<< Home

Magna Carta

2015 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture: The Magna Carta, Due Process, and Administrative Power

Magna Carta is important, argued Philip Hamburger of Columbia Law School recently at AEI, not so much for what it says, but for what it reveals about the enduring danger of absolute power and the repeated constitutional responses in common law countries of its substitute, rule under law. Not only does Magna Carta allow us to trace the ebb and flow of absolute power and the law, but it also allows a proper understanding of due process of law.

Where today due process is most often thought of as a procedural protection for happenings in court, Hamburger invoked Magna Carta to show that due process is meant to also apply to outside the court, specifically administrative tribunals within administrative agencies. Tracing the development of due process from Magna Carta’s Article 39 through a series of 14th century statutes to the Fifth Amendment in the US Constitution, Hamburger argued that the Constitution’s due process clause was designed primarily to be an obstacle to administrative or extralegal adjudication. The prevalence of administrative power today, he concluded, denotes a practical evasion of due process and an evisceration of the entire concept, and that poses the gravest threat to the Bill of Rights.

Read More...

2015 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture: The Magna Carta, Due Process, and Administrative Power

Is the Magna Carta still relevant? By the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell was already allegedly declaring, “Magna Carta, Magna Farta.” Numerous legal commentators today remain nearly as skeptical of its significance. Although no constitutional document is inherently timeless, Magna Carta stands as a reminder that some constitutional dangers do endure.

Please join us for the fourth annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture on Thursday, September 17, as Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, considers recurring threats to the due process of law from extralegal power — what once was called prerogative power and today is called administrative power.

Read More...
AEI