“The great object of the [14th] Amendment is ...to restrain the power of the States and compel them at all times to respect these great fundamental guarantees.”
–Justice Hugo Black
Duncan v. Louisiana
In 1966, a Louisiana teenager charged with battery requested a jury trial. The state turned him down and sentenced him to 60 days. But the Supreme Court today overturned his conviction, saying it violates the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a trial by jury.
When the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, it applied only to the federal government. In recent decades, the Court has been ruling that states, too, must respect most of these protections.
Why? Because the 14th Amendment forbids states from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Certain rights are so fundamental, the Court says, that they’re “incorporated” in the amendment’s guarantee of due process.
The Bill of Rights has been called the “cornerstone of our liberties." Today’s decision further extends the reach of its protection.