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Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
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Radiolab Presents: More Perfect

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Radiolab’s More Perfect is a series about the Supreme Court. More Perfect explores how cases inside the rarefied world of the Supreme Court affect our lives far away from the bench.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other great podcasts including Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media, Nancy and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.
© WNYC Studios
33 Episodes
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This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. In More Perfect's final episode of the season, listen to liner notes for two amendments that contemplate the still-unfinished status of our Constitution. "27" is an album that marks a particular point in our history: this moment when we have 27 Amendments to our Constitution. What will be the 28th? Maybe it will address our nation's capital. The capital has been a bit of a Constitutional anomaly for much of our nation's history — it's at the heart of the democracy, but because it's not a state, people in Washington D.C. have been disenfranchised almost by accident. The 23rd Amendment solved some of the problem — it gave D.C. the right to vote for president. But it left much of D.C.'s representation questions unanswered. D.C. still does not have voting representation in Congress. Instead, D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to Congress. For this liner note, More Perfect profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. The song for the 23rd Amendment is by The Mellow Tones, a group of students from D.C. high school Duke Ellington School of the Arts, along with their teacher Mark G. Meadows. The chorus, "Why won't you count on me?" reflects on the continued disenfranchisement of our nation's capital.   The final amendment of the album, the 27th Amendment, put limits on Senators' ability to give themselves a pay raise, and it has arguably the most unusual path to ratification of all 27. The first draft for the amendment was written by none other than James Madison in 1789, but back then, it didn't get enough votes from the states for ratification. It wasn't until a college student named Gregory Watson awakened the dormant amendment centuries later that it was finally ratified. The 27th Amendment song is by Kevin Devine and tells Watson's story.
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. This week, More Perfect takes a look at three amendments on the more obscure end of the spectrum. The 12th, 17th, and 20th Amendments made fine-tune adjustments to the way we pick our leaders. More Perfect is here to prove these three are more interesting than you think they are. For starters, the 12th Amendment is the secret star of the hit musical Hamilton. The Election of 1800 and the kerfuffle between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson was one of the reasons we passed the 12th Amendment, which made it so that presidential and vice presidential candidates run alongside each other on a single ticket. It was meant to avoid awkward situations where political opponents suddenly had to be partners in government. But Radiolab's Rachael Cusick reflects on the Clinton-Trump race and the ways the 12th Amendment may have polarized politics. Then, listen to Octopus Project's original song about the 12th Amendment.   The idea for the 20th Amendment, which shortened the "lame duck" period for outgoing presidents and members of Congress, was first proposed around the same time as the 12th, but it took years to get political momentum to pass it. That momentum came in part from infamous president, Warren G. Harding, whose missteps ignited a movement to pass it. Huey Supreme wrote an original song about the 20th Amendment from the perspective of a lame duck. Then, More Perfect skips back to the 17th Amendment, which made the election of U.S. senators more democratic. Our state legislatures used to hand-pick Senators, but the 17th made it so the people elect their Senators directly. More Perfect reflects on whether direct democracy is all it's cracked up to be. Listen to original songs about the 17th amendment by Stef Chura and Donny Dinero (of Mail the Horse).  
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. The 25th and 26th Amendments-- ratified in 1967 and 1971, respectively-- are some of the newest additions to our founding document. However, they tackle some pretty basic questions: who gets to rule, and who gets to vote? If a president dies or is incapacitated, who takes over? And how old do you have to be in order to participate in American democracy? In recent months, the 25th Amendment has swirled in and out of news cycles as Americans debate what it takes to declare a president unfit for office. But this episode looks back, even before the 25th Amendment was ratified: a moment in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson became bedridden by stroke, and his wife, Edith Wilson, became our country’s unofficial first female president. The 26th Amendment is best encapsulated in a Vietnam-era slogan: “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are becoming victims of gun violence and finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? When you're done with the episode, check out songs by Devendra Banhart and Suburban Living inspired by Amendments 25 and 26 on 27: The Most Perfect Album. And watch Devendra Banhart's incredible music video here!   Video illustration by Justin Buschardt.Video animation by The Mighty Coconut. Special thanks to The White House Historical Association. 
