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On the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta, Brooks Reaffirms his Fight Against Tyranny

June 15, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, a document drafted in 1215 which established the principles that led to many of the rights enshrined in our Constitution. 

In 1215, England’s tyrannical King John was facing a potential rebellion by the country’s barons.  After 16 years of enduring his kingship based largely on extortion, violence, excessive taxation, and blackmail, his barons demanded that King John obey the law.  When he refused, the barons captured London and forced John to negotiate.  The result of that negotiation was the Magna Carta—the “Great Charter.”

Congressman Brooks’ statement:

Freedom has developed over the course of many centuries, and the Magna Carta is one of the most significant documents in the history of liberty and law.  It formed the bedrock of the rule of law and laid the basis for our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.  It was essentially the first written constitution—a charter of liberties—in European history, contributing to the rise of representative government which we enjoy today.  It, for the first time, ensured the right to justice and a fair trial.  It embodied the principles of limited government and individual rights.  It set forth the principle of taxation by consent—that the King could not arbitrarily tax his subjects without consent of the people.  It introduced the concept of jury trials, that the King could not be the judge.  Most importantly, in my opinion, it championed the rule of law.  It stated that the laws apply to everyone—even the king!  It was indeed a move away from autocracy toward liberty under the law.

The Magna Carta formed the beginnings of the systems of separation of powers and checks and balances which are so critical to our constitutional republic in America today.  It was written, in part, to keep a check on a tyrannical king.  In the late 1700s, the American colonists were inspired by the Magna Carta and used it as a model for their demands of freedom from the tyrannical British Empire.  Informed by the Magna Carta, our Founders produced two of the greatest documents ever to be written:  the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

It saddens me greatly that on this, the 800th anniversary of a document that formed the basis of our American system of government, some of those very principles set forth in the Magna Carta and later in our Constitution are being willfully undermined by this administration.  The actions against the rule of law by President Obama, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, top officials in the IRS, and others, remind us that to maintain a free Republic, we must remain vigilant in our fight against tyranny.  When the President unilaterally suspends established immigration laws, is that unlike King John’s arbitrary and tyrannical application of law?  When the President unilaterally changed Obamacare, is that unlike King John’s capricious rejection of the rule of law?  When the administration targeted taxpayers based on their conservative political beliefs, is that unlike King John’s use of royal institutions to harass his enemies and barons?  When the administration blatantly ignored a court order to halt the issuance of work authorizations for illegal immigrants, and issued thousands anyway, is that unlike King John’s exemption from the rule of law?

We must never waver in our endeavors to support the ideals of limited government and the rule of law enshrined in the Magna Carta and our Constitution.  As Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power . . . let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

Unlike King John’s subjects in the 13th century, we are blessed to have a Constitution—our greatest weapon against tyranny.  We have the duty to, as Jefferson said, bind this tyrannical administration from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.  We must tirelessly invigilate the American principles of limited government, separation of powers, the rule of law, and checks and balances.  And we must continue to have the courage, like King John’s barons, to stand up against those who turn a blind eye to the rule of law.