The Great Charter

Leave a comment

The Magna Carta, also known as the Great Charter to the Liberties of England, is a document originally issued in Latin in the year 1215. The Great Charter is truly great, because it was the first legal document to establish that leaders did not have arbitrary power, granted under Divine Authority, but instead were subject to the law of the land.

The feudal barons forced King John of England to sign the Magna Carta in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. In a way, it was the world’s very first written Constitution. The charter was a major part of the process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world, an ideal which was eventually transported to the New World. It would inspire the Founding Fathers to draft a new document, the United States Constitution. constitutionfacts.com

The Great Charter or Magna Carta has been on my mind this week. I first learned of it back in grade school and then again in High School in my American Government class. I wonder if it’s still taught in the public school system. I doubt it.

Consider its significance.

For the first time the power of the king was limited by law. Although the power of the king had been challenged prior to the Great Charter the establishment of the Charter was the first successful attempt to get the king to submit to the will of the people as represented by the English feudal barons. The Great Charter protected their rights whereas previously the king could and did usurp rights and would claim that since he had a “divine right” to rule he could rule any which way he chose.

The best the people could hope for was a benevolent ruler as opposed to a power mad despot. What they got was usually something in-between. The Great Charter was the first step toward a government where by a ruler’s authority was limited by the governed.

As it says above the Great Charter was the world’s first written Constitution and it inspired the Founding Fathers of our own country to draft the US Constitution. It’s where we get the idea the even the President is limited by the rule of law and not immune from being prosecuted if he ignores it or breaks it.

In the past week we Americans who are paying attention have learned (or relearned at least one thing).

Our Imperial President will not be thwarted by an election that should curb his imperial ambitions.

The Imperial President has threatened, and we have no reason to doubt him, that he will by executive fiat change the law and push through his version of immigration reform without congressional approval or input.

The fact that he said numerous times on numerous occasions that he could not do what he is about to do illustrates the depth of his hypocrisy and disdain for the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

The fact the Imperial President could have accomplished all his goals in the first two years of his first term when the Imperial President had control of both houses of Congress seems to escape the notice of the compliant media and American people. The observant will ask, why now?

My answer to that question is because he thinks he can get away with it. The Imperial President is first and foremost an ideologue who promised to reshape America and as Dinsesh D’Souza has said in order to reshape something you have to undo something else. That something is the United States Great Charter that we call the Constitution. Since the new Congress will hinder his efforts at reshaping America he seeks to reshape it now; never mind the consequences.

Observers, including some liberals who have not lost their minds have noted that when the Imperial President issues his edict it will lead to a Constitutional crisis not seen in our country for a great many years. Should the Imperial President triumph in the end it will set a precedent for executive action that the progressives may live to regret.

When Speaker of the House Boehner says Congress will fight the Imperial President “tooth and nail” let us hope that he means it and that the power of the Imperial President is curbed and curbed permanently lest government of the people, by the people  and for the people be lost among a tidal wave of executive orders issued by a anti-Constitution wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 

Advertisements

Why Americans Should Thank King George I

1 Comment

There is an interesting article at Townhall.com by Michael Barone titled, Three Hundred Years Later Americans Owe a Debt to King George I.

To most Americans George I would be even more obscure than George III who was King of England during the War for Independence. Yet without a George I there would not have been a George III to turn the world upside down-the song the British Army played as they surrendered at Yorktown.

The Georges were Hanoverian Germans and they secured the British throne through the back door so-to-speak.

As Barone points out the previous monarch was a gal by the name of Queen Anne.

Back in those days government and religion were mixed together in an unsavory soup whereby loyalty to the state was often determined by one’s religion. The union of England, Scotland and Ireland had a rather tumultuous history where religion was a bigger deal than it is now.

Queen Anne was a Protestant, meaning Church of England-Anglican, but her dad King James II was Roman Catholic. James II was driven from the throne in 1688-89 in what was called the Glorious Revolution.

James got into trouble because he appointed fellow Catholics to high positions including the military. James decreed he could suspend Parliament and in particular the law that decreed that military officers had to be members of the Church of England. He also had not called for a Parliament for three years and abolished the colonial legislatures in the American colonies.

Looking back hundreds of years we see the issue through the lens of freedom of religion but at the time there was no such thing and such ideas were in the future.

