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Due Process, Magna Charta, and the Charter for the

Province of Pennsylvania

A Tract Book Essay


Anthony J. Fejfar, B.A., J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2007 by Anthony J. Fejfar

One might wonder what Due Process of Law, if any, was applicable in States such

as Pennsylvania, prior to the enactment of the 14th Amendment to the United States

Constitution. I argue that Due Process of Law was present prior to the 14th Amendment,

and that such Due Process of Law on the State Level, continues even today.

In the Charter for the Province of Pennsylvania, 1681, the Charter clearly states

that all laws of Pennsylvania must be “consonant to reason.” This means both

substantive and procedural due process are required in the enforcement of any civil or

criminal law in Pennsylvania. With respect to substantive due process, this means that

any governmental law or action must be “reasonably related to a legitimate government

interest.” With respect to procedural due process, this means that the litigant, whether

civil or criminal, has the right to a fair hearing where there is an impartial trier of fact and

law, where the litigant can cross examine witnesses, where the rules of evidence apply,

and where the is a right of appeal.

Finally, the Charter of the Province of Pennsylvania states that so far as is

conveniently possible, the law of Pennsylvania, as of that time, should conform to the

laws of England. This means that Pennsylvania is required to follow the requirements

of Magna Charta, the British Constitution. Magna Charta requires that no person can be
deprived of life, liberty, or property, without a jury trial in accordance with the law of the

land, that is, in accordance with the Natural Law of Liberty, and procedural and

substantive due process. Thus, it is clear that Pennsylvania has both substantive and

procedural due process rights without referring to the 14the Amendment of the United

States Constitution.