Douglas Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer s Bill of Rights, in 2012 filed an objection to Amendment 64. (Denver Post file)
Tradition accepts June 15, 1215, as the start of limited government in Anglo-American law. Magna Carta (“the great charter’) was signed under duress by King John. John was the brother and successor to Richard the Lion Heart, whose loyal subjects included that tax rebel, Robin Hood. King John was known for his predatory and avaricious taxation.
Monarchs proclaimed the divine right of kings, asserting their absolute power came directly from God. English barons rejected King John’s tax tyrannies and other autocratic acts. Magna Carta ordained that even a king must honor the law. He could no longer summarily jail or execute any one without due process of law. Taxes would be limited; some would require baronial consent. A council of 25 barons could restrain the king’s illegal actions by seizing his lands and castles until he obeyed the law.
Magna Carta has a turbulent legacy. Over later centuries, it was rejected, affirmed, and revised. It has survived to be idealized as the first formal adoption of the Rule of Law.
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