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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Magna Carta 800 Next Month

For John, BLUFNot perfect, but yes, pointing in the direction we should wish to go.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Wall Street Journal, which is often behind a paywall, we have, for Saturday, "Magna Carta:  Eight Centuries of Liberty".
June marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the ‘Great Charter’ that established the rule of law for the English-speaking world.  Its revolutionary impact still resounds today, writes Daniel Hannan
Those of us old enough to remember the 1950s TV show, The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Mr Richard Greene, know that Prince John (later King John) was a very bad guy.  The Barons, however, got him to sign the Magna Carta, which has been good for us ever since.
Eight hundred years ago next month, on a reedy stretch of riverbank in southern England, the most important bargain in the history of the human race was struck.  I realize that’s a big claim, but in this case, only superlatives will do.  As Lord Denning, the most celebrated modern British jurist put it, Magna Carta was “the greatest constitutional document of all time, the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

It was at Runnymede, on June 15, 1215, that the idea of the law standing above the government first took contractual form. King John accepted that he would no longer get to make the rules up as he went along.  From that acceptance flowed, ultimately, all the rights and freedoms that we now take for granted:  uncensored newspapers, security of property, equality before the law, habeas corpus, regular elections, sanctity of contract, jury trials.

There it is.  Limits on Government.  What a wonderful concept.

William Penn published the first copy of the Great Charter on American soil in 1687 and had these words about what made Englishmen unique:

In France, and other nations, the mere will of the Prince is Law, his word takes off any man’s head, imposeth taxes, or seizes any man’s estate, when, how and as often as he lists; But in England, each man hath a fixed Fundamental Right born with him, as to freedom of his person and property in his estate, which he cannot be deprived of, but either by his consent, or some crime, for which the law has imposed such a penalty or forfeiture.
Regards  —  Cliff

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