In natural rights philosophy, a limited government is a system restricted to protecting natural rights and that does not interfere with other aspects of life. Learning from the revolution in Great Britain, colonists created this country?s limited government in an attempt to protect their country from abuse of power. Both equal protection of the law and due process of law help limited government in preventing the abuse of power.
Due process of law is one of our country?s oldest constitutional principles. Taking a cue from the Magna Carta, it requires that the actions of government be conducted according to the rule of the law. It is the most important protection against arbitrary rule. Government officials were now just as accountable for their actions as anyone else. A police officer, or even the president, were now held to the same standards as the average citizen. By adding due process of law to the constitution in 1791, founders basically shot down the threat of corruption by stating that no government can be above the law.
Much like due process of law, Equal protection of the law is another way of safeguarding and regulating the use of power. A requirement of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, equal protection declares that state laws may not arbitrarily discriminate against persons. Protection of the law means that no group or individual can receive special privileges or be deprived of certain rights under the law. It reiterates the belief that our rights are God-given, and government has no right to deprive us of our unalienable rights. Along with due process of law, equal protection is one of the key principles of American Constitutionalism.
In reference to the 14th amendment, Senator Jacob M. Howard, one of the 14th Amendment?s authors, once stated, ?It establishes equality before the law, and it gives, to the humblest, the poorest, the most despised?the same rights and the same protection before the law as it gives to the most powerful, the most wealthy, or the most haughty?. Without this principle of equal justice to all men and equal protection under the shield of the law, there can be no republican government and none that is really worth maintaining. Together, due process and equal protection of law help check and balance the use of power in limited government. They protect our natural rights while at the same time avoiding interference in our lives.