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suspending power

suspending power. Though the monarch could not arbitrarily repeal a statute, he claimed, as executive, the right to suspend its operation. This was an intelligible safeguard at a time when parliaments were summoned infrequently. Controversy began when Charles II, who disapproved of the penal laws against religious dissidents, issued a Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 to circumvent them. He was forced by the Commons to withdraw it. James II repeated the attempt in 1687 and indicted the seven bishops for questioning the validity of his actions. The bishops were acquitted, Sir John Powell declaring, ‘if this be once allowed, there will need no Parliament.’ The same day, a message was dispatched to William of Orange, begging him to rescue the liberties of the subject. By the Bill of Rights in 1689 the suspending power of the crown was abolished. See dispensing power.

J. A. Cannon

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