses to “Mob Justice for Justin Fairfax

  1. so… I can’t help but notice this issue of “he said/she said ” with Justin Fairfax compared with the issue of similar accused sexual misconduct on College Campuses… the race issue off to the side.

    Are there some parallels or am I totally off base?

  2. Jim Bacon is right on target. No more high tech lynchings and slurs in the Commonwealth, political, or otherwise. Virginia needs to break this vicious cycle of disgusting and self-serving behavior.

  3. Democrats are now hell-bent on destroying all the essential building blocks of the foundation of our society which include equal treatment for all, capitalism, freedom of expression, democratic rule where neither minorities or majorities can tyrannize, an honest and effective press, self-rule guided by universally shared concepts of morality, and the rule of law. The rule of law is certainly the linchpin. Destroy that and the wheel comes off fairly quickly which, judging from the demagoguery of our Democrat leaders and their academic, media, entertainment, and “religious” spokespersons– will not be an unwelcome outcome for them,

    • Wow! What a broad brush! I notice that Speaker of the House Kirk Cox has now joined in the call for Fairfax to resign. Does that mean that he also is hell-bent on destroying the rule of law?

  4. I spoke last week with a member of the GA who, as a prosecutor, has put people on trial for similar cases up to 25 years after the event. In such “he said/she said” cases with little or no physical evidence, the jury decides who to believe. These are serious, credible allegations of rape. Two rapes, in the Duke situation. NC must move forward with an investigation.

    I don’t know that immediate resignation is required but have wondered if some form of leave of absence is possible, getting out of the daily limelight for the last two weeks of the session. It’s not like the LG does anything anyway. The few times he is caught in a tie vote it is usually intentional. The president pro tem could preside. By the time the 2020 session rolls around, this will be resolved or he will be embroiled in a real legal battle. Should he be indicted in either state, Mass or NC, what say you then, Jim? Await the trial?

    Staying in office, in his case, is a ridiculous thing to focus on given the possibility of life in prison. Who T..F… cares about being in office, the political career is indisputable dead.

  5. musingsfromjanus has it right. Rule of Law means Rule of Law. There is no substitute, save for the political process according to norms and rules. This fellow has been voted into office by the voters in a fair election, and he has not been charged, much less convicted. To be lynched by fellow elected official converts Virginia’s government into a de facto lynch mob. Have we lost all decency everywhere? And our Republic along with our traditions, culture, and moral. Brutus reigns, in the land of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Marshall.

    • The rule of law includes the impeachment process. It also grants to legislative bodies some control over the acceptance or rejection of fellow members on the basis of ethical lapses or malfeasance. Those are also rule of law.

      Bringing up Brutus is pretty funny in a state with the motto, thus always to tyrants. He could be on our flag!

      • Exactly. Impeachment is the rule of law from the legislature’s point of view. Perhaps it’s too much to expect the public to parse out the broad differences between a legislative conviction and a criminal court conviction but that is what we are all obliged to do if the GA starts down the impeachment road. A criminal conviction is not required by the “rule of law.”

  6. John Wilkes Booth wrote in his diary that he shouted “Sic semper tyrannis” after shooting U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, in part because of the association with the assassination of Caesar.[6][7][8] The phrase was also in the pro-Confederate Civil War song “Maryland, My Maryland”, which was popular at the time with Southern sympathizers in Maryland, such as Booth. The song, containing the phrase, is now the official state song of Maryland.

    Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with this phrase and a picture of Lincoln on it when he was arrested on April 19, 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing

  7. Caesar and Brutus were slave holders. All the big rich Romans were. You left that out, Larry.

    • Oh.. so you’re counting the concepts of slaves thousands of years ago in other cultures as somehow equivalent to the US in the later centuries?

      I sorta thought the “tyrannis” idea was about the British rule, no?

  8. It’s hard to be a Puritan about this. I think the “rule of law” answer is simplistic; and so is the idea that the accuser is always right. Of course, the MSM and many others have already tried and convicted our LtG without any sort of legal findings against him including an indictment, let alone a formal complaint. Of course, this is mob justice, and “can only be described as a lynching.” And yet we are talking politics here.

