Retelling English Sovereignty

British J. Am. Legal Studies, Forthcoming

67 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2015

See all articles by Marc Lane Roark

Marc Lane Roark

University of Pretoria, S.A.; Southern University Law Center; The Savannah Law School

Date Written: March 21, 2015


Sovereign immunity is a legal fiction that forecloses the possibility of the government being hailed into court, except by its own permission. The fiction draws on narratives about kingship and realm, state and church, and property and owner that help shield the sovereign from challenges to its authority. This Article argues that sovereign immunity’s legal sources relied on relationships between king and church, king and property, and king and constitution to articulate an authority that could not be challenged by its subjects. This Article suggests that, absent other normative stories that support sovereign immunity, the doctrine remains empty of substance other than the legitimating of authority in the face of legal challenges.

Suggested Citation

Roark, Marc L. and Roark, Marc L., Retelling English Sovereignty (March 21, 2015). British J. Am. Legal Studies, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Marc L. Roark (Contact Author)

University of Pretoria, S.A. ( email )

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South Africa

Southern University Law Center ( email )

2 Roosevelt Steptoe Dr.
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
United States

The Savannah Law School ( email )

516 Drayton Street
Savannah, GA 31401
United States

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