by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
The 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta Is Around the Corner
And to kick off the celebrations, over at the Liberty and Law blog Justin Lyons has posted an interesting discussion of Winston Churchill’s views on the Great Charter and its role in British and American history. Lyons illustrates his discussion with many stirring quotations from Churchill’s books and speeches, including these excerpts from the famous "Iron Curtain" speech that the old warrior delivered at Fulton, Missouri in 1946:
But we must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
All this means that the people of any country have the right, and should have the power by constitutional action, by free unfettered elections, with secret ballot, to choose or change the character or form of government under which they dwell; that freedom of speech and thought should reign; that courts of justice, independent of the executive, unbiased by any party, should administer laws which have received the broad assent of large majorities or are consecrated by time and custom. Here are the title deeds of freedom which should lie in every cottage home. Here is the message of the British and American peoples to mankind.
I hope we’ll see a lot more in the way of celebratory statements and events between now and the 15th of June.
Good News about Civil Asset Forfeiture, Continued
Speaking of "freedom and the rights of man," I’m happy to report that Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico has signed the asset forfeiture reform bill that I described in my newsletter two weeks ago. Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, praised the new law:
With this law, New Mexico leads the nation in protecting the property rights of innocent Americans. Convicted criminals will still see the fruits of their crime confiscated by the state, but innocent New Mexicans can now rest easy knowing that their property will never be seized by police without proper due process.
And so did Lee McGrath, Legislative Counsel for the Institute of Justice:
New Mexico has shown that ending policing for profit is a true bipartisan issue with broad public support. America is ready to end civil asset forfeiture, a practice which is not in line with our values or constitution. This law shows that we can be tough on crime without stripping property away from innocent Americans.
Churchill would be pleased!
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