362 episodes

A weekly show of constitutional debate hosted by National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen where listeners can hear the best arguments on all sides of the constitutional issues at the center of American life.

We the People National Constitution Center

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    • 4.6 • 869 Ratings

A weekly show of constitutional debate hosted by National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen where listeners can hear the best arguments on all sides of the constitutional issues at the center of American life.

    Juneteenth and the Constitution

    Juneteenth and the Constitution

    On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been issued over two years earlier, and the South had surrendered in April 1865, ending the Civil War. So why did it take so long for Texans to hear the news of their freedom? Why do we celebrate Juneteenth as Emancipation Day? And how did emancipation finally become a reality under the Constitution and throughout the nation?
    We answer those questions and more on this week’s episode featuring Martha Jones, author of 'Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All,' and Lucas Morel, author of 'Lincoln and the American Founding.' Jones and Morel trace the story of the fight for freedom and equality in America from the Declaration of Independence through the founding of the country and the Constitution; the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation; the ratification of the 13th Amendment; and beyond. They also highlight some of the fascinating figures and movements that shaped Black American politics and history. Jeffrey Rosen hosts.

    Questions or comments about the show? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
    Additional resources and transcript available at constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library.

    • 57 min
    The Home Stretch of the 2020–21 Supreme Court Term

    The Home Stretch of the 2020–21 Supreme Court Term

    As the Supreme Court approaches the home stretch of the 2020-2021 term, it’s released some opinions with unanimous decisions and others with split votes composed of unusual alignments of justices. Supreme Court experts Kate Shaw, cohost of the podcast Strict Scrutiny and professor at Cardozo Law, and Jonathan Adler, contributing editor of National Review and professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, join host Jeffrey Rosen to recap those decisions and detail why they’re important, as well as what to look out for in the rest of the outstanding cases still left in this term, and new cases in the next.
    Some terms that will be helpful to know this week:

    Textualism: a method of interpreting laws and/or the Constitution whereby the plain text is used to determine the meaning, and/or a set of techniques used by judges and justices to determine the application of a statute through close consideration of its text.

    Stare decisis: Latin for “to stand by things decided.” The doctrine of adhering to precedent i.e. cases previously decided.


    Questions or comments about the show? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Live at the NCC: Justice Breyer

    Live at the NCC: Justice Breyer

    Last week, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen for a live online program to discuss the Constitution, civility, the Court, and more. In a wide-ranging conversation, the justice discusses how he goes about making decisions, shares some stories and life lessons from his time on the bench, and shares some of his favorite books and authors. He also explains why civic education is so important today, why people need to reach across the political divides more than ever, and why he's optimistic about the future of America. Finally, he answers questions from the audience and describes how he’s been spending his time during the pandemic (including Zooming with his law clerks and meditating).
    This conversation was one of our constitutional classes broadcast live to learners of all ages. All of the classes from the past school year were recorded and can be watched for free at https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library.  

    Additional resources and transcript available at constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library.
    Questions or comments about the show? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Will Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?

    Will Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?

    The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks (with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “severe fetal abnormality,” but not for instances of rape or incest). The case could lead the Supreme Court to once again question its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade (and later cases like Planned Parenthood v. Casey) which held that there was a constitutional right to seek an abortion under the 14th Amendment and that the government could not place an undue burden on the right prior to the “viability” of the fetus, or the ability of an unborn child to survive outside the womb. This week’s episode focuses on two big questions: Does the Constitution indeed protect the right to choose abortion—and if so, when? And in the new abortion challenge, Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, will the court uphold Roe v. Wade or narrow the decision in some way, revising the viability standard? Our guests unpack these questions and more, explaining the arguments on all sides as well as relevant legal terms—including “substantive due process,” “natural law,” and “stare decisis.” Host Jeffrey Rosen was joined by Leah Litman, assistant professor at Michigan Law and co-host of the podcast Strict Scrutiny, and Teresa Stanton Collett, professor and director of the Prolife Center at University of St. Thomas School of Law.

    Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
    Additional resources and transcript available at constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library

    • 40 min
    Constitutional Issues in Voting Rights Today

    Constitutional Issues in Voting Rights Today

    In the wake of the 2020 election, a host of new laws that deal with voting have been proposed across the country by both states and the federal government. Election law experts Rick Hasen, professor at UCI Law and author of Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy, and Derek Muller, election law professor at Iowa Law, join host Jeffrey Rosen to discuss whether or not the proposed bills are constitutional; explain how the election system is structured under our Constitution and state, federal, and local laws; and more.

    Questions or comments about the show? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
    Additional resources and transcript available at constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    The Second Amendment and Concealed Carry

    The Second Amendment and Concealed Carry

    This week’s episode previews New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett, which could become a major Second Amendment and gun rights case. This lawsuit was brought by two New York state residents who were denied licenses to carry firearms outside of the home, AKA “concealed carry” permits, because they had failed to show "proper cause" to carry a firearm in public for the purpose of self-defense and did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished them from the general public. Host Jeffrey Rosen was joined by Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, and Clark Neily, who was co-counsel in the major gun rights case District of Columbia v. Heller, to explore the case, debate whether New York’s controversial concealed carry law is constitutional, examine the surprising history of similar laws, and more. 

    Questions or comments about the show? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
    Additional resources and transcript available at constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library.

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
869 Ratings

869 Ratings

Piculina ,

Informative and courteous

I thoroughly enjoy listening to the informed and respectful discussions and debates on this podcast. Keep up the good work.

Rainbow_turtle ,

Always Civil

I really enjoy how the participants on this podcast remain civil with one another even when debating constitutional issues that I would consider extremely polarizing or opinion defining. It is nice to hear people able to show both sides of issues.

Nesorneb ,

A Civic House Built on Rock

The National Constitution Center, including this podcast, is an essential resource for our nation.

2020 has been a year of disruption &, in many ways, revolution. While our nation’s roots can be said to be firmly planted in the soil of disruption & revolution, our Founders struggled with (& seemed to embrace) the tension between the emotional & the rational, the ideal & the real and other such existential tensions. Our nation has, collectively, witnessed our strongest & weakest instincts manifest in one historic wave after another.

Ironically, there can be a tendency to neglect our nation’s history in the midst of these present historic waves. The National Constitution Center provides essential sails & a rudder to help us captain & crew the ship of our nation. It does so by struggling with & embracing the tensions of our nation’s history through the lens of our nation’s history.

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