You are currently viewing Due Process Clause 5th And 14th Amendments

Due Process Clause 5th And 14th Amendments

The United States Constitution is the oldest surviving framework of government in the world. Signed in 1787, it is still considered the supreme law of the United States today. The Constitution separates the powers that each branch of federal government is responsible for. Often referred to as, “checks and balances,” each branch of government has the power and duty to check the other two branches to ensure no one branch becomes too powerful. There are three branches of the federal government – legislative, executive, and judicial. 

The legislative branch, also known as congress, is made up of the senate and the house of representatives. The legislature is responsible for writing, debating, and passing bills which become laws when signed by the president. 

The executive branch is made up of the President and Vice President of the United States, along with their cabinet. Their main duty is to sign bills to make them laws, or to veto bills to reject proposed laws.   

The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of the United States, along with other federal district and appeals courts.  Their main duty is to determine whether laws enacted by Congress and other authorities violate the constitution, and to overturn laws that do. 

The Constitution also lays out certain liberties and freedoms we enjoy as individual citizens. It aims to strike a balance between how much authority federal and state governments have versus how much individual freedom we have as citizens. One way the Constitution protects individual freedom is through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which reads, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The due process clause originally only applied to the federal government through the 5th Amendment but has since been incorporated to the states through the 14th Amendment. According to a personal injury lawyer, there are two types of due process protections – procedural due process and substantive due process. 

Procedural Due Process 

Procedural due process protections are triggered when the government deprives a citizen of life, liberty, or property without adequate process. Before the government can deprive an individual of life, liberty, or property, the person must be given notice and the opportunity to be heard by a neutral decision maker. 

Substantive Due Process 

Substantive due process protections are triggered when the government deprives a citizen of life, liberty, or property without adequate justification. Substantive due process protects individuals from laws passed by the government that violate certain fundamental rights

What Is A Fundamental Right? 

Fundamental rights stem from rights that are explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, along with rights that the Supreme Court has decided are implied from the Constitution. When posed with determining if a right is fundamental, the court looks to see if the right is, “rooted in tradition and conscience of our people,” and if it is, “essential to our scheme of liberty.” The analysis is a historical one and tends to lean against recognizing new rights. Some examples of fundamental rights include, but are not limited to, First Amendment rights (such as freedom of religion, and freedom of speech), the right to vote, the right to travel, and the right to privacy (which includes the right to marry and the right to raise a family). 

What Is The Appropriate Level Of Review?

If a right is considered fundamental, the government is obligated to adhere to the strict scrutiny standard. If the right being infringed on is not a fundamental right, the individual challenging the law has the burden of meeting rational basis review to strike down the law. 

Strict Scrutiny. If a law appears to violate a fundamental right, the government is required to justify this infringement by satisfying the strict scrutiny standard. This entails demonstrating a compelling interest that is narrowly tailored to achieve the law’s intended objective and justify the infringement. The government has the burden of persuading the Court that a “compelling interest,” exists, which means a truly vital interest is served by the law in question. The government also must show that the law is necessary to achieve that interest. This requires proof that the purpose of the law could not be attained through any less restrictive means. Strict scrutiny is the highest standard of review and usually strikes down the challenged law as unconstitutional.

Rational Basis. Alternatively, if a right is not fundamental, the law must only be rationally related to a legitimate purpose. “Rationally related,” and “legitimate purpose,” are construed very broadly, making this level of review very deferential to the government. Most laws that infringe on non-fundamental rights are upheld as constitutional, as rational basis is a low threshold. 

 Thanks to Eglet Adams Eglet Ham and Henriod for their insight on the Due Process Clause.

If you believe your rights have been violated, contact a lawyer near you for help.