Why do we presume people to be innocent?

I recently read a blog post by Bradley Smith, who was reacting to the New Republic’s assertion that the Supreme Court should presume laws to be constitutional unless proven otherwise – much as one is presumed innocent.

What struck me is that he gave his reasoning for why one is presumed innocent in a court of law. It’s not something I’ve ever really given much thought to, so I found his reasoning interesting, and it made perfect sense to me. So, I thought I’d repeat the paragraph here (unfortunately, I lost the link, but I did copy and paste it in an email to myself):

“Why do courts presume accused criminals to be innocent? Isn’t the reason three-fold: 1) taking away a man’s liberty is a very big deal; 2) the state has enormous power and we need to shield individuals from that power; and 3) majorities are often ready to sacrifice the interests of individuals in the passion of the moment, or simply because they think something is really, really important.”

As someone who’s interested in the philosophies that drive the way we govern ourselves, I found this to be something worth considering. I hope you found it thought-provoking, as well.

– My name is Jon Friesch, and for now, I remain innocent.

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