A few minutes passed between the end of Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial and the arrival of the first unsolicited opinions.
Echoing the decision, New York Attorney General Letitia James explained that, “as a lawyer”, she “respects” the jury verdicts, but noted, however, that a jury verdict she does not like convinced her to that “our system needs to be changed”.
On Twitter, Colin Kaepernick (civil rights activist and football player) echoed that sentiment, proposing that the decision “further validates the need to abolish our current system.” From New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio called the trial “an abortion of the court”.
In an e-mail outburst, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Sean Patrick Maloney, lamented “a legal system that fails to hold the violent to account.” And, of course, there were the usual “No justice, no peace” threats.
The fact is, however, that there was justice – in both senses of the word. There was procedural justice, involving formal charges, bail, presumption of innocence and eventual verdict by a jury. And there was substantive justice, because, as anyone who watched the trial closely saw, the prosecution could not prove its point.
The Rittenhouse case ended as it did not because of some lost or biased “system” but because the charge against Rittenhouse was hopelessly weak. And in a system that values the presumption of innocence, hopelessly weak accusations tend not to thrive.
That Rittenhouse would likely be acquitted was very clear from the start. Not only did Wisconsin’s prosecutors decide to file their charges just two days after the incident in question – before the passions had cooled, before the facts were known, before a cursory investigation had even been conducted – but the criminal types it chose for the complaint were totally inadequate for the facts.
With the exception of the firearms charge, which was dropped, all the charges the state brought against Rittenhouse were first-degree, reflecting a set of assumptions that could not be supported by the evidence.
“How could Rittenhouse have been acquitted?” critics ask. A better question is: how could he not have been acquitted? Contrary to the insinuations of many in the media, this was not a judgment of the United States, men, white people, gun owners, teenagers or people who live in the Midwest, but a single person, Kyle Rittenhouse , and the unique set of facts related to it. There is no collective guilt in the United States.
Attacking the trial from the right side, Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance suggested that the Rittenhouse trial “was not impartial justice in a constitutional society; it was mafia law in a banana republic.” But that’s the totally wrong conclusion to draw, because “Impartial justice in a constitutional society” is exactly what we’ve just seen.
The judge in the case followed the law, citing the Constitution in doing so; the jury in the case was sober, fair and, admirably, did not let the media sidetrack it; and, acquitted, the suspect in the case was released.
I agree with Vance that the state of Wisconsin should not have acted as it did in the first instance. But the test of our constitutional order is not whether it can act prophylactically against overzealous prosecutors — clearly, no Constitution can — but what happens after those prosecutors go overboard. And what happened after the prosecutors went overboard is that Kyle Rittenhouse got a fair trial.
All Americans should be proud of this.
© 2021 The National Review. Published with permission. Original in english.
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