Constitutionalizing Judicial Independence Prior to the U.S. Constitution
At the beginning of the 17th century, the territory that would later become the original thirteen states of the United States of America was known simply as “Virginia,” in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, England's “Virgin Queen.” No state played a more prominent role in the creation of the American republic than Virginia. Patrick Henry, a Virginian, issued the rallying cry, “give me liberty or give me death!” in response to the increasing oppression of British rule; Thomas Jefferson, a Virginian, penned the Declaration of Independence; George Washington, a Virginian, led the Continental Army to victory in the American Revolution; and James Madison, a Virginian, was the principal architect of the Constitution of the United States. Given the depth and breadth of Virginia's commitment to the power of ideas, ideals, and institutions, it should come as no surprise that Virginia appreciated earlier than almost any other state the importance of an independent judiciary for the preservation of liberty. This chapter explores the origins of an independent judiciary in Virginia.
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