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13 February 2018


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The United Kingdom has some very important written constitutional statutes which an unidentified blogger who does 'jottings on the British Constitution' in his The Cake of Custom blog thinks must surely include, though these would by no means be all:

Magna Carta
Bill of Rights 1689
Act of Settlement 1700
Act of Union 1707
European Communities Act of 1972
Human Rights Act 1998
Government of Wales Acts 1998 and 2006
Scotland Act 1998

He also mentions that which you can read for yourself at the very beginning of Blackstone's Commentaries. (You can Google it.) In the section on "the absolute rights of every Englishman" which gets to the point directly, Blackstone mentions the thirty-two corroborating statutes of the common law which reinforce Magna Carta, as reckoned by Sir Edward Coke.

It seems to me that there is an issue in Britain now about guaranteed formal constitutional rights of individuals which is (or was) made more complicated by the question of powers surrendered by Parliament to the European Community. What happens when British laws, which are Parliament's prerogative to make and unmake, clash with European Union laws? If there is such a conflict, would not the British law be invalidated in an 'implied repeal?'

A case called Thoburn v Sunderland City Council involves metrics v imperial measures. When Britain moved to metrics there was an effort to phase out the pound in favor of the kilogram. Did that mean that a Chinese Tryad's heroin weighing apparatus, brought in from Tibet, would be illegal if it weighed in Imperial Measures, having been constructed in 1908, and actually a great work of art, but one seriously off in relation to modern metric weights and measures...

Just kidding. Actually, it was a greengrocer and a fishmonger scales at Camelford market in Cornwall, where they stick to the old ways et. Besides, I can't figure out the metric system, myself, so I guess the defendants thought it was too late, as I did, and just gave up.

Now the point here is that whatever they decided--and this kind of thing in my view led to Brexit-- Lord Justice Laws in his decision upon appeal decided that there exists a class of statutes which are "constitutional statutes" which are not subject to repeal by other Acts of Parliament.

Lord Justice Laws has continued to speak and write on this view that there are written statutes in British constitutional law that --I am speculating here--have a good deal of equivalence with the American Bill of Rights. Brexit could change things on this, I guess.

Also, the parliamentary Joint Committee on the draft Civil Contingencies Bill noted in November 2003 that British constitutional law was included in some 21 statutes they listed. I will spare you the list.

There are numbers I carry around with me in my head, such as 1066, and 1492, and 1619, which was the 'red letter year'(I think) in Virginia history. At a time when textbooks were monochrome, my textbook on Virginia History in the lower school had a little bright red number. I thought it was cool. That being the year that the first black Africans were brought to Virginia, I agree with the text, though I suppose it's racist or something. Whatever. But I have come to think that the year 1660 is far more important than I ever realized, and one way it is important is that in order to return to England as King, Charles II had to surrender on point after point to Parliamentary rule and the common law.

The British also have got it in writing.

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