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Magna Carta and Wingnut Legislation


Three New Hampshire Republicans have proposed an, um, interesting bill:

New Hampshire Republicans are taking textual originalism to a whole new level: three lawmakers have proposed a bill that requires that all legislation find its origin not in the U.S. constitution, but an English document crafted in 1215.

The bill reads:

“All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived,”

Taking a look at the Magna Carta itself
, we can find any number of ways Republicans can marshal it for craziness. For instance,

Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be’ made known to the heir’s next-of-kin.

Looks like some anti-miscegenation legislation could be in the future!

Or this:

If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

Time to reserve the banking industry for good New Hampshire Anglo-Saxon stock if you ask me!

And finally,

Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.

Given the well-established fact that corporations are our new aristocracy, it’s clear that we the commoners are banned from attacking them in any way.

It’s so fun, you can do it yourself. It’s not like you are going to come up with potential laws more crazy than Republicans will themselves. And is there any question that Rick Santorum will support this?

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  • Amanda in the South Bay

    (1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church’s elections – a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it – and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

    I don’t think the Protestant Fundies who make up the nutter wing of hte GOP really thought this one through.

    This is literally, so very clearly and obviously un-American, but my irony meter has long since been burnt out by the GOP.

    • Halloween Jack

      You should send that to Bishop Gene Robinson, seriously.

  • efgoldman

    Wonder where all those Whackaloid Wingnutty Congresspersons come from?
    Almost exclusively out of the state legislatures.

  • Which Magna Carta, tho? Runnymede of 1215, which John never really obeyed anyway, in terms of Clause 61? The Chester Carta? The Great Charter of 1216 (the one removing the noxious Clause 61)? 13th Century rewrites (the Great Charters of 1225/1297)? The 1423 Reconfirmation by Henry? The 1100 Charters of Liberties?

    • c u n d gulag

      Oh, MAGNA Carta!

      Boy, do I have egg on my face!

      I thought this was a baseball post about how great is Gary Carta?

      Never mind….

      • I had to do a double take too. I thought they said “Magner’s Carton,” which I’d be all “two thumbs up in a military flyover formation” about.

        • Wow! Yeah. I thought it was about Magnus th’ Garda, a famous Irish police constable.

          But, Magna Carta, yeah; that’s okay too. Just remember: Every time the Rights Of Our Elders and Betters are abridged in favor of peasant scum like ourselves, the Baby Jesus cries.

      • ckb

        I always though “Magna Carta” was that Italian fondue thing with the garlic and anchovies…

  • ploeg
    • Stag Party Palin

      No way dude. No capital punishment = Soshalizm!

      • Fats Durston

        Right, capital punishment. Then how about the Code of the Neselim?

        If a man rape a woman in the mountain, it is the man’s wrong, he shall die. But if he rape her in the house, it is the woman’s fault, the woman shall die. If the husband find them and then kill them, there is no punishing the husband.

        • rea

          “No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.” Magna Carta

  • mds

    Given that most of the modern GOP wants to take us back to the days before the Magna Carta, I consider this progress of a sort.

    • Gus diZerega


  • dave

    Let’s get back before the Norman Yoke! All legislators should have to demonstrate proficiency in fending off pagan hordes, and burning cakes…

    • John Boehner would have to switch to blue tan-in-a-can!

      • Bill Murray

        but he would like to go all wicker man on the legislative dems

      • Spud

        I think Congress just wants to get in on a little droit du seigneur action. Think of the public funds and page man-hours saved in not procuring hookers for these guys.


        • Bill Murray

          I like to exercise my droit de seigneur. I believe that’s a big dog sort of like a Great Dane. The worlds need more Nobby Nobbs types.

          • I like to exercise my droit de seigneur. I believe that’s a big dog sort of like a Great Dane.

            Everything’s bigger on the internet.

            You oughta see my Prima Nocte.

            • Bill Murray

              that might make us married in some states and sinnin’ agin the Lord in others

              • Just the way the Founders intended.

  • I’d bet the fastest way to get them to change their minds is to point out that a “direct quote” would be in Latin.

    • Hey, a full-employment-in-perpetuity program for Latinists, and within a (longish) commute.

      Sign me up.

      • Damn Latinos, taking good Amurican jobs!

    • mds

      a “direct quote” would be in Latin.

      A lie! God wrote the Magna Carta in English, just like the Bible.

      • Malaclypse

        Unless Romney gets the nod, in which case God will have written everything in Reformed Egyptian, which can be easily translated by sticking one’s face in a stovepipe hat.

        • Hogan

          I spit on your clay and stone tablets. Ours are made of gold.

          • Glenn

            If only we could find them.

            • Some Reformed Egyptian probably has them for safe keeping

          • Big deal! You stole the guest register from the front desk of the Whore of Babylon Hilton!

      • Except, you know, the title?

    • LKS

      Also point out that the first language of most of the barons was French.

  • If we’re going to “look back” to older documents to justify new laws, why not go to first principles and invoke Hammurabi?