    The grounds for a federal impeachment of the chief executive (and I assume under Virginia’s Constitution as well) need not include a criminal conviction but merely socially-repugnant or even politically-unacceptable behavior. A conviction of “impeachment” is the closest thing we have under our system to a parliamentary vote of “no confidence,” and it was deliberately left vague in the federal Constitution what the potential grounds might be — but with the requirement of a super-majority so large for conviction that mere political disagreement would not be enough.

    Moreover, the real crime here is one that’s already alleged to have occurred: an act of irreversible political suicide. The logic of impeachment is, if the accused is no longer respected enough by his peers to be politically effective, then he is no longer able to represent his constituents effectively and he should no longer be allowed to exercise the formal authorities of his office to obstruct the political process. Therefore he should be removed. The consequence of impeachment is not a fine or imprisonment but “merely” exclusion from political office.

    So the question may be reframed: what circumstance amounts to irreversible political suicide? I don’t think the Democrats can make the case that racial insensitivity decades ago is enough. Sexual misconduct is different — surely, conviction of rape would be such a circumstance. But short of conviction, multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct are enough to cause political suicide, it seems to me. If those allegations are flatly denied by the accused, as here, the members of the indicting body owe the accused, as one of their own, at least an investigation and hearing to explore the accusers’ credibility — if only to avoid setting a terrible precedent for the removal of any of the rest of them — but the degree of specificity and the level of certainty need not even approach what a court of law would demand for a criminal conviction. It seems to me that they mainly want to avoid having appeared to act too hastily if the accused later is cleared. If the accused subsequently were acquitted in court, then, depending upon what was determined, maybe he could make a come-back. Maybe. Yes, this opens the door to false accusations; but again, impeachment is a political act, and lots of political decisions are made based on imperfect knowledge and gut reactions and deep disappointment on the part of those not heard.

    I submit, a politician has not committed political suicide if the public is willing to forgive. If that forgiveness is contingent upon certain facts being clarified first, then by all means get on with clarifying them — applying the informal standards of a legislative impeachment hearing, not the adjudicative due process of a court of criminal law. If the public’s forgiveness is not contingent but simply there to be measured, then take your polls to measure it and move on. In these respects the Kavanaugh hearing is a pretty good example even if it took place in the context of confirmation rather than impeachment. So, are “Democrats . . . now hell-bent on destroying all the essential building blocks of the foundation of our society”? I think Dick H-S has it right: “Wow! What a broad brush!”

  9. Acbar has a reasonable perspective. Fairfax deserves a fair process I agree but chances are he’s not going to emerge clean and unscathed … politically.

    The irony is that both racism and womens issues are considered to be in the Dems wheelhouse… and problematical on the GOP side. no?

  10. Bye. All of them. Tired of the scandals especially the hypocrisy of the Dems given Kavanaugh.

  11. Amen, Jim.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  12. I think ACBAR’s post above is a thoughtful contribution to the dialogue; but I would argue that impeachment is within the rule of law, as someone else observed. Whether or not such a process itself follows law and precedent and whether those legislators who vote yes are serving the public good with the high morals and reasoned judgment we hope characterize our representatives, we can judge if and when it happens. We all could do well to brush up on the history of Alfred Dreyfus.

    Regarding the broad brush I have used in describing the result and implicit intent of the Democrat party of today, I am aware that not everyone who self-identifies as a Democrat is bent on destroying the foundations of America as we have known it. Some whom I know well personally are unaware or in denial of the extent of the Democrat party’s metamorphosis into 21st C Leninism.

    The worm usually turns, as it has again. The ultimate tragedy,” Martin Luther King once said, “is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

  13. I also totally agree with this latest musing from Janus.

    Also, if read properly, my earlier rule of law comment shown above includes impeachment, a proceeding that falls within the ambit of “save for the political process according to norms and rules.”

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