The Star Chamber in current

The Star Chamber in current news: Enron executives testifying, or rather not testifying, on Capitol Hill are the latest to make use of the magical cloaking effect of the Fifth Amendment. And why, you may wonder, did our founding fathers choose to build this odd privilege into the bedrock of our nation? The surprising answer, as I learned listening to public radio, is the court of Star Chamber. Its abuses in forcing people to condemn themselves during the rule of the Stuart kings brought into English Common Law the concept that people should not be compelled by the government to testify against themselves. Interestingly, there is no such legal construct on the Continent (or most other places in the world). Fascinating stuff.

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