    • Lee

      Don’t give them any ideas. Please, they will take you seriously.

      • LKS

        They probably think Hammurabi is an Arab name. So that will never fly.

    • Malaclypse

      Hammurabi is the wrong ancient lawgiver. They will choose Moses. Think what the ban on artificial fibers will do to arrest the decline in the American textile industry! Who says Republicans don’t have any jobs plan?

      • rea

        Actually, there is an organized group that thinks this way, and they have close ties with . . . Ron Paul. Google the names “Gary North” and of course, “Rushdoony”

        • Bill Murray

          Michele Bachmann is in their too. They like to get stoned — well they like to stone other people. That’s their preferred death penalty

        • Malaclypse

          Yea, I knew that I was not joking, but forgot about Poe’s Law.

      • I’m betting the second someone like Gary Bauer discovers what Hammurabi said, he’d forsake Christianity in a heartbeat and worship Zul

        • Malaclypse

          The Old Ways are best…

  • Bill Murray

    I think they need to include the Charter of the Forest. As a free man I want my rights of pannage, estover, agistment, and turbary.

    • Hogan

      They can have my kiddle on the Schuylkill when they pry it out of my cold, dead, fishy hands.

      • Malaclypse

        They can have my kiddle on the Schuylkill when they pry it out of my cold, dead, fishy hands.

        Unless that river has gotten a lot cleaner over the last 20 years, coming in contact with it is indeed likely to lead to cold dead hands.

    • I missed that last one. Could you repeat?

      • Bill Murray

        you must show me which clause of the Magna Carta this request relates to

        • And so now we see the violence inherent in the system

          • Malaclypse

            Four years from now, wingnuts will almost certainly be claiming that strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is a perfectly good basis for a system of government. Bookmark it!

            • mds

              Make it Bowie knives instead of swords, and Sarah Palin is on it.

              • Malaclypse

                Now that is what I call a farcical aquatic ceremony.

                • The huge pantomime Governor is locked in a life or death shtruggle for survival with Modred.

            • Unless of course, she’s black. Or has a bit butt.

              • Bill Murray

                I’ve bit a butt or two back in the day, but only after being requested to perform such an act by the butt owner

                • I like bit butts, I cannot lie.

                  Pardon any typos as I undergo finger renovation.

                • mds

                  Pardon any typos as I undergo finger renovation.

                  Oh, is that what the young people are calling it nowadays?

            • H-Bob

              in 2000, supreme executive power was awarded through a farcical judicial ceremony !

        • Warren Terra

          IIRC, at around the same time as the “Great Charter” of individual (and lordly) rights, there was another charter (ever wonder why it’s the “Great Charter”, not “The Runnymede Charter” or some such?). This other Charter was principally about the right to make use of common lands, and for a very long time it was considered the more important charter, affecting a lot more peoples’ lives.

          See more here, for one. I’m pretty sure the original radio broadcast of that is what I’m remembering. The whole series is generally quite good, except when it gets too close to Thatcherite questions and Portillo skews it to sanctify the misbegotten beliefs he shares with her.

  • TN

    That’s Republicans for you, always wanting to subjugate the American way of life to European ideas.

  • Murc

    As I said a few days ago; New Hampshire is hiding a POWERFUL brand of crazy up in those mountains. People just don’t know.

    • Hogan

      If you read the article, you see the three legislators walking this back so hard they’re tripping over each other. I don’t think it was crazy so much as bizarrely naive and ill-informed, even the the standards of the median state legislator. Not ready for prime time? They’re not ready for public access.

    • BigHank53

      Given that New Hampshire has a 435-seat legislature (they’re not paid) and only just over a million inhabitants, one can find their way in with a thousand votes or so.

      I’m only surprised these goofballs were able to keep it together long enough to write a bill and submit it. It’s not going anywhere, and two out of these three clowns will be voted out for embarrassing their constituency.

      Keep an eye on the one who stays in, though.

      • Hogan

        New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Ray Buckley said he was “mostly speechless” when he heard about the bill. “I appreciate all the hard work the Republican legislators are putting into the effort to make them look like extremists,” he said. “Saves us the trouble.”

      • I had a classmate, a poli-sci major in college run for, and serve in, the New Hampshire lower House as a project.

        She won, and served a full term, and they only would give her 9 credit hours for it. The dean’s argument: “Hey, it’s the New Hampshire House. We originally thought ‘six hours’.”

      • LeeEsq

        You get what you pay for and when you don’t pay legislatures, you get bad laws.

  • wengler

    This special brand of stupid deserves its own category.

  • Appealing to the wisdom of the elders can be problematic even if you don’t go all the way back to the Magna Carta. When catholic conservatives like Santorum insist that we revert to the values of the founding fathers, they never seem to mention that those gentlemen were overwhelmingly hostile to the Whore of Babylon and her minions.

