Dr. Bonham’s Case, decided by Edward Coke as Chief Justice of the British Court of Common Pleas in 1610, remains, to this day, the case acknowledging the supremacy of the fundamental (or natural) law interpreted and enforced as such by the judiciary and not a legislative body - here, Parliament. Coke’s idea of a law of nature superior to man-made law was not new. What was original, and even radical for the times, was the notion that the courts of law should be given the power and the right to interpret and enforce that law. This theory of judicial review was embraced first in the Massachusetts Colony in the case of Giddings v. Brown in 1657 and in subsequent challenges by the colonies to the supremacy of Parliamentary rule over them. Subsequently, Coke’s holding in Bonham’s Case became the very lynchpin for the American theory of the judicial review of legislation.
George P. Smith II, Dr. Bonham’s Case and the Modern Significance of Lord Coke’s Influence, 41 WASH. L. REV. 297 (1966).