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    09.28.15 Law School Celebrates Magna Carta and Constitution Day
    Magna Carta Exhibit

    The Law School marked the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Constitution Day in the United States on Sept. 17 with a daylong program, “From Runnymede to Philadelphia to Cyberspace: The Enduring Legacy of Magna Carta.” The day featured presentations and discussions with an international roster of renowned authors, historians, artists, librarians, archivists, and scholars, including faculty from the Law School.   

    The program was held in conjunction with the international traveling exhibit, “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015,” which the Law School hosted on campus and at Borough Hall from Sept. 14-28. The exhibit was presented by the American Bar Association in partnership with the Library of Congress and its Law Library.

    “Magna Carta, as it was repeatedly revised and interpreted over the centuries, was integral to the creation of the American system of laws and still informs our nation’s commitment to securing the rights and liberties of all,” said Dean Nicholas W. Allard. “Brooklyn is known as the ‘borough of immigrants’ and the ‘borough of churches,’ and has long been a gateway to the American Dream for people of all backgrounds. So it was particularly fitting to host this event here.” 

    Historian and former BBC journalist Derek Taylor, author of Magna Carta in 20 Places, delivered the keynote address. He discussed of the history of Magna Carta and dispelled some of the popular myths about the document.

    “It’s revered all over the world as the most hallowed and ancient beacon of justice and freedom from oppression, but if we take a closer look at the document that the English King John was forced to agree by his barons in 1215, we soon discover that it actually did next to nothing for 85 percent of the population who remained agricultural slaves,” Taylor said.

    The panel “Secrets of the Archives: Why We Preserve Documents in the Digital Age,” led by Professor Janet Sinder, Director of the Library, brought together librarians, archivists, and scholars from the United States and England to explore what can be learned from physical documents and the impact of digitization on research and preservation. Panelists included Professors Christopher Beauchamp and Christina Mulligan.

    The luncheon program "Are the Rule of Law and Constitutional Rights Compatible with Democracy?" featured remarks from Dr. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, Senior Consultant on Constitutional Affairs to Policy Exchange, who spoke on the boundaries between judicial and legislative authority. Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law Andrew Napolitano and Professor Joel Gora provided commentary on the topic.      

    The luncheon was followed by “The Artist and the Law,” a conversation between President and Dean Nick Allard and artist Hew Locke, the London-based sculptor and contemporary visual artist who created the piece The Jurors on permanent display at Runnymede. Locke explained how his work was not intended as a parade of heroes or a memorial, but a prompt for discussion on the often conflicting ideas of justice, which have constantly shifted throughout history and around the world.

    The program considered Magna Carta’s future impact with the panel “Building a Magna Carta for the Digital Era – Collaborative Drafting of a Citizens’ Charter for Cyberspace,” moderated by Professor Jonathan Askin. The panel, featuring former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, included more than a half-dozen notables from the world of Internet activism, law, and civil liberties. More than a thousand viewers were on the livestream of the panel.

    "The problem of Internet governance arose when the technology shifted, to everyone's surprise [...], into the cable platform," Hundt said, explaining that before the shift to cable, the Internet was more a service that ran on top of existing telephone infrastructure, governed by the rules of telephony.

    Renowned scholar A.E. Dick Howard, professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, brought the day to a close with his lecture “Magna Carta's American Adventure.” “At the core of Magna Carta’s legacy in the United States is the rule of law,” said Howard, “the idea that no one, including those in government, is above the law.” He was introduced by Professor and Vice Dean William Araiza, while Professors Susan Herman, and I. Bennett Capers provided expert commentary.  

    Read more:

    International Business Times: Does The Internet Need An 'E-Magna Carta'? New Website Aims To Create Charter For The Digital Age

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Unique Magna Carta Exhibit Hosted at Brooklyn Law School (print only) Brooklyn: Create a charter for the blockchain internet this week

    View photos from the exhibit and symposium.

    Watch video from the symposium.

    Watch C-SPAN’s coverage of “Conversations with Derek Taylor and Dina Gold,” featuring Nick Allard as moderator.

    For more information about ABA’s “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015,” visit: