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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Jurisdiction Stripping in Revolutionary France According to Edmund Burke’s Reflections (1790)


Jurisdiction Stripping in Revolutionary France According to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790):

It is curious to observe that the administrative bodies are carefully exempted from the jurisdiction of these new [revolutionary] tribunals. That is, those persons are exempted from the power of the laws who ought to be the most entirely submitted to them. Those who execute public pecuniary trusts ought of all men to be the most strictly held to their duty. One would have thought that it must have been among your earliest cares, if you did not mean that those administrative bodies should be real, sovereign, independent states, to form an awful tribunal, like your late parliaments, or like our king’s bench, where all corporate officers might obtain protection in the legal exercise of their functions, and would find coercion if they trespassed against their legal duty. But the cause of the exemption is plain. These administrative bodies are the great instruments of the present leaders in their progress through democracy to oligarchy. They must, therefore, be put above the law. It will be said that the legal [revolutionary] tribunals which you have made are unfit to coerce them [that is, the administrative bodies]. They are, undoubtedly. They are unfit for any rational purpose. It will be said, too, that the administrative bodies will be accountable to the General Assembly. This I fear is talking without much consideration of the nature of that Assembly, or of these corporations. However, to be subject to the pleasure of that Assembly is not to be subject to law either for protection or for constraint.

Id. (emphasis added).



Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘Jurisdiction Stripping in Revolutionary France According to Edmund Burke’s Reflections (1790),’ New Reform Club (Mar. 27, 2024, 2:57 PM), <>;

[N/B: Outside the United States, jurisdiction-stripping provisions in statutes are known as ouster clauses or privative clauses.]

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