  • Njorl

    I wonder if they approve of this:

    42. It shall be lawful in future for anyone (excepting always those imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the kingdom, and natives of any country at war with us, and merchants, who shall be treated as if above provided) to leave our kingdom and to return, safe and secure by land and water, except for a short period in time of war, on grounds of public policy- reserving always the allegiance due to us.

    Open borders except for people from countries with whom we are at war.

  • Gus diZerega

    Seems to me they violated their oaths of office to uphold the constitution of a republic. I wonder how the Magna Carta dealt with people who violated their oaths of office and acted disloyally to the lawful powers of the land?

  • somethingblue

    Why not just go back to Draco? Simpler all around.

    • Njorl

      One of the guys is “Bob Kingsbury of Laconia”, so you’ve got the wrong Greek city state there. You want Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver.

      I can just picture Boehner in a black speedo and cape, “Republicans, prepare for glory!”

      • rea

        I can definitely see Boehner & his crew slaughtering uppity Helots.

      • Boehner in a black speedo and cape

        My good man, there are children present!

      • I was just having to explain to a class reading some Herodotus that Xerxes wasn’t actually a 7-foot tall black leather fetishist.

        • Black referring to ‘fetishist’, not to the leather.

          Xerxes in 300 is a bit more flamboyant than that.

    • Spud

      I think the streamlined law of Bartertown would work best for these guys

      “Two men enter one man leaves”
      “Bust a deal, face the wheel.”

      Lawyers can be admitted to the state in seconds.

  • Mardam

    I may be wrong, but wasn’t the Republican mantra a couple of years ago that no foreign based law could be used to make US law?

    Am I crazy?

    • rea

      England isn’t any more foriegn than Canada is! Rick Perry told me so.

      • Bill Murray

        It’s less foreign than Hawaii, I believe

  • flint

    Aren’t these the same people who DESPISE yurup ?????
    Except when it feeds their own personal purposes.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    • Njorl

      I think that “Anglo-American” or “English speaking world” will be used like Judeo-Christian” when it suits their purpose.

      • Warren Terra

        A pretty good parallel, but it does fall down a bit, in that you see actual Brits who use the term “Anglo-American”, while the term “Judeo-Christian” is almost entirely the province of people who thing Jews don’t have any actual significance and are just there to add lineage and antiquity to the Truth.

        • Vance Maverick

          Lineage, antiquity, and deniability against accusations of bigotry.

        • LeeEsq

          I always saw the term Judeo-Christian as an inclusive-exclusive phase. It theoretically includes Jews while excluding them at the same time because there is practically nothing Jewish in Judeo-Christian.

        • Lurker

          Yep. The term is used also in the European continent. I think there are three meanings for it:

          1) things relating to the English language and the common literate culture using that language
          2) things relating to Common Law
          3) things relating to the British or American imperialism.

          So, while you might very correctly speak about “Anglo-American”, when discussing language education, it might also be used pejoratively or negatively. The third meaning was, however, widely used by many British writers in a positive sense. For example, Churchill called for the continuation of British Empire as the Pax Americana, referring to the common Anglo-American heritage of both countries.

    • Jay in Oregon

      You can replace Europe/”yurup” with just about anything — Jews, “activist judges,” “big gubmint” — and it will still be true.

    • pete

      England is not IN Yurup. Ask any member of the National Front.

      • firefall

        or the French

        • redrob64

          Fog covers English Channel. Europe isolated.

  • DrDick

    Further proof of my contention that the modern GOP wants to turn the clock back, not merely to the 19th century, but all the way back to the Middle Ages.

    • Lee

      Are Ren Faire attendants a viable political constiuentcy?

      • They tend not to vote until the acne clears up, tho.

  • Ion

    I had to come out of lurkerdom for this one. Good ol’ New Hampshire is my home state, and let me tell you, LGM, that bill is abnormal for the NH House only in degree, not kind. They have the fourth-largest legislature in the world for a state of a million people, which means anyone shameless enough can get a seat for a least a term. The legislature is currently dominated by the Tea Party, and they are pumping out some high-quality reactionary bullshit.

    Aside from the usual chipping away at Roe and trying to eject evolution and general sanity from public schools, one of the best ones this session is an attempt to repeal the judicial branch. (72-a establishes the supreme and superior courts as being vested with the judicial power of the state.) Kingsbury, one of the Magna Carta sponsors, is an endless font of terrible bills. Search him from the Sponsor dropdown here and be amazed.

    Gorgeous state, but you couldn’t pay me to move back.

    • Wow. It’s like seeing the ghost of Mad Meldrim Thompson stalking the halls of Concord…

      • Ion

        He had a certain steely dignity the current clown car occupants lack. Also, he’s the one who first put Souter on the bench, which would entirely disqualify him in the eyes of the modern Republican party.

  • HP

    I say, go for it. I just figured out that, genetically speaking, there’s not a sheriff or sheriff’s deputy alive today in the whole world who can’t be shown to be descended from Gerard d’Athee. (And come to think of it, that explains a lot about sheriffs.)

  • Art Judd

    larouchepac dot com —- can save you time.

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