The United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution have to credit many key provisions and the foundation of American laws and freedoms to the June 15, 1215 signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, England, by then King John of England.
The origin of the 13th century Magna Carta began as the rebellion by numerous barons who found that King John’s tyrannical rule needed to be curtailed. The Magna Carta was drafted with some 63 individual clauses. When the final draft was finally completed, it was signed at Runnymede because it was located in a place that was far enough away from King John’s castle at Windsor and still far enough away from some who rebelled against the king to make it the ideal location for the sealing of the Great Charter.
Just six weeks after the Magna Carta was sealed, the Pope in Rome ordered that the Magna Carta be revoked calling it antithetical to the right of the kings of Europe and elsewhere. With the Pope’s order revocation, a civil war broke out in England. King John, however, died five months later and his eldest son Henry became the king. When King Henry took over the realm, he reinstated the Magna Carta to restore peace in the land, ending the English civil war.
In the early days of the American colonies, colonists rebelled against England’s imposition of certain duties and taxes on the basis that they should be considered Englishmen, but instead were denied such rights of citizenship and were without representation in the English Parliament. Many of America’s colonists often referred to the Magna Carta as the rights of the people who included the American colonists who some considered made themselves to be Englishmen. For one, colonists believe that they had the right to a jury trial just as Englishmen did, given the proclamations found in the Magna Carta.
The influence of the Magna Carta is found in the constitutions of the United States and Illinois, the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. It is truly a remarkable document whose influence continues to be the foundation of governing around the world.
Language from the clauses of the Magna Carta can be found in the American laws relating to the writ of habeas corpus, the right to a jury trial for all crimes and the due process clause, fundamental rights found in the U.S and Illinois Constitutions.
The celebration of the Magna Carta will be attended by many American lawyers and a group from the American Bar Association. The Illinois State Bar Association passed a resolution in support of the 800th anniversary and authorized its president to designate representatives to attend the ABA celebration in England. That celebration will be held at Runnymede June 11 to June 14, 2015 and it is anticipated that Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family and much of the English legal community will be in attendance.
It is truly historic that English and American law arose from this 800 year old charter which remains the standard of all nations who wish to include basic freedoms on its population.
Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices is a nearly 40-year member of both the American Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. Many other Chicago-based legal and non-legal organizations have planned celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the great weight it has played on governments around the world for these eight centuries.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling civil litigation matters, Illinois jury trials and catastrophic injury cases for individuals and families for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Cicero, Berwyn, Oak Park, River Grove, Norridge, Morton Grove, Skokie, Wilmette, Deerfield, Northfield, Glenview, Chicago (Midway, Marquette Park, Ashburn, Garfield Ridge, Austin, Galewood, Belmont Heights, Edgebrook, Edison Park, Sauganash, Humboldt Park), Bensenville and Elmhurst, Ill.
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