The Law Is What It Is
The Law is what it is–a majestic edifice, sheltering all of us, each stone of which rests on another.
John Galsworthy, 1910.
The Bill of Rights 1689 and Magna Carta are important elements of our constitution. Magna Carta is Primary legislation and has the same status as any other legislation and is not immune from repeal or amendment. The same applies to the Bill of Rights which was an ordinary Act of Parliament passed in the ordinary way.
The Bill of Rights 1689
The document that follows is the text of the Bill of Rights.
An act for declaring the rights and liberties of the subject and settling the succession of the crown.
Whereas the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, assembled at Westminster, lawfully, fully, and freely representing all the estates of the people of this realm, did upon the thirteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty eight [1688/9] present unto their Majesties then called and known by the names and stile of William and Mary, prince and princess of Orange, being present in their proper persons, a certain declaration in writing, made by the said lords and commons, in the words following: viz.
Whereas the late King James The Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, judges, and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom.
|1||By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws, and the execution of laws, without consent of parliament.|
|2||By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates, for humbly petitioning to be excused concurring to the said assumed power.|
|3||By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal for erecting a court called, The court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes.|
|4||By levying money for and to the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, for other time, and in other manner, than the same was granted by parliament.|
|5||By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace, without consent of parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law.|
|6||By causing several good subjects, being protestants, to be disarmed, at the same time when papists were both armed and employed, contrary to law.|
|7||By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in parliament.|
|8||By prosecutions in the court of King’s bench, for matters and causes cognizable only in parliament; and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses.|
|9||And whereas of late years, partial, corrupt, and unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries in trials and particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason, which were not freeholders.|
|10||And excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects.|
|11||And excessive fines have been imposed; and illegal and cruel punishments inflicted.|
|12||And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures, before any conviction or judgment against the persons, upon whom the same were to be levied.|
That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.