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The Bill of Rights: 'Icons' of liberty and law in the early twenty-first century

Kayman, Martin Andrew ORCID: 2011. The Bill of Rights: 'Icons' of liberty and law in the early twenty-first century. Law and Humanities 5 (2) , pp. 323-348. 10.5235/175214811798043649

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What sort of text is a Bill of Rights? The desire for a new foundational law manifested by the major political parties in the UK in the first decade of the 21st century expressed a crisis in Britain's identity as a land of liberty grounded in a distinctive national system of unwritten law. This historically uncharacteristic faith in the capacity of written law to advance freedom draws attention to the symbolic value that can be seen to attach to texts when they are themselves visible images of what they are held to represent, and which is invoked in contemporary parlance by the term 'iconic'. How, then, does an 'iconic' legal text ask to be read? As the term itself suggests, the question of relations between writing and the visual raises that of the relations between law and religion. This is especially relevant, moreover, when the latter is central to the crisis in national identity that the Bill of Rights seeks to resolve. The second part of the article therefore conducts a reading of two early 21st-century cases in the US Supreme Court dealing with challenges to the first article of the American Bill of Rights caused by displays of the Ten Commandments. The article concludes by returning to the iconicity of religion and law on this side of the Atlantic to address the regime of visibility implied by the ideals of the iconic law.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Publisher: Hart Publishing
ISSN: 1752-1483
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 09:16

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