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Due Process & Taking the Fifth & Fourteenth Amendments

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  • 0:07 Due Process
  • 2:57 The 5th and 14th Amendments
  • 4:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

There are only two amendments that stand for the same rights: the 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment. In this lesson, we will learn how both amendments speak to the rights of life, liberty and property with government protection and due process.

Due Process

Due process simply means all legal proceedings will be fair. The government cannot interfere with a citizen's right to life, liberty or property as guaranteed in the 5th and the 14th Amendments. It also means every citizen has a right to adequate warning of legal proceedings and a right to a speedy trial or to be heard before a court. There are two types of due process:

  • Procedural due process
  • Substantive due process

Procedural due process states that any proceedings brought on against a citizen must be in accordance with the rules of law. In other words, governing bodies must follow the procedures in place to bring about any type of legal action. In procedural due process, the government cannot act in violation of a citizen's right to life, liberty or property. In short, this type of due process ensures fairness.

Perhaps a case will help clear things up. Goldberg v. Kelly (1970) is a landmark appellate court case that demonstrates how procedural due process works as it relates to the violation of one of the three key rights extended under the 5th and the 14th Amendments. Kelly, along with other New York City welfare recipients, sued Goldberg, head of the welfare payment department, for violating procedural due process when their benefits were cut without warning. On appeal, the court ruled that welfare benefits were a property right and required a hearing prior to the termination of aid.

Substantive due process, on the other hand, deals with the government's right to protect citizens' fundamental rights to life, liberty or property. Roe v. Wade (1973) explains substantive due process clearly. In this historic case, Roe, an unmarried Texas woman, wanted to abort her unborn child. Under Texas law, abortion was a felony unless the abortion was a medical necessity and only in cases where the mother's life was in jeopardy.

Roe sued Wade, then district attorney, claiming that the law was in violation of her 14th Amendment right to liberty. In other words, Roe believed that she had a right to abort her child. Roe prevailed and the Supreme Court reversed any state law that prohibited abortion in early pregnancy.

While substantive and procedural due process sound quite similar, think of it in this way: procedural due process deals with the way things are done, like protecting citizens from having benefits they are entitled to terminated without notice. Substantive due process, on the other hand, applies to the basic rights of citizens under the amendments, like prohibiting government involvement in a woman's right to choose abortion.

The 5th and 14th Amendments

Unlike other amendments, the 5th and the 14th Amendments contain very similar language as it relates to a citizen's right to due process. However, there are differences. Let's take a look at each amendment separately. The 5th Amendment guarantees:

  • No citizen can be forced to answer to a crime without formal charges.
  • No citizen can be charged with the same crime twice.
  • No citizen can be forced to self-incriminate.
  • No citizen can be deprived of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness without due process.
  • No citizen shall have his private property taken for public use.

Basically, if a person was to commit a crime, he must be formally charged and has a right to answer to the charges. Once convicted of a crime, one cannot be re-tried for the crime. During the process of arrest or trial, no citizen can be forced to testify against himself. Due process is mandatory and must be extended to all people.

For example, the police cannot imprison a person without formal charges, an indictment or a conviction. The indictment or conviction is the due process. Lastly, the government cannot take a person's possessions at will and for no reason without paying him back.

The 14th Amendment guarantees:

  • Any person born in the United States has a right to citizenship.
  • No citizen can be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process.
  • All citizens are guaranteed equal protection.

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