When Stewart made a reservation at the historic Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, he didn't fully appreciate just how historic the hotel is. It turns out that the Irish Constitution was drafted there, and he heard all about the process from the hotel’s unofficial historian, Dennis O’Brien.
Benjamin Franklin has been called the first American. We might also call him the last American Englishman, because he was one of the last of our Founders to abandon his hope that, somehow, America and England could patch up their differences and avoid armed conflict. Indeed, our Founding Grandfather spent sixteen years in London just prior to the American Revolution, trying to keep the American colonies British.
Stewart recently travelled to London, where he visited the house where Franklin lived, near Trafalgar Square. He spoke with the staff at what is now called the Benjamin Franklin House, who told him the whole story. They even played a musical instrument that Franklin invented while he was there, the Glass Armonica.
In 1940, one constitutional democracy stood alone against the onslaught of Nazi aggression. And one man led that nation, alone, for the next year, until, "in God's good time," the New World came to the aid of the Old.
That nation was the United Kingdom, and that leader was Winston Spencer Churchill. Stewart recently visited Churchill’s home, Chartwell, in the South of England, and spoke to a number of knowledgeable and helpful volunteers there. Now he wants to share that visit with you.
If you want to see the U.S. Constitution, it’s easy – just take a trip to the National Archives where it’s on public display. But what if you want to see the British Constitution? That’s not so easy, because it’s not written down. Or, more properly, much of it is unwritten, and the parts that are written down are spread over many different documents.
If you find this confusing, join the club. Stewart was so confused that he went all the way to the UK to get an explanation from Dan O’Boyle, a law professor from the University of Law in Guildford, England.
Only once in its history has the United States gone to war to resolve a constitutional issue. The war was the American Civil War and the issue was slavery.
In this episode we go to where it all effectively came to an end: a small, remote town in Virginia called Appomattox Court House.
As this podcast gets posted, in the summer of 2014, the voters of the State of Tennessee are about to go to the polls to decide whether to retain three of the Justices of their Supreme Court.
While judicial retention elections are traditionally sleepy affairs, this one is different: the Lieutenant Governor and others are making a concerted effort to convince the voters to "non-retain" these three Justices. Why? We wanted to ask the Lt. Governor, but, to our disappointment, he did not return our calls and emails.
So we've reached back twenty years, to the last (and only) time that a Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court -- Stewart's colleague at the University of Tennessee, Penny White -- was non-retained. And we've found some eerie similarities to the current controversy.
Dolly Parton! Whaa?
It turns out that the country music superstar is a high school friend of the Chief Justice of Tennessee. His name is Gary Wade, and he tells us some fascinating stories about how he became the highest judicial officer in his state, what his job entails, and how he now faces a coordinated political attempt to have him removed from the bench, along with two of his Supreme Court colleagues.
On a happier note, he also tells us some great stories about his high-school friend and "television girlfriend," Dolly Parton. Do you know, for example, what instrument Dolly played in the Sevier County High School Band? Hint: it wasn't the flute. But you'll have to listen in to find out more.
Cloaks and daggers? Old news. Now it's keypads and iPads and other high-tech spying.
The United States and China both do it. But they do it differently - or so they say. Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, the Director of the King Institute for Security and Intelligence Studies, tells us all about this secret struggle for security supremacy.
Here's the latest in our series about the judiciary. This time we speak with the kind of judge you are most likely to encounter if ever you find yourself in court: a trial judge. His name is Thomas Seeley, Jr., and he hears all types of civil cases in his courtroom in Johnson City, Tennessee. As you might expect, he's got lots of interesting stuff to say.
After Judge Seeley, we get in the car and drive down to North Carolina to visit the remarkable Grove Park Inn, a five-star resort frequented by Presidents and foreign diplomats and, perhaps, by another group of people you've heard of: the United States Supreme Court. Tracey Johnston-Crum, the Inn's resident historian, tells us all about a secret contract with the Court that provides that . . . well, you'll just have to listen in to find out.
The Good News Club is an after-school program run by evangelical Christians. A few years back, the Supreme Court ruled that public schools who had denied access to the Club for fear of violating the Establishment Clause had actually violated another part of the First Amendment, the Speech Clause. In essence, the Court said that all groups, religious and non-religious, were constitutionally entitled to equal access to public facilities - otherwise, the government would be regulating their speech based upon its content.
Author and journalist Katherine Stewart thinks that the Supreme Court got it wrong: the Good News Club, or rather, the public schools that now allow it on campus, are indeed violating the Establishment Clause, she believes. And whether you agree with her or not, she makes some interesting arguments and tells a compelling story.