The Due Process Clause serves two basic goals. One is to produce, through the use of fair procedures, more accurate results: to prevent the wrongful deprivation of interests. The other goal is to make people feel that the government has treated them fairly by, say, listening to their side of the story.
The Due Process Clause is essentially a guarantee of basic fairness. Fairness can, in various cases, have many components: notice, an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time in a meaningful way, a decision supported by substantial evidence, etc. In general, the more important the individual right in question, the more process that must be afforded. No one can be deprived of their life, for example, without the rigorous protections of a criminal trial and special determinations about aggravating factors justifying death. On the other hand, suspension of a driver's license may occur without many of the same protections.
The cases on this page all concern the due process rights of students. In Goss v Lopez, the Court considers what due process means for students facing temporary suspension from school because of their alleged violations of school discipline rules. The Court concludes that accused students must be afforded an informal hearing with school administrators before such suspensions. In Ingraham v Wright, the issue is whether a hearing of some sort must precede corporal punishment by a school teacher. Finally, Horowitz v Board of Curators considers what procedures are required before a student may be dismissed for academic failure.
[No State shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
2. How does the Court determine whether an individual interest is a property interest within the meaning of the Due Process Clause? What might create "a legitimate claim of entitlement in law"?
3. How does the Court determine whether an individual interest is a liberty interest within the meaning of the Due Process Clause?
4. If a state might create property interests through contracts, why can it not at the same time limit the process it will afford when it takes away those interests it has created?
5. What two factors does the Court look to in weighing an individual interest to determine how much process must be afforded before it is taken away?
6. In weighing an individual interest to determine the amount of process to be afforded, should we look at the importance of the interest in question to the particular litigant before the court, or instead look at the interest's importance to the category of persons who might object to its deprivation by the government?