In honor of political kerfluffles, congressional sit-ins, and other assorted chaos, I’d like to beg and plead with people to consider this thing called due process and how important it is.
Snagged right off of wikipedia, here it isn nutshell, “Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due process violation, which offends the rule of law.”
Due process is about our right to defend ourselves, it says we must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. It’s an absolutely critical component of our democracy, one that has taken a profound pounding in the past couple of decades. It is the only thing that protects us from false charges. It matters a great deal.
This is a very serious issue, so I don’t mean to make light of it, but I’ve experienced a couple of ridiculous things that really drove the point home. Due to somebody’s clerical error, I allegedly owed child support in another county for three kids I could not possibly have given birth to on account of the fact that I tend to remember these things. For those who don’t know, owing child support interferes with your credit, your ability to refinance a home, your driver’s license, your employment, your taxes, and will eventually end in a warrant for your arrest. I spent nearly a year trying to untangle myself from this mess.
The second thing that happened was my license to work got misplaced, flagged, lost in cyberspace, whatever. I could not work for six months while I jumped through hoops and tried to untangled red tape. Pretty scary that the government now controls our right to work in so many simple trades.
These were both civil matters, clerical errors mostly, bureaucracy at it’s finest. Unfortunately I am not alone, people go through these things all the time. There is no due process within bureaucracy or rather you can wait 90 days, file a complaint and get in line for an appeal to our grievance policy where you may or may not be given a chance to prove your innocence. Regardless, you are presumed guilty first, penalized first, and really have very limited due process rights.
Take these things from the civil realm and into the criminal world and we will soon have a very chilling situation where people can be penalized without any due process at all.