What might a 2016 Magna Carta look like?
Signed in 1215, the original Magna Carta was one of the first Western legal documents to protect the rights of the individual against the power of a despotic ruler. The rights it offered--such as the right to a swift and fair trial--seem rather basic to us today, but in 1215 they were radical. A 2016 Magna Carta would hopefully preserve the radical spirit of the original and present a robust protection of the liberties of the individual. Here are some ways a new Magna Carta might seek to do this:
- Prohibit forced service in the armed forces (conscription, more commonly known as "the draft")
- Prohibit government surveillance of citizens without a warrant
- Prohibit civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government to confiscate a person's property without convicting him or her of a crime
- Prohibit official government discrimination against individuals for any reason, such as belonging to an unpopular or anti-government group
Since the Magna Carta was a charter designed to protect the individual rights of barons and regular English citizens, you would want to focus on creating a document that pertained to the rights of individuals today. The goal of the Magna Carta was to challenge the unlimited authority of kings as well, so you can also focus on areas where our government and individuals leading our nation have overstepped the power and authority given to them.
Some individual rights that are currently in the news today are the rights of gay people, transgender individuals, gun owners, women and minorities. Compiling a list of problem areas of power and a list of rights that are being infringed upon or threatened would be a great way to create your “modern” Magna Carta.