Angela Kang 2015-06-01 21:16:08
Law Day Editorial The Impact of the Magna Carta THE MAGNA CARTA, FROM ITS CONCEPTION, HAS SERVED A CRUCIAL ROLE IN DEVELOPING MODERN-DAY DEMOCRACY AND PROTECTING INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES. Though it first started as an open-ended, situational document, the idea of preserving the law from an overreach of authority has had a lasting and beneficial impact on citizens globally, throughout history and today. Birthed in 1215, into the corrupt and chaotic world of King John, the Magna Carta was one of the only legitimate protections against authoritative actions. The barons paid for John’s messy reign, as he raised taxes surreptitiously to pay for his territorial ambitions. He also infringed upon the barons’ economic rights by turning over their land to the church. John was the epitome of opportunistic corruption—a figure that served himself only; he had to be forced to sign the Magna Carta after civil war threats. From that point, the Magna Carta was expanded to include others and was the forerunner of the Constitution and English Bill of Rights in its judicial concepts—“no one is above the law.” Its creation was a catalyst for democracy—overcoming corruption for the fight of the individual. It was the world’s first written constitution that called for the rule, fairness, and due process of law, as well as the respect for economic rights—the first document in English history to limit the power of the monarch, a huge step for democracy. Before, it was given that the monarch was powerful, but the Magna Carta stimulated the realization that the common people could, and should, ask for power as well. Along with broadening individual rights, the Magna Carta expanded the role of justice on the people today. As it established the beginnings of a parliamentary government, there was a shift of attention from the individual ruler to the individuals of the ruled. This shift contributed to democratic sentiment, seen directly in the American colonial arguments against tyrannical taxation such as the Stamp Act, which invoked the document. Federalists fought for a constitution that followed the same foundational idea as the Magna Carta—that people were the ultimate sovereign. It has been continually invoked in courts, such as in the 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case that involved the holding of suspected terrorists without charge and the similar Boumediene v. Bush case, as an argument that no man should be imprisoned contrary to the law of the land. The basal ideas of the Constitution are the same as that of the Magna Carta’s, from the constitutional right to due process to habeas corpus—that “to no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice” (Magna Carta Clause 40). The Magna Carta still stands as one of the most influential documents today in understanding liberty and individual rights. The Magna Carta is remembered as a protector of justice and the people, continually being expanded and invoked as a symbol of judicial righteousness. As in the past, we will continue to look back upon this document as a root of modern democracy. To see the full collection of winning entries, go to texasbar.com/lawday.
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