January 4, 2012

THE ENTIRE REPUBLIC DERIVES FROM THE ENGLISH:

Eight hundred years later, an inspiration: New bills would cite Magna Carta (Karen Langley and Matthew Spolar, December 24, 2011, Concord Monitor)

As in other lines of work, lunchtime discussions among lawmakers at the State House often spur ideas. Sometimes those ideas become bills. And sometimes those bills seemed less strange over lunch.

House Bill 1580 is the product of such a brainstorming session this summer between three freshman House Republicans: Bob Kingsbury of Laconia, Tim Twombly of Nashua and Lucien Vita of Middleton. The eyebrow-raiser, set to be introduced when the Legislature reconvenes next month, requires legislation to find its origin in an English document crafted in 1215.

"All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived," is the bill's one sentence.

The Magna Carta, while famed as the first major declaration of rights under English monarchy, is a bit outdated in its actual prose. The overarching idea of personal freedoms and liberties served as a benchmark for framers of the American Constitution, but most of the feudal barons' 63 demands of King John of England dealt with the tedium of the day. [...]

[K]ingsbury said the "primary motivation" for the bill was to honor the Magna Carta's upcoming 800-year anniversary in 2015. Citing quotes from the document will bring its historical importance to the public's attention, he said.

Vita admitted he needs to "bone up" on the content of the charter, but said "it's a document that still functions." He views the bill as similar to efforts in Congress requiring all legislation to cite constitutional authority.

"This is a little bit older than the Constitution, but the same thought is there," he said.

Asked about any legal hang-ups in requiring New Hampshire bills to derive their authority from an English charter, Kingsbury said "that's an interesting thought."

"Everything has an analog, everything has an origin, and this is part of the origin of what we have in our country," he said.

The past isn't that long ago here.

Posted by at January 4, 2012 9:34 PM
  

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