This transatlantic conversation with scholars at NYU London and NYU Washington, DC, focused on the impact Magna Carta has had as a foundation for law around the world and in the United States.
On June 15, 1215, in a field at Runnymede, King John affixed his seal to Magna Carta. Confronted by 40 rebellious barons, he consented to their demands in order to avert civil war. Just 10 weeks later, Pope Innocent III nullified the agreement, and England plunged into internal war.
Although Magna Carta failed to resolve the conflict between King John and his barons, it was reissued several times after his death.
Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. It is concerned with many practical matters and specific grievances relevant to the feudal system under which they lived. The interests of the common man were hardly apparent in the minds of the men who brokered the agreement. But there are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day:
"No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."
"To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice."
"The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history... It was written in Magna Carta." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941 Inaugural address
During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land."
Dr. Marvin L Astrada completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations at Florida International University, Miami, FL, and a J.D. at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, NJ. His graduate and legal studies and research have focused on U.S. foreign policy, American government, international organization, national security studies, international law, political culture, and Latin America.
Presently, he is a Research Associate at the Federal Judicial Center, Washington, DC. He is responsible for the design and conduct of social scientific, legal, qualitative, and quantitative research projects pertaining to all facets of the administration of justice in the federal judiciary. Previously, he served as Research Scientist with the Applied Research Center at Florida International University, where he was responsible for the FIU-ARC/U.S. Government Strategic Cultures Project. The project focused on developing a standard analytic framework to identify and assess the strategic culture of Latin American countries vis-à-vis U.S. foreign policy, and analyzed the regional impact of Islamic thought and Muslim identity in Latin America. Dr. Astrada has also conducted research on U.S.-China relations, strategic culture and foreign policy, the WTO, international law, political economy, terrorism, and WMD.
Dr. Astrada has taught international relations theory and foreign policy analysis at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University, Tampa, FL., as well as introductory and advanced undergraduate-level classes at Miami Dade College and Florida International University in political science and international relations, with a focus on comparative politics, law, international organization, national/global security, and Latin America. He was also affiliated faculty with FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center. He currently teaches at NYU’s Washington DC campus.
Generally speaking, his research program has focused on identifying, explaining, and understanding the complex interrelationship(s) between: U.S. foreign policy, geopolitics, political culture, and international law and organization. Recent projects have involved redefinition and application of a strategic culture approach to the Americas, and positing a new theoretical framework for conceptualizing and analyzing an emergent society of states in a rapidly evolving world. Dr. Astrada has presented his research at professional conferences, and obtained a $25,000 fellowship to fund research on U.S. foreign policy and global security policy, resulting in the publication of American Power after 9/11 (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan 2010). His most recent co-authored publication, Russia & Latin America: From Nation State to Society of States (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan 2013) analyzes the relationship between complexity, power, security, international organization, and an emergent society of states.
David Carpenter is Professor of Medieval History at King’s, London. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, he held a number of lectureships - at Christ Church, St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, the University of Aberdeen and Queen Mary College, London - before joining King’s in 1988. He has published widely on the social, economic, architectural, military and political history of the period. His books include the Penguin History of Britain volume The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (2003) and the new Penguin Classics edition of Magna Carta (2015). He is currently writing a biography of King Henry II, focussing on the great revolution of 1258. A leading authority on the history of Britain in the central middle ages, he was Principal Investigator of the ‘Henry III Fine Rolls Project’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2005-11), and Co-Investigator on ‘The Paradox of Medieval Scotland’ project (2007-10). He is currently a Co-Investigator on two further AHRC-funded projects, ‘The Breaking of Britain: Cross-Border Society and Scottish Independence 1216-1314’ and ‘The Magna Carta Project’, where he has been particularly involved in finding the copies made of the 1215 charter during the remainder of the 13th Century.
Phillip Drummond studied at Saint John’s College, University of Oxford as an undergraduate and postgraduate student. He held an Open Scholarship in Modern Studies (English and French), won prizes for English at College and University levels, and founded the university’s largest arts society, the 2,000-member New Cinema Club of Oxford. He went on to become one of the pioneers of UK Film and Media Studies in the 1970s whilst teaching at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University) and chairing major initiatives at regional, national and international levels. He joined the Institute of Education, University of London, in 1979 to found the University of London’s first MA degree in Film and Television Studies – and only the country’s second – which he went on to run for nearly two decades. Since 2000 he has been active in US Film, Media and Cultural Studies in London, teaching as an Adjunct for NYUL, the USC Annenberg School, the University of California, and the University of North Carolina and acting as the local Academic Advisor, on behalf of ACCENT International, on the creation of the University of California London Programme. He is also the Director of Academic Conferences London Ltd, a new micro-company which has been responsible since 2011 for pioneering annual international conferences on London, Britain, and global Film and Media under the overall rubric THE LONDON SYMPOSIUM. See www.thelondonfilmandmediaconference.com, www.thelondonconference.com, and www.understandingbritain.com for further information.
Scott Kelly lectures on British Politics and has worked as an adviser to the Coalition Government on training and skills policy. Prior to the 2005 he was a member of the Conservative Party Policy Unit. He received his PhD from the London School of Economics in 2000 and subsequently published his thesis under the title ‘The Myth of Mr Butskell’.
He has been published in academic journals and lectured at both British and American Universities. He is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and co-wrote ‘Towards a Gold Standard for Craft’ (CPS 2007). His most recent publication was ‘Defining Skills Need: The Role of Recognition of Technician Status.’ (Gatsby Foundation 2013). He also advises political parties in Eastern European and Africa on policy development and parliamentary support.
Professor Lerner works in the fields of U.S. and English legal history, civil and criminal procedure, and comparative law. She focuses on the history of U.S. procedure and legal institutions, especially juries. She also examines the differences between current adversarial and nonadversarial legal systems. She regularly speaks to groups of U.S. and non-U.S. judges about comparative procedure and institutions.
She is the author, with John Langbein and Bruce Smith, of the book History of the Common Law: The Development of Anglo-American Legal Institutions (2009). Her recent articles include “The Failure of Originalism in Preserving Constitutional Rights to Civil Jury Trial,” 22 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 811 (2014); “The Rise of Directed Verdict: Jury Power in Civil Cases Before the Federal Rules of 1938,” 81 George Washington Law Review 448 (2013); and “Enlightenment Economics and the Framing of the U.S. Constitution,” 35 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 39 (2012). She is currently working on a book chapter about the influence of Magna Carta on rights to jury trial in the United States.
Professor Lerner received an A.B. summa cum laude in history from Princeton University. She did graduate work as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in English legal history. At Yale Law School, she was Articles Editor of the Yale Law Journal. She served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From 2003 to 2005, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Professor Slapper is Global Professor at New York University, and the author of many major law books, and academic articles. He is a door tenant at 36 Bedford Row, the Chambers of Frances Oldham QC, and a writer on Law for The Times. He is also a columnist for The Times online. Before becoming director of NYU London, Professor Slapper was Head of the Law School at the Open University, and taught a course on Law and Society at NYU London. He is Visiting Professor of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He read Law as an undergraduate and postgraduate at University College London, and gained his doctorate from the London School of Economics.