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“Dr. Bonham’s Case”

Dr. Thomas Bonham’s case came before Chief Justice Edward Coke of the British Court of Common Pleas in 1610. At issue was a law that gave the London College of Physicians the power to imprison anyone practicing medicine without a license. Coke argued in his decision that the law was void for being “against common right and reason.” American jurists in the colonial era cited this case in support of the principle that statutes that conflict with fundamental law are void. It is often held to be the antecedent of both the doctrine of substantive due process and judicial review.
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