Friday, April 13, 2007

And Speaking of First Principles

When Nancy Pelosi goes to visit the president next week, she might want to haul along a copy of Prohibitions del Roy 12 Coke Rep. 63 (1608), the notes of Sir Edward Coke on a conference with King James I England

Note, upon Sunday the 10th of November, in this same Term[1607--ed.], the King, upon complaint made to him by Bancroft, the Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning Prohibitions, the King was informed, that when the question was made of what matters the Ecclesiastical Judges have Cognizance, … the King himself may decide it in his Royall person; and that the Judges are but the delegates of the King, and that the King may take what Causes he shall please to determine, from the determination of the Judges, and may determine them himself. And the Archbishop said, that this was clear in Divinity, that such Authority belongs to the King by the Word of God in the Scripture. To which it was answered by me, in the presence, and with the clear consent of all the Judges of England, and Barons of the Exchequer, that the King in his own person cannot adjudge any case, either criminall, as Treason, Felony, &c. or betwixt party and party, concerning his Inheritance, Chattels, or Goods, &c. but this ought to be determined and adjudged in some Court of Justice, according to the Law and Custom of England …

Then the King said, that he thought the Law was founded upon reason, and that he and others had reason, as well as the Judges: To which it was answered by me, that true it was, that God had endowed his Majesty with excellent Science, and great endowments of nature; but his Majesty was not learned in the Lawes of his Realm of England, and causes which concern the life, or inheritance, or goods, or fortunes of his Subjects; … And that the Law was the Golden metwand and measure to try the Causes of the subjects; and which protected his Majesty in safety and peace: With which the King was greatly offended, and said, that then he should be under the Law, which was Treason to affirm, as he said; To which I said, that Bracton saith, Quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege.

H/T Carlton for the reference. I am still looking for the part where we are told the King got so mad he "fell down on all fower."

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