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. On first read the 16th and 22nd Amendments are at best sleepers and at worst, stinkers. In a list of Constitutional hits like the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, and birthright citizenship, the amendments covering taxes and term limits tend to fall by the wayside. But in Episode 6 of More Perfect's third season we take these forgotten gems and make them shine. The 16th Amendment sets up the income tax, sinking dread into the hearts of millions of Americans every April. But if the income tax is so hated, why did we vote to put it in the Constitution? And why do so many people willingly pay? In this episode we take on those questions and contemplate whether the 16th amendment might be less about money or law, than is about deciding what it means to belong. Next we move on to the 22nd Amendment and presidential term limits. If we as U.S. citizens are happy with our leadership, why shouldn't we be able to keep electing the same president for as many terms as we want? The ghost of George Washington comes back to give Franklin Delano Roosevelt some major side-eye as we explore the roots of the rule, and why it matters today. When you're done with the episode, check out songs by Post Animal and Pavo Pavo inspired by Amendments 16 and 22 on 27: The Most Perfect Album.
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. Amendments 13, 14, and 15 are collectively known as the Reconstruction Amendments: they were passed as instructions to rebuild the country after Civil War. They addressed slavery, citizenship, equality and voting rights for black people. This week, the More Perfect team explores the legacy of the amendments beyond the Civil War — the ways the promises of these amendments changed the country and the ways they've fallen short. First, More Perfect Executive Producer Suzie Lechtenberg and Legal Editor Elie Mystal explore the loophole in the 13th Amendment's slavery ban that's being used in a strange context: college football. We share songs about the 13th Amendment from Kash Doll and Bette Smith. Then, producer Julia Longoria shares a conversation with her roommate Alia Almeida exploring their relationship to the amendments. Inspired by the 14th's Amendment's grant of equal protection and citizenship rights, Sarah Kay's poem tells the story of her grandmother, a U.S. citizen who was interned during World War II in a Japanese American Internment camp. Despite the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, the Supreme Court upheld the internment of U.S. citizens based solely on their Japanese heritage in a case called Korematsu v. United States. In 2018, the Supreme Court said Korematsu was "wrong the day it was decided." The Court went on to uphold President Trump's controversial travel ban in Trump v. Hawaii. "Korematsu has nothing to do with this case," wrote the majority. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sotomayor accused the majority of "redeploying the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu" when they upheld the ban. Finally, hear songs inspired by the 15th Amendment by Aisha Burns and Nnamidi Ogbonnaya.
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes.Episode Four begins, as all episodes should: with Dolly Parton. Parton wrote a song for us (!) about the 19th Amendment and women (finally) getting the right to vote.Also in this episode: Our siblings at Radiolab share a story with us that they did about how the 19th Amendment almost died on a hot summer night in Tennessee. The 19th Amendment was obviously a huge milestone for women in the United States. But it was pretty well-understood that this wasn’t a victory for all women; it was a victory for white women. People of color have faced all sorts of barriers to voting throughout our nation's history. This includes poll taxes, which were fees people had to pay in order to vote. The 24th Amendment eliminated federal poll taxes in 1964. We hear a song inspired by the 24th Amendment, created for us by Caroline Shaw. Kevin Morby made an excellent song for us about the 24th, too. Check it out here. Finally, Simon Tam, from the band The Slants tells the story of the Supreme Court case about their name, and talks about the song they wrote about the 18th and 21st Amendments for our album. (It’s a jam!)
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. The first eight amendments to the U.S. Constitution are literal, straightforward, and direct. But when we get to Amendments nine, 10, and 11, things get… hazy. These are some of the least literal amendments in the Constitution: they mean more than they say, and what they say is often extremely confusing. So in the third episode of the new More Perfect season we take these three blurry amendments and bring them into focus, embarking on a metaphorical, metaphysical, and somewhat astronomical journey to find the perfect analogies to truly understand each one. Episode Three reaches for lofty metaphors of moon shadows, legal penumbras, and romantic relationships — as well as more guttural, frankly gross ones, like the human appendix, to describe the three amendments that define the nature of our union and the powers of the government and the people. And when you're done with the episode, listen to the songs by The Kominas, Lean Year, and Field Medic inspired by Amendments 9, 10 and 11 on 27: The Most Perfect Album.    
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments enshrine some of our most important civil liberties. They tell us about the rights we have when the government knocks on our door, including protections from "unreasonable searches and seizures," self-incrimination, "cruel and unusual punishments," and the right to "a speedy and public trial"-- among others. Episode Two looks at these amendments through the story of one man, Christopher Scott, who finds himself face-to-face with Dallas police officers as they investigate a violent crime. The role that these amendments play—and fail to play— in Christopher’s encounter tells a profound story about the presence of the Constitution in our everyday lives. And when you're done with the episode, listen to the songs by Briana Marela, Torres, Sons of an Illustrious Father, Adia Victoria, Nana Grizol, and High Waisted inspired by Amendments 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 on 27: The Most Perfect Album.   Special thanks to Gloria Browne-Marshall and David Gray.
The Gun Show Reprise

