The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….” This provision guarantees that our life, liberty, or property will not be taken without due process of law.
W. Cleon Skousen explained that “This same provision is included in the Fourteenth Amendment to protect United States citizens from a loss of their rights by any of the states,
“`Due process of law’ is another descriptive name for legal, judicial, and governmental fair play in dealing with its citizens.
“`Due process’ has been broadly interpreted so that it does not necessarily require a trial in a court….
“This provision applies not only to the courts but to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government as well. None of these can confiscate property or deprive a personal of his life or liberty without due process of law.” (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 706.)
Gary Lawson of The Heritage Foundation further explained that “`due process of law’ made its first appearance in a statute of 1354 concerning court procedures. `Due process of law’ meant that judgments could only issue when the defendant was personally given the opportunity to appear in court pursuant to an appropriate write (i.e., was served process). The phrase retained this technical meaning in English law into the eighteenth century.
“At the time of the drafting of the Bill of Rights, at least eight state constitutions contained clauses restraining government from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property except pursuant to the law of the land….” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 335-336.)