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Constitutions and the ClassicsPatterns of Constitutional Thought from Fortescue to Bentham$
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Denis Galligan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714989.001.0001

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Edward Coke

Edward Coke

Chapter:
(p.86) 3 Edward Coke
Source:
Constitutions and the Classics
Author(s):

Ian Williams

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714989.003.0003

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.

Keywords:   English law, constitution, constitutional thought, constitutional history, constitutional law, separation of powers, parliamentary sovereignty

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