The Magna Carta document limited the power of the English throne. It was enacted by King John of England in 1215. While the Magna Carta codified the rights of only a specific group of people (the nobility of England), its creation is believed to be a pivotal moment in the history of English Common law and in the development of Western democracy and human rights.
In the modern world
In January 2012, Republicans in the New Hampshire state legislature proposed a bill mandating that certain legislation reference the Magna Carta. The bill was roundly mocked and ultimately failed.
The Magna Carta, and especially article 61, is interpreted creatively by various tax protestors and other people who believe it entitles them to "lawful rebellion", a process which allows them to ignore all laws and not pay taxes (but still enjoy the public services that taxes pay for). The website Direct Democracy includes instructions as to how you can inform Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of your invocation of article 61, which will result in you not having to pay tax. Don't try this at home. Especially since article 61 lasted a month before it was annulled by a Papal Bull.
Boxer Oliver "The Ringmaster" Pinnock was jailed for 25 days in 2017 after arguing that article 61 implied that the council could not impose tax without a contractual agreement. The council differed and pointed to legislation giving it the power to levy taxes.
In 2010 someone called Graeme MacLean submitted a freedom of information request to the British government saying: "Can you confirm that Article 61 of The Magna Carta Of 1297 is still in force and that as such it is still legal to enter into lawful rebellion against parliament." The government declined to confirm this. The 1297 version only has 37 articles.
- http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2011033/pg1 Even Godlike Productions is unimpressed
- "New Hampshire GOP Bill Mandates that Laws find their Origin in 1215 English Magna Carta", Think Progress
- "America Could Use Some More Magna Carta, Say New Hampshire Lawmakers", New york Magazine
- "New Hampshire GOP Debates: Moderate Extremes", Colbert Nation
- Magna Carta bill fails to clear committee, Concord Monitor
- Lawful Rebellion is a myth, wonkosworld.co.uk, Oct 24, 2015
- Direct Democracy and Tax [the Magna Carta and lawful rebellion], Direct Democracy
- Boxer jailed after trying to use the Magna Carta to avoid council tax, Daily Express, May 8, 2017
- Request: Right to Lawful rebellion, WhatDoTheyKnow.com