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Address to the 1980 graduating class of the University of Dayton School of Law.

Last year I stood in the meadow of Runnymeade where King, prelates, and nobles gathered in confrontation on the issue of freedom from tyrannical shackles. For me, it was an occasion of reflection on the eventual impact of this historic event on the freedoms my fellow- Americans and I enjoy. Not long after, I revisited Independence Hall in Philadelphia where after ten years of intense and sometimes highly divisive effort, our Constitution was adopted. This time my reflections took me back to Magna Carta. My thoughts were haunted by the question- hypothetical to be sure, but germane-without the Great Charter of England, would there have been a Constitution of the United States? Recently one of the four remaining copies of Magna Carta was brought to our country-and there have been observances at various places to refurbish our memories of its real meaning and its vast influence on our lives today.

Historians and legal scholars make reference to several sources of our liberty. Not all name the same. But none fails to include Magna Carta. Indeed, most of them embrace the Great Charter as a primary source.


Leon Jaworski is a partner with Fulbright and Jaworski of Houston, Texas. B.A. and LL.B., Baylor University 1925; LL.M., George Washington University 1926; admitted to Texas and D.C. Bar.

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