ABA celebrates 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

Accompanied by a host of dignitaries, including Princess Anne and United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the American Bar Association on Monday culminated a yearlong celebration of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta with the rededication of its ABA Memorial at Runnymede, England.

ABA President William C. Hubbard, who led the rededication ceremony at the memorial erected to the legacy of the "Great Charter" and the principles it represents, highlighted the contributions of Magna Carta to modern democracies and human rights.

"The barons and King John could scarcely have imagined when they stood in this meadow 800 years ago today that the words to which they agreed would launch the progression of the rule of law," Hubbard said. "In this field were born precepts that made possible the United States Constitution, the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the framework of justice in America, the United Kingdom, and much of the world."

In 1957, the American Bar Association erected the memorial to Magna Carta at Runnymede to honor this historic document, which continues to shape the rule of law throughout the world

"We return to Runnymede today because the principles of Magna Carta define, and must continue to define, who we are and who we must be if we are to have justice and if we are to have peace in our world," Hubbard said.

In her remarks, Princess Anne thanked the ABA for honoring the historic site of the sealing of Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, by King John and for honoring the liberties that sprang forth from the document.

"The values gleaned from Magna Carta provide us with one of our most basic doctrines: That no person is above the law,'' she said. "It is imperative that we convey the principles of Magna Carta to all people. It is essential that we ensure that the rule of law remains our foundation for the future. These values must be instilled in the next generation."

Attorney General Lynch said Americans today are driven by the same devotion to the rule of law whose seeds took root in the field at Runnymede 800 years ago.

"Today, we not only pay tribute to the source of our legal doctrine we reaffirm our devotion to its values and recommit ourselves to the service of its most treasured ideals," Lynch said. "As we go forward, I am proud, I am honored and I am humbled to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you in our shared pursuit of a more just world."

Other dignitaries attending the rededication ceremony included Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond: and Matthew Barzun, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Published: Thu, Jun 18, 2015