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The Rule Of Law Essay

1289 words - 5 pages

The Rule of Law The Magna Carta 1215 and the Bill of Rights 1688 were attempts made by
people of the time to enforce the rule of law in Britain. The rule of
law is a set of values or principles that are the cornerstone of our
legal system. These principles are known or readily discoverable and
therefore do not change without notice; are reasonably clear; apply
prospectively, not retroactively; and enforced through public trials
based upon rational procedural rules before arbiters independent of
the state and all others. The purpose of the rule of law is to remove
both the reality of injustice and the sense of injustice, thus
preventing individuals from taking the law into their own hands as
would occur under natural law or anarchy. The rule of law advocates
that no one, not even Kings, politicians, government officials etc…
are above the law.

During the medieval period a transition took place in Britain that
moved the feudal belief that the King was subject to law to the King
being above the law. According to Clarke, the idea of Kings being
above the law was transmitted via Latin Christianity. Thus Catholic
monarchs took advantage of this belief to do as they pleased. In the
13th Century Britain, King John believed strongly in the divine right
of Kings and as such did much against custom eventually leading to his
forced signing of the Magna Carta in 1215AD by his barons. The idea
behind the Magna Carta being that the customary law was written and
agreed to by the King and thus their rights protected from the King's
arbitrariness. The following sections of the Magna Carta give some
indication of an attempt to uphold the rule of law: S17 Common pleas
shall not follow the court but be held in some fixed place; S39 No
freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or diseased or exiled or in any
way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by
the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land; S40 To no
one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice;
S45 We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs
only such as know the law of the realm and mean to observe it well.
However this attempt was not very effective, as future kings only
observed the Magna Carta's provisions when it suited them. This
problem became apparent in the 17th century under kings: James I,
Charles I, James II, and Charles II and culminated with the Glorious
Revolution and the signing of the Bill of Rights 1688.

The Glorious Revolution was the result of a series of kings doing as
they pleased against the rule of law. Clarke states:

"In the sixteenth century in England the constitutional practice
emerged that major changes in national policy were made by...

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