After the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, Biden still believes the jury system is working. He’s wrong.
Thanks largely to Republican political tactics, the courts lost legitimacy for millions of Americans before a jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on Friday. Progressives now fear that President Joe Biden won’t even see the problem.
Biden’s knee-jerk assertion that the jury system continues to function has convinced skeptical progressives that the president simply does not realize the extent of the problems plaguing our courts.
Rittenhouse will face no sentence despite the fact that he shot and killed three protesters and ultimately killed two in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse made a self-defense claim for every shootout, arguing that on that day in August 2020 he was repeatedly the victim of physical assaults by demonstrators that left him fearful for his life.
For critics on both the left and right, Rittenhouse’s acquittal was further evidence of the legal deference white men show to self-defense claims, which led even conservative expert Charlie Sykes to believe:If Kyle were black he would be dead.”
However, Biden, asked about his reaction to the news, immediately confirmed the legal status quo. “I stand by the jury’s result,” he says told reporters outside the White House shortly after Judge Bruce Schroeder interrupted the session. “The jury system works.”
It does? While the progressive left is the loudest voice condemning the Rittenhouse verdict, it is not alone. Our country has become increasingly skeptical of the judiciary, with only 54 percent of Americans having great or reasonable confidence in our federal courts, compared with 67 percent a year ago. The Supreme Court witnessed a historic loss of faith only 40 percent of Americans High Court Support – lowest number in Gallup poll history. And how much you trust the juries depends a lot on your race: 2008, a Harris Interactive poll found that over two-thirds of whites trusted the inherent fairness of juries, compared to just over a third of blacks.
While Biden offered reassurance following the ruling, many prominent Democrats spoke instead about the injustice of the incidents and the problems associated with a process that disadvantages non-white Americans.
In a tweet, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York condemned “a system that works the way it was designed and protects what it was designed for,” added, “My heart is still breaking for the communities … those in like Scenes across the country are being denied and disadvantaged. ”And in a statement posted on twitter On Friday night, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “There are two justice systems in America” and that, “It is time to break down systemic racism and fundamentally change our broken justice system.”
In an attempt to bolster the legitimacy of the verdict and the judiciary, Biden’s knee-jerk assertion that the jury system continues to work convinced skeptical progressives that the president simply fails to see the magnitude of the problems plaguing our courts. And after we unceremoniously dropped important left-wing priorities Criminal law reform From his legislative agenda this summer, progressives are concerned that Biden is ready to handle the Rittenhouse ruling with kid gloves if that means getting away from a polarizing political struggle.
The fact that Rittenhouse was turned into a right-wing political celebrity immediately after the shooting convinced many Democrats that the fix was okay even before the trial began. Republican experts at Fox News spent the months following Rittenhouse’s arrest hailed him as a vigilante peacekeeper. The Trump administration even ordered officials to portray Rittenhouse in a more personable light. Prominent Republican lawmakers, including right-wing MP Matt Gaetz openly doubt on the legitimacy of a trial that ended with a jury finding Rittenhouse guilty.
For Americans on the political left, Rittenhouse’s acquittal quickly became another example of how the presumption of innocence, so vigorously asserted by Rittenhouse in the right-wing media, often remains inaccessible to black and brown Americans.
“I knew it,” says journalist and author Keith Boykin Put it. “Kyle Rittenhouse is proof that white people are still breaking the law, carrying illegal weapons, shooting and killing people, and getting away with it in America by shedding tears and claiming self-defense.”
Rittenhouse’s acquittal comes amid broader Democratic concerns that the highest-level judiciary has been hopelessly captured by former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell aggressive pressure to grab the Bundesbank with far-right republican lawyers. That skepticism is weighted by a spate of harsh legal breaches for the Biden government, including a recent one Fifth District Conservative Court of Appeal decision to block Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine needs for large companies.
Institutions caught in spirals of credibility can sometimes be saved if a respected figure with legitimacy across the political spectrum stands up and restores American confidence in our public servants and our process. With Republican lawmakers in the competition to offer the newly vacated Rittenhouse an internship and House Justice Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler urged the Justice Department to Take into account possible federal fees, it is unlikely that there would be such a unifying American figure.
Progressives may be excited about the Rittenhouse ruling and the serious legitimacy challenges facing an increasingly politicized judiciary, but dealing with the American judicial crisis will take at least a generation. Public trust is hard to win but easy to squander, and lifelong appointments only drag out the process of replacing judges whose attachment to the political party through the law undermines the entire judiciary.
Repairing our ailing judiciary isn’t just popular with Democrats. To do this, however, one must acknowledge that the problem lies deeper than a questionable judgment in an individual case. If Biden is to unite his party and the Americans in a worthy struggle, he must recognize how few people trust our judicial system to ensure true justice.