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We the People

Author: National Constitution Center

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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.
266 Episodes
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Justice Neil Gorsuch visited the National Constitution Center to celebrate Constitution Day and discuss his new book A Republic, If You Can Keep It. Justice Gorsuch, the Honorary Chair of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees, sat down with President Jeffrey Rosen to discuss his passion for civics and civility, the importance of separation of powers, what originalism means to him, and why he is optimistic about the future of America.This episode is a crossover with our companion podcast Live at America’s Town Hall — live  constitutional conversations held here at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and around the country — which is available wherever you get your podcasts.Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
Madison vs. Mason

Madison vs. Mason

2019-09-1201:00:471

James Madison and George Mason, both Virginian Founding Fathers, diverged on some of the biggest debates of the Constitutional Convention—including the proper distribution of power between national and local government, the future of the slave trade, and whether or not the Constitution should have a Bill of Rights. Exploring these debates and their impact on the Constitution – scholars Colleen Sheehan and Jeff Broadwater join host Jeffrey Rosen. They dive into the core of the constitutional visions and ideas of Madison and Mason.  Next Tuesday, September 17th, is Constitution Day – the anniversary of the signing of our constitution back in 1787. To learn more about the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Day programming, including the launch of our upgraded Interactive Constitution, visit constitutioncenter.org/learn.  Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
What are “nationwide injunctions”? When and why are they issued by federal courts? Have they been invoked more frequently in recent years, and, if so, how is that affecting how laws or executive orders are implemented nationwide? And is the term “nationwide injunctions” itself actually a misnomer? Two experts on these broad kinds of injunctions, Amanda Frost of American University’s Washington College of Law and Howard Wasserman of Florida International University, answer those questions. They also detail how nationwide injunctions have been used to block policies of both President Obama and President Trump – including immigration policies like DAPA and DACA under President Obama, and the so-called “travel ban” and third country asylum rule under President Trump – as well as civil rights policies like President Obama’s protections for transgender students using bathrooms that match their identities and President Trump’s ban on people with gender dysphoria serving in the military. Jeffrey Rosen hosts.Questions or comments about the show? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
The upcoming Supreme Court case New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. the City of New York could be the first major Second Amendment case in almost a decade. It centers around a New York City regulation prohibiting residents from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns are unloaded and separated from ammunition. New York’s NRA affiliate and some gun-owning residents challenged the regulation, but, in the midst of litigation, New York City changed it – raising the question of whether the case was now “moot”. And, Senate Democrats filed a controversial brief addressed to the Supreme Court warning that they might pursue structural reform of the Court if they don’t like the outcome in this case. Detailing the twists and turns of the case and its potential impact on the Second Amendment – Adam Winkler of UCLA Law School and Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute join host Jeffrey Rosen.  Here’s some vocabulary that may be helpful to know this week:  Mootness: A case becomes moot if the conflict, or the law at issue, that was present at the start of litigation no longer exists.  Judicial review doctrines: A judicial review test is what courts use to determine the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance. There are three main levels in constitutional law:  Strict scrutiny: For a law to survive a court’s review under strict scrutiny, it must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interestIntermediate Scrutiny: A level down from strict scrutiny. The law must be substantially related to an important government interest.Rational basis review: The most deferential kind of review to the legislature. A law only has to be “rationally related” to a “legitimate” government interest. Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