The Gun Show Reprise

2018-09-1901:10:3516

Last year in the wake of the attack in Las Vegas, reporter Sean Rameswaram took a deep dive into America's twisty, thorny, seemingly irreconcilable relationship with guns. It's a story about the Second Amendment, the Black Panthers, the NRA, and a guy named Dick Heller, who in 2008 brought the Second Amendment to the Supreme Court for the very first time.
This season, More Perfect is taking our camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. Let's get started. If we're talking about the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, it only feels right to start at the beginning. The First and Second Amendments are arguably the most ferociously contentious amendments of them all, and the Third Amendment is the underdog that everyone underestimates but (maybe) shouldn’t. With that in mind, Episode One dives into the poetic dream behind the First Amendment. This is the amendment that reflects the kind of country the Founding Fathers hoped we would be. Next, we examine the fiercely debated words of the Second Amendment, words that often feel like they divide our nation in two. And finally, we question whether the seemingly irrelevant Third Amendment might actually be the key to figuring out where our country is going. And when you're done with the episode, take a listen to the songs by Joey Stylez, Cherry Glazerr, Sateen, Flor de Toloache, Michael Richard Klics, Palehound, and They Might be Giants inspired by Amendments 1, 2 and 3 on 27: The Most Perfect Album.
American Pendulum Reprise

American Pendulum Reprise

2018-06-2647:2332

What happens when the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, seems to get it wrong? Korematsu v. United States upheld President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens during World War II based solely on their Japanese heritage, for the sake of national security. In this episode, we follow Fred Korematsu’s path to the Supreme Court, and we ask the question: if you can’t get justice in the Supreme Court, can you find it someplace else?
One Nation, Under Money

One Nation, Under Money

2018-01-3053:2568

An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for growing too much wheat on his farm, to enforcing the end of racial segregation nationwide. That is, if the federal government can make an economic case for it. This seemingly all-powerful tool has the potential to unite the 50 states into one nation and protect the civil liberties of all. But it also challenges us to consider: when we make everything about money, what does it cost us?   The key voices: - Roscoe Filbrun Jr., Son of Roscoe Filbrun Sr., respondent in Wickard v. Filburn- Ollie McClung Jr., Son of Ollie McClung Sr., respondent in Katzenbach v. McClung- James M. Chen, professor at Michigan State University College of Law- Jami Floyd, legal analyst and host of WNYC’s All Things Considered who, as a domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House, worked on the Violence Against Women Act- Ari J. Savitzky, lawyer at WilmerHale    The key cases: - 1824: Gibbons v. Ogden- 1942: Wickard v. Filburn- 1964: Katzenbach v. McClung- 2000: United States v. Morrison- 2012: National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius   Additional production for this episode by Derek John and Louis Mitchell. Special thanks to Jess Mador, Andrew Yeager, and Rachel Iacovone.                                                                                                                    Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
Justice, Interrupted

Justice, Interrupted

2017-12-1924:1749

The rules of oral argument at the Supreme Court are strict: when a justice speaks, the advocate has to shut up.  But a law student noticed that the rules were getting broken again and again — by men.  He and his professor set out to chart an epidemic of interruptions.  If women can’t catch a break in the boardroom or the legislature (or at the MTV VMA’s), what’s it going to take to let them speak from the bench of the highest court in the land? The key voices: Tonja Jacobi, professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Dylan Schweers, former student at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law The key cases: 2016: Fisher v. University of Texas The key links: Justice Interrupted: The Effect of Gender, Ideology and Seniority at Supreme Court Oral Arguments   Special thanks to Franklin Chen and Deborah Tannen.> Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
The Architect

The Architect

2017-12-0735:2540

On this episode, we revisit Edward Blum, a self-described “legal entrepreneur” and former stockbroker who has become something of a Supreme Court matchmaker: he takes an issue, finds the perfect plaintiff, matches them with lawyers, and helps the case work its way to the highest court in the land. His target: laws that differentiate between people based on race — including ones that empower minorities. More Perfect profiled Edward Blum in season one of the show. We catch up with him to hear about his latest effort to end affirmative action at Harvard.  The key voices: Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman for the 18th district of Texas The key cases: 1977: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke 2003: Grutter v. Bollinger 2013: Shelby County v. Holder 2013: Fisher v. University of Texas (1) 2016: Fisher v. University of Texas (2) The key links: More Perfect Season 1: The Imperfect Plaintiffs Blum's websites seeking plaintiffs for cases he is building against Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Wisconsin Students for Fair Admissions' complaint; and Harvard's response. “To become leaders in our diverse society, students must have the ability to work with people from different backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives. Many colleges across America – including Harvard College – receive applications from far more highly qualified individuals each year than they can possibly admit. When choosing among academically qualified applicants, colleges must continue to have the freedom and flexibility to consider each person’s unique backgrounds and life experiences, consistent with the legal standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court,  in order to provide the rigorous, enriching, and diverse campus environments that expand the horizons of all students. In doing so, American higher education institutions can continue to give every undergraduate exposure to peers with a deep and wide variety of academic interests, viewpoints, and talents in order to better challenge their own assumptions and develop the skills they need to succeed, and to lead, in an ever more diverse workforce and an increasingly interconnected world.”  - Robert Iuliano, senior vice president and general counsel of Harvard University  Special thanks to Guy Charles, Katherine Wells, and Matt Frassica. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
On a fall afternoon in 1984, Dethorne Graham ran into a convenience store for a bottle of orange juice. Minutes later he was unconscious, injured, and in police handcuffs. In this episode, we explore a case that sent two Charlotte lawyers on a quest for true objectivity, and changed the face of policing in the US. The key voices: Dethorne Graham Jr., son of Dethorne Graham, appellant in Graham v. Connor Edward G. (Woody) Connette, lawyer who represented Graham in the lower courts Gerald Beaver, lawyer who represented Graham at the Supreme Court Kelly McEvers, host of Embedded and All Things Considered The key case: 1989: Graham v. Connor Additional production for this episode by Dylan Keefe and Derek John; additional music by Matt Kielty and Nicolas Carter. Special thanks to Cynthia Lee, Frank B. Aycock III, Josh Rosenkrantz, Leonard Feldman, Tom Dreisbach, and Ben Montgomery. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.  
Sex Appeal

Sex Appeal

2017-11-2357:1069

“Equal protection of the laws” was granted to all persons by the 14th Amendment in 1868. But for nearly a century after that, women had a hard time convincing the courts that they should be allowed to be jurors, lawyers, and bartenders, just the same as men. A then-lawyer at the ACLU named Ruth Bader Ginsburg set out to convince an all-male Supreme Court to take sex discrimination seriously with an unconventional strategy. She didn’t just bring cases where women were the victims of discrimination; she also brought cases where men were the victims. In this episode, we look at how a key battle for gender equality was won with frat boys and beer.   The key voices: Carolyn Whitener, former owner of the Honk n’ Holler Curtis Craig, appellant in Craig v. Boren Fred Gilbert, lawyer who represented Craig in Craig v. Boren Mary Hartnett, adjunct professor at Georgetown Law Wendy Williams, professor emerita at Georgetown Law The key cases: 1873: Bradwell v. The State 1948: Goesart v. Cleary 1961: Hoyt v. Florida 1971: Reed v. Reed 1973: Frontiero v. Richardson 1975: Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld 1976: Craig v. Boren 1996: United States v. Virginia The key links: ACLU Women’s Rights Project My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy Williams Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman “What’s Wrong With ‘Equal Rights’ For Women” by Phyllis Schlafly   Special thanks to Stephen Wiesenfeld, Alison Keith, and Bob Darcy. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
The Hate Debate

The Hate Debate

2017-11-0637:2326

Should you be able to say and do whatever you want online? And if not, who should police this? More Perfect hosts a debate at WNYC's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space about online hate speech, fake news, and whether the First Amendment needs an update for the digital age. The key voices: Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Elie Mystal, executive editor at Above the Law and contributing legal editor at More Perfect Ken White, litigator and criminal defense attorney at Brown White & Osborn LLP — he also runs Popehat.com The key cases: 1957: Yates v. United States 1969: Brandenburg v. Ohio The key links: ProPublica's report on Facebook's censorship policies   Special thanks to Elaine Chen, Jennifer Keeney Sendrow, and the entire Greene Space team. Additional engineering for this episode by Chase Culpon, Louis Mitchell, and Alex Overington. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.  Watch the event below:   NOTE: Because of the topic for the night, this discussion includes disturbing images and language, such as religious, ethnic and gender slurs and profanity. We have preserved this content so that our audience can understand the nature of this speech. ADDENDUM: During the debate one of debaters misspoke and said World War II when he meant World War I. The case he was referring to can be found here.
Citizens United

Citizens United

2017-11-0201:01:5663

Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is one of the most polarizing Supreme Court cases of all time. So what is it actually about, and why did the Justices decide the way they did? Justice Anthony Kennedy, often called the “most powerful man in America,” wrote the majority opinion in the case. In this episode, we examine Kennedy’s singular devotion to the First Amendment and look at how it may have influenced his decision in the case.  The key voices: Kai Newkirk, 99 Rise  Michael Boos, vice president and general counsel of Citizens United  Jim Bopp, lawyer, The Bopp Law Firm Marcia Coyle, chief Washington correspondent for The National Law Journal Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a contributing editor of The Atlantic, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Jeffrey Toobin, writer and contributor to The New Yorker and CNN Michael Dorf, professor of law at Cornell University and former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy Alex Kozinski, circuit judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy** The key cases: 2010: Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commision The key links: Citizens United "Money Unlimited," by Jeffrey Toobin Correction: A earlier version of this episode misstated the date of the last day of the 2009 term.  Additional music for this episode by:  Gyan Riley  Kevin MacLeod "Bad Ideas (distressed)"Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ Special thanks to Justin Levitt, Guy-Uriel Charles, William Baude, Helen Knowles, and Derek John.  Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell. **This episode was taped prior to The Washington Post's reporting on Judge Alex Kozinski which was published on December 8, 2017. 
Enemy of Mankind

Enemy of Mankind

2017-10-2455:5332

Should the U.S. Supreme Court be the court of the world? In the 18th century, two feuding Frenchmen inspired a one-sentence law that helped launch American human rights litigation into the 20th century. The Alien Tort Statute allowed a Paraguayan woman to find justice for a terrible crime committed in her homeland. But as America reached further and further out into the world, the court was forced to confront the contradictions in our country’s ideology: sympathy vs. sovereignty. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case that could reshape the way America responds to human rights abuses abroad. Does the A.T.S. secure human rights or is it a dangerous overreach? The key voices: Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., son of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa Sr. Dolly Filártiga, sister of Joelito Filártiga Paloma Calles, daughter of Dolly Filártiga Peter Weiss, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights who represented Dolly Filártiga in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala Katherine Gallagher, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights Paul Hoffman, lawyer who represented Kiobel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum John Bellinger, former legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council William Casto, professor at Texas Tech University School of Law Eric Posner, professor at University of Chicago Law School Samuel Moyn, professor at Yale University René Horst, professor at Appalachian State University The key cases: 1984: Filártiga v. Peña-Irala 2013: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum 2017: Jesner v. Arab Bank The key links: Center for Constitutional Rights Additional music for this episode by Nicolas Carter. Special thanks to William J. Aceves, William Baude, Diego Calles, Alana Casanova-Burgess, William Dodge, Susan Farbstein, Jeffery Fisher, Joanne Freeman, Julian Ku, Nicholas Rosenkranz, Susan Simpson, Emily Vinson, Benjamin Wittes and Jamison York. Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., who appears in this episode, passed away in October 2016. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
The Heist

The Heist

2017-10-1622:0422

The Supreme Court may not have been conceptualized as a co-equal branch of the federal government, but it became one as a result of the political maneuvering of Chief Justice John Marshall. The fourth (and longest-serving) chief justice was "a great lover of power," according to historian Jill Lepore, but he was also a great lover of secrecy. Marshall believed, in order for the justices to confer with each other candidly, their papers needed to remain secret in perpetuity. It was under this veil of secrecy that the biggest heist in the history of the Supreme Court took place.  The key voices: Jill Lepore, professor of American history at Harvard University The key links: "The Great Paper Caper," The New Yorker (2014) Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court justice 1939 to 1962 Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell. 
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Comments (74)

Matthew Stephenson

Got to love Dick from the last story. Clearly completely mad and about 2 steps removed from reality in an almost loveable way

May 12th
Reply

Michelle McCurdy

The death penalty is cruel and unusual. Period. It's past time to end it and create a justice system focused on building human dignity, not punishment.

Oct 29th
Reply

Fred Jacquier

4544z4e74744834536

Aug 23rd
Reply

Abdullah ÖZDEMİR

good

Jul 30th
Reply

Rasa Chiras

where are the new episodes??

Jan 18th
Reply

Elephant Wig

for those who have been following radiolab as long as I have, new stuff resumes at 26:00

Dec 7th
Reply

Rick Lawler

qx

Oct 25th
Reply

Darrell Strickland

hands up don't shoot was based on a lie, and I have sneaking suspicion that mr. graham's case may've been as well.

Oct 1st
Reply

Wendy Bruder

that one guy was super obnoxious. even if I agreed with him, he makes it hard to want to support him due to his arguing tactics.

May 15th
Reply

Andrew Stimpson Gee

I agree with this guy. Don't use race.

May 3rd
Reply

Andrew Stimpson Gee

One is loud the other is factual

May 3rd
Reply

Brian Gilmartin

Great episode, until the last minute where they play an absolute assault on the ears to explain the insanely contrived and, frankly, dopey title of the episode.

Dec 18th
Reply

Andrea Cash

Wow.... this is a ferociously important to hear. Blum will not be regarded fondly by history.

Dec 11th
Reply

Adam Boarman

Yeah, the album thing might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was a big fail. It came off like you were just trying to fill time without really digging deep into any of the issues. I really liked the show when it focused on the judicial branch.

Dec 10th
Reply

Deanna Nace

something about the guy who asks all the questions in each episode is annoying to the point I think I'm unsubscribing.

Dec 4th
Reply

Philip-John Savidant

911

Nov 20th
Reply

Philip-John Savidant

high times Paris Hilron

Nov 20th
Reply

Philip-John Savidant

kkk

Nov 20th
Reply

jowan sebastian

Absolutely amazing series 1&2, the album series is a real shame.

Nov 18th
Reply

Zach Wiebesiek

worst idea making an album out of the amendments. ruined one of the podcasts.

Oct 26th
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