Visiting Senior Fellow
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Currie Myers | October 10, 2018
Since the founding of our great nation and the development of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, Americans have been protected by due process. The purpose of due process is to ensure fairness in all legal matters, both civil and criminal, and to prevent prejudicial or unequal treatment in the justice system. Essentially, due process acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, and property by the government outside the sanction of law.
But in the last few years, due process rights for the individual accused of criminal and civil actions have drastically eroded, especially so in the court of public opinion. We need look no further than the Senate Hearings regarding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, which provoked a prominent debate over due process.
Outside of the Kavanaugh nomination we can look to other examples where other public officials and private citizens were denied their due process rights. Police officers are often tried in the court of public opinion through social media, causing prosecutors to respond with charges driven by public outrage rather than the elements of a criminal statute, furthering the public’s outrage when an acquittal occurs. For private citizens, the continued practice of civil asset forfeiture allows government authorities to seize property without due process rights for the owner in many cases.
The constitutional guarantee of due process provides, “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” American jurisprudence is no longer the arbiter of criminal or civil due process. Instead, due process is decided in the court of public opinion, government regulations, and by salacious allegations.