2019-08-2201:01:561

The Lincoln-Douglas debates — the historic series of seven debates which pitted Abraham Lincoln against Stephen Douglas as they vied for an Illinois Senate seat — began on August 21, 1858. In honor of that anniversary, this episode explores the clash of constitutional visions that characterized the debates between Lincoln and Douglas. Each man argued that he was the heir to the Founders’ legacy as enshrined by the Constitution, as they battled over slavery, popular sovereignty, the nature of rights, and the future of the union. Historians Sidney Blumenthal and Lucas Morel trace the constitutional visions and political rivalries of Lincoln and Douglas from the Kansas Nebraska Act to the Dred Scott decision, through the Civil War and the passage of the Constitution’s Reconstruction amendments. Jeffrey Rosen hosts.  Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George F. Will returned to the National Constitution Center earlier this summer to discuss his new book, 'The Conservative Sensibility', a reflection on American conservatism. He sat down with National Constitution Center President Jeffrey Rosen for a wide-ranging conversation, sharing his thoughts on everything from natural rights and the Declaration of Independence through the Woodrow Wilson presidency and up to the Roberts Court.  This episode originally aired on our companion podcast, Live at America’s Town Hall.  Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
In early August 1787, the Constitutional Convention’s Committee of Detail had just presented its preliminary draft of the Constitution to the rest of the delegates, and the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists were beginning to parse some of the biggest foundational debates over what American government should look like. On this episode, we explore the questions: How did the unique constitutional visions of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists influence the drafting and ratification of the Constitution? And how should we interpret the Constitution in light of those debates today? Two leading scholars of constitutional history–Jack Rakove of Stanford University and Michael Rappaport of the University of San Diego School of Law – join host Jeffrey Rosen. Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org. 
President Trump can no longer block people on Twitter, following a ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court held that because President Trump controls access to his @realdonaldtrump Twitter account and uses it for official government purposes, it is a public forum and, under the First Amendment, he cannot block people solely based on their viewpoints. Katie Fallow – one of the lead attorneys who represented the blocked Twitter users in the case – and David French, senior writer at National Review and former First Amendment litigator, debate the merits of the decision as well as its potential impact on future cases. They also explore a similar lawsuit recently filed against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by people claiming that she unconstitutionally blocked them on Twitter. And, they explain how the Second Circuit’s decision may impact government attempts to regulate social media. Jeffrey Rosen hosts. Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
July 19 was the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the nation’s first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. This episode explores what happened at the historic convention, and how its legacy shaped the Constitution through the fight for women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment and, later, landmark gender equality and reproductive rights cases, including Roe v. Wade. Gender law and women's rights scholars Erika Bachiochi of the Ethics & Public Policy Center and Tracy A. Thomas of the University of Akron School of Law join host Jeffrey Rosen.Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
Justice John Paul Stevens—one of the nation’s oldest, longest-serving, and most-revered justices—passed away at the age of 99 on Tuesday. On this episode, we remember the man, the justice, and some of his most influential majority opinions and dissents. Two of Justice Stevens' former law clerks, Daniel Farber of Berkeley Law and Kate Shaw of Cardozo Law, share some favorite memories from their clerkships and commemorate Justice Stevens’ life and legacy in conversation with host Jeffrey Rosen. Questions or comments about the podcast? Email us at podcast@constitutioncenter.org.
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Comments (4)

Nonya Bizness

episode #231: there is a huge constitutional and statutory difference between trump, or any president, declaring an emergency AND THEN reallocating funds to address the emergency, versus declaring an emergency IN ORDER TO reallocate the funds. also, the word 'emergency' might be defined as an unforeseen negative event requiring urgent action. no one can rationally say that any aspect of the southern border issue currently meets the definition of an 'emergency'. trump has been unchanging in his assessment of the border for three years. data clearly shows a decades-long downward trend in border crossings. so objectively, any issue with crossings at the border is not unforeseen, is decelerating, and is already being addressed by cbp in an orderly, effective way. lastly, whether or not emergency powers or the constitution itself authorizes the president to appropriate an emergency fund to build a military structure, and whether or not the the wall could be considered a military structure, when one takes into consideration the theories behind both the posse comitatus act and, in particular, the third amendment to the constitution, it would seem that the seizure of land to build a wall is on very shaky ground. the third amendment explicitly prohibits the military from even temporarily occupying private property during peacetime, so it would seem to clearly prohibit the permanent seizure of it for military use. the example given, of funds appropriated for barracks being constructed, would be assumed to take place on foriegn soil, not on american land, and most especially not on private property. for a national emergency declaration used to apprpriate wall money to be constitutional, it may be that, at minimum, a war on mexico would have to be declared.

Jan 26th
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Nonya Bizness

episode #221: it seems to me the original issue is that whether sessions quit or got fired. if fired, trump cannot constitutionally appoint a replacement. sessions was carefully cryptic in his 'resignation letter', saying "at your request, i am submitting my resignation". in any other context, we know that to be a forced resignation- i.e. being gracefully fired. if debated, my question would be, why did sessions phrase it such? a usual, voluntary resignation would leave of sessions's key words "at your request" for clarity's sake. sessions is a lawyer, and knows that words and the constitution matter.

Dec 2nd
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Jeffery H

Great debate on birthright citizenship in "We The People" podcast fm National Constitution Center! But how often does immigration position pre-determine belief in constitutionality of birthright citizenship? Post-hoc reasoning and confirmation bias is the enemy here

Nov 26th
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Jeffery H

Amazing podcast "We The People" episode on The AG and Constitutional Oversight from National Constitution Center. Very sad & scared important info like this doesnt get more interest

Nov 26th
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