What really bothered Parliament was the fact that the king believed he could ignore the law and do what he pleased. In other words it was a power struggle between those who made law (Parliament) and the head of state (king) who thought he could ignore it when he chose to do so. In those days the balance of power issues we are familiar with (Congress, President, Supreme Court) were still being worked out and Parliament which had gained the majority vote in the English Civil War was not keen on giving up their new-found power.

Cigarette Card featuring one of Oliver Cromwell's "Ironsides" Heave Cavalry that were instrumental in winning the the war for Parliament over Charles I and the Royalists.

Cigarette Card featuring one of Oliver Cromwell’s “Ironsides” Heavy Cavalry that were instrumental in winning the the war for Parliament over Charles I and the Royalists.

Parliament feared, rightly so, an absolutist type monarchy like that which was in power in France, a country that would eventually have an incredibly bloody revolution that ultimately would result in the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. James II was succeeded by Anne’s sister Mary who was married to William of Orange (both Protestants). William and Mary agreed with Parliament  that monarchs could not simply suspend the law and that’s where the Founding Fathers got the idea the President would have limited power (Remember that the Founding Fathers were all English and they knew their history.) As a footnote William and Mary College in Virginia is named for the famous pair and Thomas Jefferson attended there.

It get s little complicated but stay with me here; it’s important.

Parliament had passed a law in 1701 that barred Catholics and anyone married to a Catholic from being king. Remember, we’re looking back hundreds of years and there is no such thing a state without a state church (a practice that continues today in much of Europe but with far less importance).

The law perpetrated a crisis when Anne died because all her relatives in line for succession were Catholics. Just before Anne died she smelled revolution and fired her pro-Catholic advisers and picked a loyal Protestant who would ensure that succession would go to a Protestant. The Duke of Marlborough (an ancestor of Winston Churchill) would use the military to make sure there was little trouble. There was, but that’s another story.

Eventually the powers that were found a suitable Protestant, a distant cousin of Anne. His name was George Ludwig and a Hanoverian German. He could not speak a word of English.

According to Barone the Hanoverian kings (George I, II and III) were not all that popular and heavily criticized as we begin to see a more obvious freedom of the press and freedom of expression by British citizens. Barone also notes that overall the Hanoverian kings were good for the UK as it enjoyed an economic posterity that rivaled their greatest rival of France.

As for the colonies the George’s practiced a neglect that the colonies rather enjoyed. The colonies tended to rule themselves which they liked and things didn’t come to a head until George III became guilty of over reach but more importantly by refusing to negotiate with those he considered rebels-hence the War of Independence.

Barone does not make the following point but I will.

The US emerged from the War of Independence with strong ideas regarding the balance of power between the various branches of government. The Founders knew what they were doing fearing that an absolutist would once again suspend laws that he or she didn’t like. The Constitution was designed to keep all concerned in their proper place and although it could be messy and time-consuming it has worked pretty well until now.

Now we have a President who uses executive action and statutory neglect to full advantage. He does not enforce laws he does not like and goes around the lawmakers (Congress) every chance he gets. The Senate, one-half of the Congress is complicit in his designs and the other half of Congress (the House of Representatives) is blamed for the executive action run a muck because according to the President “Congress won’t act” yet it cannot because the President’s allies control the Senate.

This may all change in the November elections if both Houses of Congress go conservative and undo much of the damage. If not, we can expect more abuses of power from the Administration and it’s allies in the Senate and in the mainstream press who seem to think an abuse of power will never come back to bite them in the butt.

The US is still rather unique in the way it is set-up. Technically, we are ruled by a document called the Constitution, a document our leaders are supposed to uphold. When our leaders no longer take that seriously what is the Christian to do? The Bible says we are to be loyal to the emperor (1 Pe. 2:13) and every human institution (like our Constitution and civil authority in general). But what if they are in opposition to one another? What if the governors of 26 States uphold the Constitution and the other 24 side with a lawless President. What if Congress remains hopelessly divided and a President, like James II simply decides to do what he pleases? What if?

I do not have all the answers-just the principle that was established so long ago by William and Mary and the English Parliament. We are a nation of laws and the king or President just does not get to do whatever pleases. Limiting the power of the executive branch of government should be a concern to both Democrats and Republicans and the fact that it does appear to concern the Democrats one bit should concern us all.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: