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Your Weekly Constitutional
You are a part of the American Experiment.
Category: News & Politics
Location: Virginia, USA
Produced in partnership with James Madison's Montpelier, Your Weekly Constitutional is a public radio show featuring lively discussion of controversial constitutional topics, from Gay Rights to Gun Rights. Find us on Facebook and iTunes!
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We are a radio show about interesting and controversial issues involving the United States Constitution, issues like Gay Rights...


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August 30, 2013 09:36 AM PDT

Is he a whistle-blower, or a traitor?

We'll leave that judgment to history, or perhaps to the federal courts. In the meantime, we'll put Ed Snowden's Big Adventure in historical context, aided by Professor Joseph Fitsanakis, the Director of King University's Institute for Security and Intelligence Studies.

Join us for some cloak and dagger and a little dash of J. Edgar Hoover.

August 24, 2013 07:52 AM PDT

Dolley Madison started life in Virginia as a Payne - no pun intended.

Then her Quaker family moved to Philadelphia, where she married lawyer John Todd, and had two children.

Then, after the death of Todd and one of their children, Dolley faced financial hardship and was forced to sell bread on the streets of Philadelphia.

And all of this before she married James Madison - and you'll never believe who introduced them, and who served as James's wingman during the courtship.

We talk to Lynn Uzell, Scholar-in-Residence at Montpelier, who not only studies Dolley, but portrays her. We also take a tour of Todd House with Karie Diethorn, a historian with the National Park Service.

Join us!

August 22, 2013 08:09 AM PDT

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." James Madison, Federalist #47, January 30, 1788.

You said it, James! And this week we're talkin' Separation of Powers, or, as your 8th Grade teacher might have called it, "Checks and Balances." Either way, it's the first and most fundamental way that the Constitution protects our individual liberties. Ben Kleinerman from Michigan State University's James Madison College tells us all about it, and Cash Arehart, from Colonial Williamsburg, tells us about a new Electronic Field Trip that uses baseball to illustrate the concept (Cash is playing the role of Chief Justice John Marshall in the photograph).

We're also talking about how we might improve the Constitution, with our rabble-rousing buddy Chris Phillips and his new project at the National Constitution Center, "The Next 10 Amendments."

August 09, 2013 05:06 AM PDT

We finish our discussion of the Constitution's ratification with John Kaminski, the Director of the Center for the Study of the Constitution at the University of Wisconsin.

We also speak with ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook about the role of women in ratification. They had more to say than you might guess.

Finally, we talk to a real, live Madison, who is - perhaps - the first descendant of James Madison's immediate family to live at Montpelier in over a century.

Please join us.

August 02, 2013 06:42 AM PDT

What happened after Constitution Day? We celebrate the end of the Constitutional Convention every September 17 (join us at Montpelier!) but that day was as much a beginning as an end. And the story of the following nine months makes for a fascinating tale.

Join us as we speak with John Kaminski, the Director of the Center for the Study of the Constitution at the University of Wisconsin, which is in the midst of a 75-year-long project: the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution.

July 26, 2013 08:20 AM PDT

Is the Supreme Court just too darn old, by cracky?

Eric Segall of Georgia State University thinks that some of the Court's members are, perhaps, a bit long in the tooth. And he blames the aging of the Court squarely upon the Constitution - upon Article III, to be precise, which provides that federal judges may serve during "good behavior" -- which effectively means for life.

This one's a discussion for the ages.

July 20, 2013 06:43 AM PDT

Well, if you're the Supreme Court of the United States, you made yourself the Boss. And you did it more than 200 years ago, in the most important constitutional case in American history: Marbury v. Madison.

Our discussion of this remarkable case, and the remarkable story behind it, is long overdue. We've been waiting for just the right storyteller, and now we've found him: George Kuney of the University of Tennessee's College of Law.

Please join George and our host, Stewart Harris, as they talk about this fascinating case and the fascinating personalities behind it - James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and, of course, John Marshall, the greatest Chief Justice the High Court has ever known. Indeed, since Marshall wrote the decision in Marbury, nothing's ever been the same.

July 06, 2013 05:55 AM PDT

Ever heard of George Mason? And, no, we don't mean the GMU basketball team. George Mason, the Founder. The Framer of our Constitution? The guy who pushed the entire founding generation into adopting what became our national Bill of Rights?

Didn't think so. But he was remarkably important. He also had a cool house. We decided to visit it. And you're invited to join us.

June 29, 2013 06:12 PM PDT

Don't touch my junk!

It's the catchphrase for how most of us feel as we approach TSA airport checkpoints. But is there a constitutional issue there? What about the Fourth Amendment? That "unreasonable searches and seizures" stuff?

We talk with two people about this - ahem - pressing issue: Kate Hanni, from FlyersRights.org, and Adam Engel, a criminal defense attorney and security expert.

Fasten your seatbelts - it's going to be a bumpy ride.

June 12, 2013 04:14 AM PDT

Ready for a constitutional laff riot???

Listen to our interview with Peter Sagal, host of the NPR news quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" and also, more recently, the host of the four-part PBS series "Constitution USA with Peter Sagal."

We turn the tables on NPR's Quizmaster and make him answer some tough questions about the Constitution. Our Quiz Lady, Kelly Carmichael of James Madison's Montpelier, offers not only her usual multiple-choice brain teasers, but also some fake news stories and even some limericks, just as Peter does on his show.

So join us for a fun-filled discussion of "Constitution USA," "Wait, Wait" and, of course, the Constitution itself. And find out how Peter Sagal does without his answer key.

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