Due Process of the law, a legal principle, is a guaranteed right that was provided to us by the Constitution and it simply means we have protections. These rights that are guaranteed to us are “life, liberty and property without a chance to defend them”; some also believe that we also have the right to a “pursuit of happiness”. (Bill of Rights). When we think about Due Process we need to think fair process or fair procedures. This practice is known as Procedural Due Process.
“Standing by itself, the phrase “due process” would seem to refer solely and simply to procedure, to process in court, and therefore to be so limited that “due process of the law” would be what the legislative branch enacted to be” (Heritage.org/constitution) . The Fifth Amendment states that we have the right to due process. Which if you are accused of a crime it means that the accusers must show fair and reasonable circumstances. Due process means that you have the rights to show cause and be taken to court swiftly. This process is called an arraignment.
This right is one of the guarantees of the Fifth Amendment. The Constitution clearly defined and separated federal and state powers. The Constitution also provides the protection of individual rights which include but are not limited to a trial by jury if it is a criminal case. Because of the fifth and the fourteenth amendment we have certain guaranteed due process of law simply means that we have protection against a chance deprivation of life, liberty or property. The fourteenth amendment is the actual key that opens the door for the federal government to make sure that the states laws are lining up with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The Clause In other words and basically means “fundamental fairness”.(Constitution and the Bill of Rights). The definition of fairness is the condition of being just and impartial. That is what is alluded to and a guaranteed of the federal and state laws and is inclusive. In 1787 a United States Constitution was drafted with a system of checks and balances by the creation of the executive, legislative and federal judicial branches of government. The Framers of the Constitution did not consider it a necessity to include a specific right in the bill of rights. At first when the Bill of Rights was put together it was not inclusive of all people.
Especially, people of color remembering they were slaves and owned by the framers of the Constitution. It wasn’t until the Civil War was won by the North was the Bill of Rights and the Constitution revised and amendments were added. The thirteenth amendment was the one that made sure that there was no longer slavery. By the end of the eighteenth century, citizens felt that a written constitution was an absolute must. The Constitution was not inclusive of certain rights.
“There was an absence of specific guarantees of individual rights such as the right to free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom from governmental search and seizure.” (Legal Dictionary,Due Process). Federalist and Anti-Federalist had very lively debates the Federalist was against and the Anti-Federalist were for the bill of rights. The leader of the Federalist was Alexander Hamilton, he was so opposed to including the bill of rights because he did not see the necessity.
The federalist most of them were slave owners there was no need to list specific rights since the national government could execute only the limited powers authorized to it in the Constitution. (Samaha 31-32) The limitation of federal government powers ensured individuals from federal interference. James Madison, convinced the bill of rights was necessary to ensure acceptance of the Constitution, started to draft the original bill of rights. Hurtado v. California was decided in 188, this particular case rejected the idea of due process.
This case involved Joseph Hurtado and Jose Estuardo what was so interesting about this case is that these two gentlemen were friend. Jose Hurtado was seeing Joseph Hurtado wife. When he asked him to leave town Hose simply replied that he would. He didn’t leave but continued to see Joseph wife. Joseph responded by shooting him once in the chest, then in the back,(Cortner 1981, 18,19). What makes this case a rejection of the due process is that the state of California refused to follow the process of a grand jury indictment by grand jury review.
The prosecutors made the decision to indict Mr. Hurtado. This was a clear violation of the fifth and the fourteenth amendment. They indicted him using” charging by information” method. A long story short Hurtdo was sentenced to be hung by his neck by the judge. The decision was upheld by the state court. Hurtdo appealed to the United States Supreme Court and they decided to uphold the lower court decision. Their thought was that the state criminal procedure was a local matter and none of the federal government business.
Much to my surprise I thought they would overrule the state’s decision. This case was a clear violation of Joseph Hurtdo fifth and fourteenth amendment. The Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965) the “intent” was to protect certain private areas from governmental interferences.
The Supreme Court ruling in the Connecticut statue did prohibit the use of contraceptives was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Individual rights such as the right to marry, the right to choose whether to keep a child or to abort the child,(Roe vs. Wade), is the choice of the individual and not the government.
Another case that I want to discuss is the Scottsboro Boys whose rights were taken advantage of. They were people of color who were accused of throwing so white boys off the train and also accused of raping two white girls. There were nine of them one was only twelve, another was blind in one eye and only had ten percent vision in the other eye. These gentlemen were tried and convicted to death by electrocution.
There was popular support for the Scottsboro boys. A long story short it was ruled that denying a right in the Bill of Rights violates fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions” (Samah,33) It embraced within the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
I think that it is so important that the fore fathers of our country put in place the Fifth Amendment and the fourteenth amendment guarantee us due process. Due process helps the citizens of the United States from being taken advantage of. By that I mean that the courts would do what they willed against the constituents of the United States, especially people of color. Due process helps to protect a person against unfair and false accusations.
Federalist Paper: Federalist No. 84. New York: McLean’s Edition, 1787. Criminal Procedure: The meaning of Due Process
Courtney from Study Moose
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