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December 06, 2007

Signed copy of Magna Carta on sale in NYC

All I want for Christmas... [AP]

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I'd like to buy it and send it to the White House, or maybe the Supreme Court.

I saw it at the National Archives this last January, and was surprised that it was there. I hadn't known there was a copy on this side of the Atlantic.

Now that we've decided we no longer need Habeas corpus, I guess it seems appropriate to sell it off. Maybe someone can use it to patch a roof or line a birdcage.

"I'd like to buy it and send it to the White House, or maybe the Supreme Court."

Why so they could burn it?

That's odd. The Great Writ of Habeas Corpus appears to be covered with a chewed-up wad of Hubba Bubba and a piece of paper saying "But sometimes kidnapping is totally cool." I'll update Wikipedia.

You can put it on your Master Carda...

Magna Carta doesn't mention the Great Writ.

How quaint.

Habeas was alreay part of the common law when the Magna Carta written, and the concept gets reaffirmed therein:

Magna Carta obliquely makes reference to Habeas Corpus through express reference to “the law of the land”. From Magna Carta the exact quote is: “...no free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed except by the lawful judgment of their peers or by the law of the land.” The practice and right of Habeas Corpus was settled practice and law at the time of Magna Carta and was thus a fundamental part of the unwritten common “law of the land” as was expressly recognized by Magna Carta.--Joseph Dale Robertson

"I'd like to buy it or send it to the White House, or perhaps the Supreme Court."

I'm afraid George would value it less highly than Saddam Hussein's pistol; it would probably just remind him of all that book-learnin' he holds in such contempt. Cheney or Scalia, however, might like a copy just to remind them of the deeply tragic persecution of kings down the ages.

If sent to the white house or the current supreme court it will last only as long as the janitors remember to restock the asswipe in the crappers.

Maybe, if we combine pennies, and all pitch in, we could buy it for LB.

"Habeas was alreay part of the common law when the Magna Carta written"

That is very cool to know. I did not know the concept went back that far. Still, it seems to me the idea is somewhat useless till the concept of a Constitution (a law so supreme that even the sovereign can not change it at will) became predominant in the 1600s. Habeus corpus may have been ratified in the 1200s, but it was routinely violated in 1620s and 1630s. Popular revulsion to the frequent use of torture, by the Stuart kings, became one of many contributing factors leading to the revolutionary activity of the 1640s.

It's the first known document that says that mans law cannot be held lower than some fake-god's law, and in fact, should be held higher.

"It's the first known document that says that mans law cannot be held lower than some fake-god's law, and in fact, should be held higher."

That's a fascinating interpretation. Is there any particular historian who's known to be good at elborating upon this particular interpretation? The early intellectual origins of the Enlightenment is a personal interest of mine. I'd love to know how the Magna Carta was perceived and interpreted before 1604.

Yes, Magna Carta does say that no "free man" - serfs were not protected - could be imprisoned without due process. But the genius of habeas is that it provides a remedy for a violation of this rule. Habeas is a "writ" - that is, it is formal order of a court. The writ procedure allows anyone on behalf of an imprisoned person to apply to a court, which then orders the jailer to show that the imprisonment is lawful. This is an extraordinarily powerful tool for the protection of individual liberty. Magna Carta recognizes the right, but it does not provide the remedy.

That's a helpful distinction. Thanks, Bloix.

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