1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bill of Rights
BILL OF RIGHTS, an important statute in English constitutional history. On the 13th of February 1689 the Declaration of Right, a document drawn up by a committee of the commons, and embodying the fundamental principles of the constitution, was delivered by the lords and commons to the prince and princess of Orange, afterwards William III. and Mary. In December 1689 the rights claimed by the declaration were enacted with some alterations by the Bill of Rights, next to Magna Carta the greatest landmark in the constitutional history of England and the nearest approach to the written constitutions of other countries. The act (the full name of which is An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject, and settling the Succession of the Crown), after reciting the unconstitutional proceedings of James II., the abdication of that king, the consequent vacancy of the crown, and the summons of the convention parliament, declared, on the part of the lords and commons, “for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties”—
The further provisions of the act were concerned with the settlement of the crown upon the prince and princess of Orange, with the exception of § 12, which negatived the right of dispensation by non obstante to or of any statute or any part thereof, unless a dispensation be allowed in the statute itself or by bill or bills to be passed during the then session of parliament.
It is to be noticed that the Declaration of Right and the Bill of Rights introduced no new principle into the English constitution; it was merely a declaration of the law as it stood. In the United States, the main provisions of the Bill of Rights, so far as they are applicable, have been adopted both in the constitution of the United States and in the state constitutions.
- Non obstante (notwithstanding) means a licence from the crown to do that which could not be lawfully done without it.