Through which clause did state governments become bound by the Bill of Rights?

A. The citizenship clause.

B. The equal protection clause.

C. The due process clause.

D. The enforcement clause.

The correct answer is C: The due process clause.

The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment states that no one shall be deprived of liberty, property or life without the due process of law. The 5th Amendment only restricts the federal government, but the Due Process Clause applies to all state governments.

All levels of American governments should operate within the law and give fair procedures to all persons in the US. They can’t be discriminated against without any good reason. The state is required to have a rational basis or a good reason for such choices.

The clause also applies to private contracts. “Freedom of contract” can be enforced without the enactment of different economic and social regulations passed by state and federal governments.

Due process also requires a judge to remove himself from a case if there’s a conflict of interest that exists in it. New York was the first state to include the term “due process” in its statutory Bill of Rights in 1787.

Applications of Due Process

The passing of the 14th Amendment allowed due process to be applied to states as well. The process itself would be assessed under the text of the Constitution to decide if an action satisfies the guidelines of due process and to determine if there are conflicts.

These rights are considered to be enumerated due process rights and mentioned in the Constitution. There are also due process rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution.

Procedural Due Process

Government officials are required to follow fair procedures before denying a person of property, life or liberty. The procedural due process requires the government to give the person a chance to be heard.

It is required for an impartial decision maker to give his decision. The procedural due process covers all government measures that can result in a person’s deprivation of administrative hearings or parole violation hearings.

Criminal Procedural Due Process

The 14th Amendment’s due process clause requires certain procedural protection for state prisoners who may be moved unwillingly to a state mental hospital for management or treatment of a defect or mental disease.

Such protection includes a written notice of the move, written findings, an adversary trial before an independent decision maker and a timely notification of such rights.

The prisoner must be given a chance at the trial to present the testimony of witnesses as well as to confront and cross-examine witnesses called by the state, except upon the discovery of good cause for not allowing such confrontation, cross-examination or presentation.

The state should also provide an inmate a legal counsel if the prisoner is fiscally unable to get his own.

Civil Procedural Due Process

The procedural due process includes a person’s right to be sufficiently informed of proceedings or charges and to be heard at these proceedings.

It also requires the panel or person making the final decision to be impartial about the matter before them. In other words, a person facing a deprivation of liberty, property or life is entitled to an impartial judge, proper notice and a hearing.

Substantive Due Process

The substantive due process is usually used to indicate a certain attitude to judicial review under the due process clause or to determine a certain line of case law.

It covers liberty-based due process challenges that seek a particular outcome instead of simply disputing procedures as well as their effects.

The substantive due process includes the right to marry, raise a child as a parent and work in an ordinary job. The substantive due process is still raised in cases today, but it has received criticism as well.

The Supreme Court looks into three kinds of rights under substantive due process in the 14th Amendment. Those rights include the first eight amendments to the Bill of Rights, the rights of insular and discrete minorities and limitations on the political process such as rights of voting, free speech, and association.

The Court usually examines if the right is found deeply rooted in American traditions and history to determine if there’s a fundamental right.

A rational basis test is conducted if the right isn’t a fundamental right. The law is held binding if the violation of the right can be judiciously linked to an authentic government purpose.

Incorporation of the Bill of Rights

Incorporation pertains to the lawful doctrine wherein the Bill of Rights is applied to state governments through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The basis for incorporation includes the following:

  • Procedural due process on the subject of procedural rights enumerated in the Constitution
  • Substantive due process on the subject of substantive rights mentioned in the Constitution

The Supreme Court has held that the 5th Amendment’s Due Process Clause means considerably the same as with the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

When the Bill of Rights was initially proposed in 1789, different procedural and substantive rights were categorized according to their similarity to each other.

Incorporation increased the power of the Supreme Court to define rights. It also altered the meaning of the Bill of Rights. From a series of limitations on government power, the Bill of Rights became a set of rights that belong to a person and is guaranteed by the national government.

Void for Vagueness

Laws are void for vagueness if it uses too ambiguous or indefinite words. Such laws deprive a person of his or her rights to due process.

Laws that are not properly drafted don’t inform the public of exactly what conduct is forbidden, who is regulated or what punishment may be enforced by law.

Two types of scrutiny are usually used when an act of government or law is seen as a violation of a person’s rights under the due process clause.

Judicial review balances the significance of the governmental action being presented and the relevance of the government’s method of enactment against the subsequent violation of individual rights.

If the governmental interest violates a fundamental right, strict scrutiny or the highest level of review is used. The act or law should be narrowly designed to pass the test and to improve a compelling government action.


  1. The Heritage Guide to The Constitution. Retrieved from
  2. The Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Retrieved from  umn.ed
  3. Due Process Defined. Retrieved from
  4. Due Process. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from
  5. The Fourteenth Amendment and Incorporation. Bills of Rights Institute. Retrieved from


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