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Paul Jones

Mrs. Quinn
G.A.L.R.E.
November 21, 2010
Chapter 4: Reviewing and Using the Lesson
1. What is the common law of England? Why is it sometimes called “judge-made law”? How did
the common law develop?
Common law is simply the part of English law that is derived from custom and judicial
precedent rather than statutes. It is called “judge-made law” because it is law built on prior
cases in courts. The Royal Courts of Justice were standardized by William the Conquerer.
2. What is meant by the phrase “rights of Englishmen”? How were these rights established?
The Rights of Englishmen are simply the recognized rights of English subjects. The term refers
to a series of documents that were created throughout various stages of English history, such as
the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Right. These were established through centuries of
respect.
3. What is the Magna Carta? How was it created? How did it contribute to the development of
constitutional government?
The Magna Carta is a charter of liberty and political rights obtained from King John of England
by his rebellious barons. The Magna Carta established three concepts essential to a
constitutional government: (1) rule of law, (2) basic rights, and (3) contractual government.
4. One constitutional scholar called the writ of habeas corpus the “greatest guarantee of human
freedom ever devised by man.” Why is this right so fundamental?
Habeas corpus is a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into
court. The reason it is so fundamental is because if a government cannot justify keeping a
person, then they must be released. Thus, government cannot hold a person indefinitely or
arbitrarily.
5. Among the key documents in the struggle for power between king and Parliament were the
Petition of Rights of 1628, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, and the English Bill of Rights of
1689. Explain how and why each of these documents contributed to the development of
constitutional government in England.
The Petition of Right established that Englishmen were guaranteed fundamental rights which
could not be violated by any government. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1697 standardized the writ
of habeas corpus, meaning that not even the Crown could hold an individual without producing
legal papers stating what law they violated. Thus, government could not hold citizens arbitrarily
or indefinitely. The English Bill of Rights of 1698 meant that rule of law was a concrete
principle in English government, that all Englishmen were guaranteed the right to free speech
and debate, and that the people were represented in Parliament, the highest government body.
6. How are the ideas in the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the English Bill of Rights
related to the natural rights philosophy and classical republicanism?
Classical republicanism is built around concepts such as civil society, civic virtue and mixed
government, while natural rights philosophy stresses rights that are considered to be self-
evident and universal. The Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the English Bill of Rights all
guarantee certain unalienable rights that no government can take away, which relates to natural
rights philosophy. Conversely, the English Bill of Rights sets up a constitutionally limited
mixed government where the people elect their representatives, which is more classical
republicanism.
7. What rights and other principles of government in the U.S. Constitution or in your states
constitution can you trace back to the Magna Carta?
In the U.S. Constitution, one can trace the principle the Founders took from the Magna Carta;
they include, but are not limited to, the right of jury trial, protection of private property, limits
on taxation, and religious freedoms.