English Roots of Civil Liberties
DOI link for English Roots of Civil Liberties
English Roots of Civil Liberties book
From the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 until the colonies declared their independence in 1776, developments in England shaped both state and national governments in the United States. Throughout the sixteenth century, English judges repeatedly ruled that although monarchs had the power to imprison people, courts had the right to review those cases and determine whether the imprisonment was lawful. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 strengthened the law's provisions by ensuring that prisoners could receive hearings when courts were in recess; it also protected jurors from imprisonment if the courts were dissatisfied with the verdict. Provisions against cruel and unusual punishments first appeared in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, though the number of capital crimes expanded in the eighteenth century. The idea that some sort of council or legislature must approve taxes also has its origins in Magna Carta.