In 1984, Congress passed the Bail Reform Act. This legislation requires courts to detain persons charged with serious crimes, before trial, if the government can show they are a danger to society. Two men (detained pretrial) challenged the Act as unconstitutional. They claimed that the law violated their Fifth and Eleventh Amendment rights. The United States Supreme Court in United States v. Salerno disagreed (in a 6-3 decision).
Justice Rehnquist, writing for the majority on May 26, 1987, explained that there were procedural safeguards in place that protected the suspected criminal’s rights. For example, arrestees are guaranteed a hearing to contest their detention, as well as a speedy trial. The Court decided that the community’s safety can outweigh an individual’s liberty under certain circumstances.