Magna Carta 800th anniversary events kick off in DC
This post was written by Tom Leighton, vice president of Legal Editorial Operations at Thomson Reuters
Washington DC was in the spotlight this past week as political, legal and academic leaders came together to kick off a year of Magna Carta celebrations. I was in the city with my colleagues John Shaughnessy and Gretchen DeSutter from Corporate Affairs, working closely with our friends and partners at the Law Library of Congress, American Inns of Court, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Temple Church to mark the official start of eight months of celebration commemorating this seminal legal document.
Things got started the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 5 with a conversation between two of the world’s preeminent jurists, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and The Rt. Hon. Lord Judge, former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. This conversation, moderated by Law Librarian of Congress David Mao, looked at how Magna Carta has shaped rule of law, and the contemporary relevance of this historic legal document. Wednesday evening, I attended a special reception at the British Embassy, hosted by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal and His Excellency Sir Peter Westmacott, British ambassador to the United States. This event underscored the spirit of close partnership and collegiality between the U.S. and UK delegations that have come together to celebrate their shared legal heritage. Following the reception we traveled to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for the first in a series of concerts by the world famousTemple Church Choir.
On Thursday, Nov. 6, a major exhibition, Magna Carta: Muse & Mentor, opened at the Library of Congress. The opening ceremony featured performances by the Temple Church Choir and Howard University Singers, and also included welcome remarks from Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. Thursday evening, a number of Thomson Reuters employees and some 400 dignitaries including Her Royal Highness, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy and Alito attended a black-tie gala at the Library of Congress. This event included performances by the Temple Church Choir and soprano Denyce Graves-Montgomery, plus a keynote address by Justice Scalia on the history of Magna Carta and its influence on American law.
Events culminated on Friday with an event at the U.S. Supreme Court jointly sponsored by the Inns of Court and Thomson Reuters. The evening began with a special performance of the Temple Church Choir in the Great Hall. This event, hosted by Justice Scalia, included a panel discussion in the Courtroom on the importance and impact of Magna Carta, moderated by Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland, who edited the new Thomson Reuters volume, Magna Carta: Muse & Mentor. This book of essays and images exploring the ancient and contemporary legal influences of Magna Carta was co-published with the Library of Congress. Among the honored guests at this event were Justice Breyer and his wife Joanna, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Lord Igor Judge, David Mao, the Law Librarian of Congress, as well as a number of state and federal judges and an extensive delegation from the U.S. and UK Inns of Court. Attendees also included Thomson Reuters executives and customers from leading law firms, government, corporations and academia.
Magna Carta has been described as the single most important legal document in history. Its principles led to the constitutional guarantees of individual liberty put forth by the Founding Fathers of the United States. It established the foundation for global commerce and the Rule of Law so has been essential to thriving and open financial markets, and transparent governments. Thomson Reuters support of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta reflects both our company’s values and enterprise-wide capabilities. And just as importantly, it perfectly reflects the values of our most important customers and stakeholders. I’m honored to work for a company that is willing to invest in such worthy causes that are so fundamental to the work that our dedicated colleagues do every day.