Connect with us

Government

ACLU warns against rush to expel Kettle

Published

on

“The ACLU of Rhode Island appreciates the severity of the allegations that have been leveled against [Senator Nicholas Kettle] in Friday’s indictment. At the same time, we are alarmed at the apparent haste by which the Senate is considering the possibility of seeking his expulsion… under Article VI, Section 7 of the [Rhode Island] State Constitution. Some news reports have indicated that the expulsion vote could take place as early as next week.

“As serious as the criminal charges are, so too is the act of expelling a democratically elected legislator from the seat he earned from the voters of his district.”

So warns a letter from Steve Brown, executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island to all the members of the Rhode Island State Senate.

Senator Nicholas Kettle (Republican, District 21, Coventry, Foster Scituate, West Greenwich) was charged Friday. The Providence Journal reports that, “A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses state Senator Nicholas Kettle, a 27-year-old Coventry Republican, of twice coercing a Senate student page to have sex with him in 2011, Kettle’s first year in the General Assembly. The indictment accused Kettle of threatening to injure the page or harm his reputation if he did not comply.”

Both Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence) and Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere (Republican, District 38, Westerly, Charlestown) have issued statements indicating that they plan to expel Kettle under Article 6, Section 7 of the Rhode Island Constitution, which requires a 2/3rds Senate vote.

“In the absence of clear due process standards, the Senate’s actions in this case will set a precedent that could be used for less principled purposes in the future,” writes ACLU of Rhode Island executive director Steven Brown in his letter. “The presumption of innocence remains a fundamental component of our criminal justice system, and while the same standard of ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ may not necessarily also apply to a setting like a Senate’s consideration for expelling a member, it is nonetheless worth emphasizing that Senator Kettle has been charged with, not convicted of, these crimes.”

You can read the entire letter here.



Can you help us?

Funding for our reporting relies entirely on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.

Become a Patron!
Opens in a new tab - you won't lose you place

UpriseRI is entirely supported by donations and advertising. Every little bit helps:

Become a Patron!


Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com