Magna Carta and the Evolution of Anglo-American Law – 6716

Fall 2020

This seminar will examine the origins of Magna Carta in historical context, and study its influence and legacy in English and American law.  The seminar will cover the underpinnings of Magna Carta and analyze the contents of the “Great Charter,” before studying its status as “fundamental” statutory law in early modern England, the role it played in conflicts between monarchy and Parliament, and its formative influence on documents like the English Bill of Rights.  We will proceed to analyze the significance of Magna Carta in colonial and Revolutionary America, particularly in early state constitutions, the US Constitution and the development of federalism.  Students will study English and American case law relevant to Magna Carta, and work with key historical sources in original published form.  A unique aspect of the course will be the integration of material from the Law Library’s Arthur C. Pulling Rare Books Collection.