Before last night’s debate, Donald Trump sat down at a table with four women. Three of the women claim Bill Clinton sexually assaulted them. One of the women has no connection to Bill Clinton at all. Her name is Kathy Shelton, and when she was twelve, she was raped by a forty-two-year old man.
On May 10, 1975, Kathy Shelton walked into an emergency room. She told the staff she had been raped, and physical examinations supported her claim. The man eventually arrested and charged with raping Kathy Shelton was Thomas Taylor. He had been with Shelton that night, along with two other men, but denied raping her. Taylor wanted a female attorney, and a young public defender named Hillary Rodham was assigned the case.
Ms. Rodham, now Mrs. Clinton, did not want the case, but she couldn’t refuse a court order. In numerous statements, and in her own book, Hillary Clinton talks about how uncomfortable she was defending a man who was accused of raping a child. But the Sixth Amendment guarantees everyone a fair trial, the right to a lawyer, and the right to confront one’s accuser. As an attorney, Hillary Rodham did her job-she defended Thomas Taylor. Taylor pled guilty before the trial even started, to a much lesser charge: fondling of a minor. He spent ten months in jail.
Blame the system for Taylor’s light sentence. Blame rape culture. But you cannot blame Hillary Clinton for following the Constitution, for adhering to the Sixth Amendment, or for defending a client who was assigned to her to the best of her ability. Which brings us back to Donald Trump’s ignorance about the laws that govern this nation.
The Sixth Amendment states:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
The assistance of counsel for his defense. Everyone, from a man charged with domestic violence, to a woman charged with child endangerment, to a man charged with raping a child, deserves, and is guaranteed, a defense. Donald Trump has lawyers on retainer, he is a prime example of a person using the Sixth Amendment. He used lawyers, including Roy Cohn, to defend him against charges by the Justice Department that he refused to rent apartments to African-Americans. FYI: If you want to talk about an evil, awful, terrifying lawyer, look no further than Roy Cohn. Who was also something of a mentor to Donald Trump.
In defending Thomas Taylor, Hillary Clinton was doing her job. But, as is the new norm with conservatives, Donald Trump doesn’t understand that. He doesn’t understand the Sixth Amendment applies to everyone, not just rich white men. And when Donald lies, and says Hillary “laughed” about “getting a rapist off,” his supporters just drink his poison.
During an interview in the 1980’s, Hillary Clinton laughed, but not about the sentence her client received. She laughed because Taylor took a polygraph, and passed. Hillary told the interviewer, journalist Roy Reed, that “forever destroyed” her faith in polygraphs. Hillary Clinton never laughed about Kathy Shelton, she never laughed at the sentence Taylor received. She laughed because Taylor passed a polygraph, and she believed he was guilty. And she had to defend him, no matter her own personal opinion, because of the Sixth Amendment.
Donald Trump and his minions are attacking Hillary Clinton for doing her job as a public defender, something promised to anyone accused of a crime by the Constitution. It’s fairly obvious Donald Trump, like most conservatives, doesn’t understand the laws that govern this country at all. If he did, he would realize that as awful as what happened to Kathy Shelton was, Thomas Taylor had a constitutional right to an attorney. Kathy Shelton may feel the system failed her, and she’s probably right. But in 1975, Hillary Rodham did her job as a public defender, and attacking her is attacking the Constitution.