Due process

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Due process is the principle that the government must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law. Due process holds the government subservient to the law of the land protecting individual persons from the state. When a government harms a person, without following the exact course of the law, then that is a due process violation which offends the rule of law.

Due process has also been frequently interpreted as limiting laws and legal proceedings (see substantive due process), so judges - instead of legislators - may define and guarantee fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. This interpretation has proven controversial, and is analogous to the concepts of natural justice, and procedural justice used in various other jurisdictions. This interpretation of due process is sometimes expressed as a command that the government shall not be unfair to the people.

Contents

Development in common law

In England

In clause 39 of the Magna Carta, John of England promised as follows: "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."[1] Magna Carta itself immediately became part of the "law of the land", and Clause 61 of that great charter authorized an elected body of twenty-five barons to determine by majority vote what redress the King must provide when the King offends "in any respect against any man."[1] Thus, Magna Carta established the rule of law in England by not only requiring the monarchy to obey the law of the land, but also limiting how the monarchy could change the law of the land. It should be noted, however, that in the thirteenth century these provisions may have been referring only to the rights of landowners, and not to ordinary peasantry or villagers.[2]

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