People of a certain age may remember “Perry Mason”, a television show from the fifties and sixties starring Raymond Burr in the lead role, a criminal defense lawyer described as intelligent, analytical and devoted to justice. .
Each episode followed a case until a pivotal moment when it emerged that the guilty would be released and the innocent would suffer a terrible injustice.
However, Perry Mason would still save the day by presenting new critical evidence or convincing a witness to testify, bringing new clarity to the case and leading to justice. Something that has come to be known as a Perry Mason moment.
Today we face a pivotal moment in history as our constitutional system of democracy is put to the test. On January 6, 2021, supporters of the former president stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election results, marking the first violent attempt to stop the transfer of power in state history. -United.
Numerous investigations into the violent attack are ongoing and recent polls indicate that the court of public opinion is still absent.
These polls also indicate that a significant minority of Americans, including over 70% Republicans, have rejected one of the most fundamental concepts of our democratic system.
Understanding that executive and legislative powers were inherently political in nature, the drafters created the judiciary to preserve the rule of law and our rights as citizens without undue political influence.
In America, our judicial branch of government is the foundation of the rule of law.
In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, the judicial branch of the United States government categorically rejected claims that the election was “rigged.”
Evaluating allegations that the election was stolen, Pennsylvania Federal Court of Appeals Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote the following about the effort to reject millions of votes.
“One would expect that in seeking such a surprising result, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of widespread corruption, so that this Court would have no choice but to unfortunately grant the proposed injunction despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.
His ruling then upheld the findings of all other judges who assessed those allegations.
” This does not happen. Instead, this Court has been presented with unfounded strained legal arguments and speculative accusations, not argued in the complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, that cannot justify the deprivation of the right to vote of just one voter, let alone all voters in its sixth most populous state. “
Our judicial system has been unanimous in concluding that there is no credible evidence that fraud, error or anything else affected the results of the election. Numerous independent audits have also confirmed that Joe Biden won the election.
Nonetheless, a significant minority of Americans, including more than 70% Republicans, rejected the unanimous decision of the judiciary that the election was free and fair.
In doing so, they rejected the constitutional framework of our democracy, which makes the judiciary the arbiter of such disputes.
If we are truly a government of the people, by the people and for the people, the importance of our role as individual citizens can hardly be overstated.
We have a heavy responsibility as citizens to assess the evidence and make our judgments known.
Nonetheless, many members of the public today seem more inclined to make decisions based on an emotional response to political theater, supplemented by outlandish claims made by elected officials to deceive their supporters.
The former President of the United States has continued to use the skills he honed during his time on reality TV to tell a fabricated story about a rigged election, while the current President has remained relatively silent for one year.
However, on the first anniversary of the attack instigated by the former president, current President Joe Biden has pointed out that the former president is responsible for the attack on our democracy.
He made clear the painfully obvious fact that there would not have been an attack on the United States Capitol on January 6 if the former president had not falsely claimed the election was stolen.
While many have been waiting for President Biden to speak out on the matter, it will take time to see if his powerful message will be seen as a Perry Mason moment.
Probably not. However, Attorney General Merrick Garland said more than 700 defendants have been indicted and 17 defendants are expected to stand trial for their role in criminal conspiracies.
He made it clear that more serious charges were on the horizon.
That leaves room for a few more Perry Mason moments that could sway the court of public opinion to head for justice.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Ardmoreite: Guest Column: Democracy Tested by the Court of Public Opinion