Friday, April 6, 2012

The Constitution Essay

The Constitution Essay

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government…” – this quote of Patrick Henry, the outstanding American lawyer and orator, is probably the most demonstrative expression about constitution. Indeed, the constitution presents a supreme law of any country that describes and organizes functions of government. One of the first laws that preceded the appearance of modern constitution and shaped its base to great extent was Magna Carta. Being released in 1215 in England, this historical document presented the first attempt in the world to limit the power of King. Oftentimes called Magna Carta Liberatum (Great Charter of Freedoms) this paper contained first laws concerning freedoms of country inhabitants. The Great Charter had a sound impact to the development of constitutional law in general, influencing and shaping the content of many contemporary constitutions.

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Several clauses of Magna Carta (especially the revised version of 1297) that still have force in England have much in common with modern Constitution of the United States of America. For example, the Clause I of the Great Charter of 1297 proclaims the freedom of English Church – it “…guarantees the inviolable Rights and Liberties…” to sanctify the church from the country. This clause was a predecessor of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the USA that opens the Bill of Rights. The article declares, among other essential freedoms (freedoms of press, speech, etc.), the freedom of religion, prohibiting the official establishment of any religion. From this amendment the principle of separation of church and state evolved, proclaiming the freedom of church, just like Clause I of Magna Carta did.

Another example of correlation between the Great Charter and modern U.S. Constitution refers to the freedom of citizens and the right to legal process. The Clause XXIX of Magna Carta states that “NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties…” but by the Law. There are many articles in the Constitution of USA that correspond to this clause, for example the Fourth Amendment that prohibits arrests and seizures of property unless the probable cause of committed crime is present. The Thirteenth Amendment also correlates with Clause XXIX, prohibiting slavery and obligating the Congress to enforce slavery elimination.

Great Charter had a significant effect on development of modern Constitution of USA, which only proves that fundamental law does not change. “I prefer a man who will burn the flag and then wrap himself in the Constitution to a man who will burn the Constitution and then wrap himself in the flag,” - these words of Craig Washington illustrate this idea perfectly.
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