Due Process of Law
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Due process of law is a legal requirement in which the state must assure that all rights to which an individual is entitled are respected. In modern legal terms, due process limits legal proceedings so that judges are the final arbiters of fairness under the law. Due process of law, as a concept, originated in 1215 with the Magna Carta.
In the United States, due process of law is covered by the following two amendments:
- The Fifth Amendment - The protection against self-incrimination
- Fourteenth Amendments - Guarantees equal protection under the law to all citizens
The Fourteenth Amendment, passed in the wake of the Civil War and has been the most profoundly transformative Amendment in American history. Both of these amendments contain due process clauses. In these cases, the due process of law acts as a safeguard from the arbitrary denial of the basic freedoms of life, liberty and property.
In modern legal parlance, then, due process of law is the principle that the individual cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without the appropriate legal procedures. Much of modern legal understanding of the due process of law stems from the 1897 Supreme Court decision Allgeyer v. Louisiana, in which the Court first used due process to overturn a state statute. Under due process of law, legal procedures must be followed for each person so that no one receives either prejudicial or unequal treatment.