Due Process of Law
The principle of due process of law means that the government must follow duly-enacted laws when it seeks to restrict or deny fundamental rights, including a person’s rights to life, liberty, or property. In essence, it means that the government must treat its citizens fairly, following laws and established procedures in everything it does. It is the commitment to this principle that makes the United States, as John Adams once noted, “a government of laws, and not of men.”
How Do Due Process Protections for the Accused Protect Us All?
The Founders paid close attention to the rights of the accused because they realized that the government had the power both to prosecute and convict. Protections were needed to guard against the government's abuse of these powers. Understanding how the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments operate to guarantee such protection and how they work to ensure both individual liberty and limit government is vital to maintaining free citizenship. This lesson explores these amendments and the protections they provide.