Americapedia

Justice

Justice includes many concepts found in criminal or civil justice: the fair, equal and reasonable treatment of individuals by the government; the fair enforcement of laws; and appropriate punishments for crimes. Citizens can ensure civil justice by knowing and obeying the law, reporting suspicions of crimes, testifying in court, serving on juries, protesting unjust laws, circulating and signing petitions, and lobbying for the passage of just laws and the repeal of unjust laws.

Many from the Founding era were especially concerned with justice. William Penn explained that “Impartiality is the life of justice, as that is of government.” The Declaration of Independence charged the King with being “deaf to the voice of justice.” The Preamble declares that the Constitution is meant to establish justice. Article III of the Constitution defines the judicial power of the United States and provides for jury trials. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments pertain to the administration of justice. The Thirteenth Amendment banned slavery and involuntary servitude, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause was adopted to ensure the just legal treatment of all Americans.

American individuals who fought for justice include George Washington, John Jay, James Wilson, John Quincy Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Thurgood Marshall, and Mary Beth Tinker.