Government under the law—responsible power—is a key element of liberty and a vital support of freedom. For those of us, of whatever background and of all backgrounds, who live in the Anglosphere, it is the foundation stone of a long process that contributed greatly to the distinctive strengths of the Anglo-American political systems. The idea, and crucially the practice, that those who make and execute the laws are also subject to them is vital to these strengths and to our history. It is also a legacy that contrasts markedly with the situation in many other states, not least as their governmental practice scarcely matches their constitutional precepts. Indeed, read the constitutions of states like North Korea or Zimbabwe if you want a bad joke.

President Obama downplayed the role of religious freedom, but his claim that Magna Carta was the “inspiration for America’s founding fathers” was sound. Unfortunately, all too...


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