Due Process: Protective Wall for Judicial Rights of the Individual
When our government and judicial system are allowed to unilaterally suspend due process requirements in the Bill of Rights to achieve a political agenda, we are no longer a nation of laws. We are, in fact, no better than the dictatorships, past and present, whose violation of human rights we now condemn.
It’s two o’clock in the morning. There is a forceful pounding on your front door. In seconds, the door is blasted open, and your home is filled with shouting strangers who are well-armed and dressed in full military gear with automatic rifles.
If you were living in Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, or even colonial America under British rule, seized by terror, you could not imagine anything but a painful and perhaps fatal future.
Our victory in the War of Independence removed the yoke of tyranny from the shoulders of the colonists. Having lived under British oppression, neither the colonists nor their leaders trusted government to protect individual rights. In writing our governing documents, our nation’s founders included in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights rules of conduct to protect the citizens from abuse of power by the anticipated newly createrd central government.
In a dictatorship, of course, Due Process protections don’t exist. The government has no obligation to uphold the Natural Law Rights of any individual and will engage in any behavior, moral or immoral, to retain power. Tyrannical regimes rely on information of any kind provided by informants who might be your neighbor or even a former friend, relative, or colleague.
Once you become suspected of crimes against the government, there is no Bill of Rights to protect you. When the police show up at your door at 2 AM, you will not be told the nature of your crime. Your dwelling will be destructively searched, and anything of value stolen. You will be taken to a secret location, interrogated, probably tortured, and, most likely, imprisoned under harsh conditions or killed.
The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments in the Bill of Rights are the backbone of Due Process.
Amendment IV – Search and Seizure by Warrant specifying place to be searched and persons or things to be seized
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V – Grand Jury indictment; not required to be a witness against himself; deprivation of life liberty, or property without due process of law
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on apresentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI – speedy and public trial by impartial jury with assistance of witnesses and counsel for defense
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
The purpose of Due Process was to erect a protective wall between the citizens and the judicial power of government. Our founders’ concern was having a central government so powerful that it could prosecute citizens for real or fabricated crimes at will and then use control of the judicial system to ensure guaranteed indictments and convictions. Due process prevents the pre-emptive seizure of life, liberty, and private property by covert police action, warrantless arrest, or by clandestine judicial edicts.
Trust in Freedom and Resist Tyranny!
Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio this weekend is Clark Neily, Senior Vice President for Legal Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Neily played a direct legal role in both the District of Columbia v Heller and McDonald v Chicago Supreme Court cases involving the Second Amendment that was decided in favor of protecting individual gun rights.
Don’t miss part one of this three-part interview beginning this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, January 7-8, on WJRB 95.1 FM and streamed live over the Internet. Part two streams Saturday and Sunday, January 14-15, and part three streams Saturday and Sunday, January 21-22.
Air/Stream times are Saturday at 8:00 am and 9:30 am and Sunday at 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm. All programs are available by podcast following the show date here.