Laura Phillips and Jeremy Cushing debate the Senate hearings and the concept of innocent until proven guilty

I must take issue with your correspondent Gemma McGregor (Letters, 11 October). I do not consider those who object to the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh ignorant or careless of the judicial concept of everyone’s being innocent until proved guilty and of the need for due process. The Senate hearing was not a criminal trial. It was surely a very public questioning of someone’s credentials for one of the most important jobs in the country, in which the candidate, if successful, would take decisions that would have far-reaching implications for all US citizens, for the rule of law and for the status and reputation of the supreme court (and therefore perhaps for justice) itself.

The fact that several women had accused him of improper sexual conduct should have been a reason for the Senate to adopt the precautionary principle and to have chosen an alternative candidate. By doing so, they would not have found him guilty of any crime: he would merely have failed to get the job, and they would have acted with caution and wisdom. The only alternative to that would surely have been to order a proper, exhaustive FBI inquiry into the matter, rather than the perfunctory one that took place. By choosing neither of these options, the senators turned the appointment of a member of the highest court in the land into a political arm wrestling match: unedifying at best and deeply damaging to the reputation of the Senate and the judiciary at worst.

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