The Magna Carta is a powerful document, although not many people have read it. It c contains a number of provisions that are reflected in the US Constitution.
Way back in 1215, a group of English nobles gathered in the fields near Runnymede and demanded certain rights from their monarch, King John. (yes, the brother of Richard Lionheart and the villain of Robin Hood folklore)
Since King Johgn needed the support of these nobles (politics, you know) he agreed to their demands, and the Magna Carta (“the Great Charter”) was signed.
Following are some provisions of the Magna Carta and the corresponding concept in the Constitution. Do you see any resemblance? (If so or not, please comment!)
MC Paragraph 20: “For a trivial offense, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offense.”
Constitution, Eighth Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required … nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
MC Paragraph 34: “The writ … shall not in the future be issued … if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord’s court.”
Constitution, Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial … [in] the state or district wherein the crime shall have been committed which district shall have been ascertained by law …”
MC Paragraph 38: In the future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth thereof.”
Constitution, Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be held to answer for a … crime … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be witness against himself…”
MC Paragraph 39: “No freeman shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions….or deprived of his standing in any other way except by the lawful judgment of his equals …”
Constitution, Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury …”
Constitution, Eighth Amendment: “In suits at common law … the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…”
MC Paragraph 52: “To any man who we have deprived … of lands, castles, liberties or rights without the lawful judgments of his equals, we will at once restore these.”
Constitution, Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a … trial by an impartial jury…”
Today, a gold copy of the Magna Carta sits in the U.S. Capitol crypt as a symbol of its importance to American history.