Edward Coke (1552–1634) is a ubiquitous presence in works on English constitutional history and constitutional law. Coke was an important constitutional actor and author. He produced eleven volumes of law reports, including many of his own observations; and a series of institutional works, including many discussions of constitutional matters. While he never claimed to have set out a coherent or complete statement of his constitutional views, Coke is often mentioned in relation to the judicial review of legislation, as well as judicial independence and the separation of powers. This chapter highlights the difficulties in understanding Coke as writer and actor, arguing that an important part of Coke’s view of the constitution was expertise: power and legitimacy were predicated on ensuring that the best person for a role was allowed to perform that role to the best of his ability.
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