What would Biden replace our 'English jurisprudential culture' with?

Recently, while apologizing for his role in the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas more than a quarter-century ago, which involved sexual harassment claims made by Anita Hill, gaffe-prone Joe Biden let loose with quite a volley.

"It's an English jurisprudential culture, a white man's culture," Biden explained.  "It's got to change."

In an attempt to outflank other Democrat contenders in the identity politics sweepstakes, Biden became the first presidential candidate to openly question the entire system of law upon which our country is based.

And while it is tempting to dismiss Biden's remarks's desperate opportunism, it is important to remind all Americans that the British legal system is America's greatest inheritance.

Writing on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, author and parliamentarian Daniel Hannan observed:

It was at Runnymede, on June 15, 1215, that the idea of the law standing above the government first took contractual form.  King John accepted that he would no longer get to make the rules up as he went along.  From that acceptance flowed, ultimately, all the rights and freedoms that we now take for granted: uncensored newspapers, security of property, equality before the law, habeas corpus, regular elections, sanctity of contract, jury trials.

Our Founders built on the rights enunciated in the Magna Carta and on other significant British documents, such as the Petition of Right (1628) and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641).  The British Constitution is unwritten and is based on the English "common law" — law built through precedent, case by case, which has long served as a protection against excessive state power.  And while the people who originated this system may have been "white," the common law is practiced all over the world, in some eighty countries, including India and Hong Kong.

The framers went one step farther and codified the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.  "The rights we now take for granted — freedom of speech, religion, assembly and so on — are not the natural condition of an advanced society," Hannan concludes.  "They were developed overwhelmingly in the language in which you are reading these words."

To cavalierly dismiss a system of law that has given us all the protections we cherish as our birthright amounts to an attack on America itself.

While Biden is not regarded as a great legal scholar, he did in fact attend law school.  Will any member of the Fourth Estate have the courage to ask him: "Sir, if you jettison English jurisprudence, then what would you have us replace it with?"

You can follow Nicholas J. Kaster on Twitter.

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