Procedural Rights

Topics: United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Due process Pages: 6 (2390 words) Published: March 19, 2008
"The history of liberty has largely been the history of observance of procedural safeguards." We agree with this quote because our country is based on the right to have our guaranteed protection of life, liberty and property. Two of the greatest procedural guarantees that insure liberty are the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. According to the Fifth Amendment, a capital crime is punishable by death, while an infamous crime is punishable by death or imprisonment. This amendment guarantees that no one has to stand trial for such a federal crime unless indicted by a grand jury. Further, a person cannot be put in double jeopardy for the same offense by the same government. The amendment also guarantees that a person cannot be forced to testify against himself, and forbids the government from taking a person's property for public use without fair payment. Finally, this amendment deals with the "due process of law" for which it is probably best know. The takings clause of the Fifth Amendment states that private property cannot be taken by the government for public use without just compensation to the property owner. The drafters of the Bill of Rights included a takings clause to address outright physical appropriations of private property, such as government expropriation of private land for the paving of roads, since colonial governments' often confiscated private property for public projects without paying its owners. Because certain seventeenth century English courts forced confessions of heresy from religious dissenters, the framers of the Bill of Rights, were careful to include in the Fifth Amendment the provision that a person has the right to remain silent, and shall not be compelled to testify against himself in a criminal prosecution, it has also been interpreted to protect anyone questioned by a government agency, including a congressional committee. The grand jury determines whether a person can be tried for a crime. Guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, the right to be indicted by a grand jury meant to protect the accused from unjust prosecutors. The Fourteenth Amendment is one of the post-Civil War amendments, first intended to secure rights for former slaves. It includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses among others. It is perhaps the most significant structural change to the Constitution since the passage of the United States Bill of Rights. The amendment provides a broad definition of United States citizenship, overturning the Dred Scott case, which excluded African Americans. It requires the states to provide equal protection under the law to all persons (not only to citizens) within their jurisdictions. Its Due Process Clause has driven much important and controversial case law regarding privacy rights, such abortion and other issues. The first section formally defines citizenship and protects people's civil rights from infringement by any State. The provisions in Section 1 have been interpreted to the effect that children born on United States soil, with very few exceptions, are U.S. citizens. The phrase and subject to the jurisdiction thereof indicates that there are some exceptions to the universal rule that birth on U.S. soil automatically grants citizenship. In the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the Supreme Court ruled that a person born within the territorial boundaries of the United States is eligible for birthright citizenship regardless of the nationality of his or her parents. The only exceptions to this rule identified in Wong Kim Ark concern diplomats, enemy forces in hostile occupation of the United States, and members of Native American tribes. The second section establishes rules for the apportioning of representatives in Congress to states, essentially counting all residents for apportionment and reducing apportionment if a state wrongfully denies a person's right to vote. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court held that the states could impose segregation so long as they...
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