The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

Due Process

How Due Process Limits Government

It is unlikely that there was anything approaching a complete consensus among the Framers as to precisely what “due process of law” means. The Framers were, after all, a large group of educated, ardent, strong-willed men who disagreed about many things.

But it is reasonable to suggest that, while the other procedural rights named in the Bill of Rights were meant to limit all of the branches of government, the “due process” clause was directed only at the executive and judicial branches. It was as if to say: “in addition to the procedures specifically named here, the police and the courts are also bound by the common law and the statutes passed by the legislature, whatever the legislature may decide those laws to be.” Today, the courts apply the requirements of “due process” to all branches of government, including legislatures, but not always in the same way.