In our private lives, due process tends to be similarly contingent. Most of us agree that the presumption of innocence is an important standard. Society constantly urges us to “see both sides,” to give offenders a chance to explain and to check for exculpatory evidence we may have missed. Yet our personal loyalty to the legal principle of due process may vary according to circumstance — and with good reason. Roy Moore is entitled to his rights under the law, but we certainly aren’t planning to leave him alone with our 14-year-old daughter. In many cases, personal risk justifiably bests abstract principle. We don’t play by constitutional rules in our personal lives.
That case-by-case interpretation also flows in the opposite direction. The sudden (and mostly male, apart from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile waffling) fixation on due process is more personal than all the tedious legal harrumphing suggests. When power dynamics shift as quickly as they have in the wake of #MeToo, individuals are thrown off kilter. The people most unnerved and eager to return to the past are those who suddenly realize they may no longer be on top.