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Constitution USA With Peter Sagal

Airs Tuesdays, Jan. 3 & 17, Wednesday, Jan. 18 & Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” travels cross-countr...

Credit: Courtesy of Christopher Buchanan/Insignia Films

Above: Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” travels cross-country on a customized Harley-Davidson to find out what the Constitution means in the 21st century.

CONSTITUTION USA WITH PETER SAGAL takes viewers on a fast-paced, surprising journey across the nation to examine the 4,418 words — and 27 amendments — that made America.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Christopher Buchanan/Insignia Films

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” travels cross-country on a customized Harley-Davidson to find out what the Constitution means in the 21st century.

Citizenship Quiz

To become a citizen of the U.S., prospective Americans must demonstrate their knowledge of basic American history, geography, and the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship. How many questions can you answer about the Constitution of the United States? Take the quiz!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Peter Krogh

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” in Washington, D.C.

Game: Do I Have A Right?

In Do I Have A Right?, you’ll run your own firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law. You’ll need to decide whether potential clients “have a right,” and if so, match them with the right lawyer. The more clients you serve and the more cases you win, the faster your law firm will grow! Can you think on your feet? You're going to have to!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rahoul Ghose/PBS

During PBS’ CONSTITUTION USA with Peter Sagal session at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday, January 14, 2013, executive producer Catherine Allan, director Stephen Ives, featured scholar Dr. Richard Beeman and series host Peter Sagal discuss where the U.S. Constitution lives, how it works and how it doesn’t.

Game: Branches Of Power

Do you like running things? Branches Of Power allows you to do something that no one else can: control all three branches of government! You'll have the power to write any laws you want about issues you choose. Careful, though, there's a lot to juggle when you're playing all three branches. Good luck!

Breathing new life into the traditional civics lesson, Peter Sagal (host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me”) travels across the country on a Harley Davidson to find out where the U.S. Constitution lives, how it works and how it doesn’t; how it unites us as a nation and how it has nearly torn us apart.

Sagal introduces some major constitutional debates today and talks with ordinary Americans and leading constitutional experts about what the Constitution actually says and what it means, the dramatic historical events and crises that have defined it, and why all this matters. The series coincides with the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution.


Episode 1: "A More Perfect Union" repeats Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 11 p.m. - Sagal explores the Constitution’s most striking and innovative feature: its resilient brand of federalism. The framers created a strong national government while preserving much of the power and independence of the states.

This delicate balance of power, seemingly hard-wired for disagreement and conflict, has served America well for more than two centuries. But it has also led to tensions throughout American history and still sparks controversy today over medical marijuana, gun control and “Obamacare.”

Episode 2: "It's A Free Country" repeats Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 11 p.m. - Ask Americans what the Constitution’s most important feature is and most will say it’s the guarantees of liberty enshrined in the Bill of Rights. In this episode, Sagal explores the history of the Bill of Rights and addresses several stories — ripped from the headlines — involving freedom of speech, freedom of religion and right to privacy.

Episode 3: "Created Equal" repeats Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 11 p.m. - The high ideals of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” didn’t make it into the Constitution in 1787. It took three-quarters of a century, and a bloody civil war, before the Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 made equality a constitutional right and gave the federal government the power to enforce it.

The far-reaching changes created by that amendment established new notions of citizenship, equal protection, due process and personal liberty. Today, those notions are being used to fight for same-sex marriage, voting rights, affirmative action and immigration reform.

Episode 4: "Built to Last?" repeats Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 11 p.m. - In this last episode, Sagal travels to Iceland, where after the country’s economic collapse, leaders decided to create a new constitution, looking to the U.S. Constitution for inspiration. This prompts Sagal to consider why our own founding document has lasted more than 225 years.

He looks at the systems that have kept the Constitution healthy — amendments, judicial interpretation, checks and balances — and also at the political forces that threaten to undermine the framers’ vision: excessive partisanship leading to gridlock, money in politics and gerrymandering.


Does the Constitution have what it takes to keep up with modern America? Hit the road with Peter Sagal to find out. Premiering May 7.

Why have an "indivisible union"?

Yale Professor Akhil Amar gives us a quick background of *why* founders were interested in creating an "indivisible union" in the first place. Why the "United States" instead of the Articles of the Confederation. For more about CONSTITUTION USA WITH PETER SAGAL, visit

The Framers and Slavery

In this clip, Stanford University professor and historian Jack Rakove discusses how the framers of the Constitution could have allowed slavery to remain a part of the country, even as they wrote about the merits of liberty.

Same Sex Marriage

Lawyers Ted Olson & David Boies explain why they're arguing for the right for same-sex couples to marry. They say the 14th amendment's equal protection clause awards equal rights for all citizens, regardless of sexual preference. CONSTITUTION USA WITH PETER SAGAL airs Tuesdays, May 7-28, 2013 on PBS. For more information visit:

Government Interference

Steve DeAngelo, director of Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary, expresses his beliefs that states should have the power to create and enforce their own laws without interference from the federal government. CONSTITUTION USA with Peter Sagal premieres Tuesdays, May 7-28, 2013 on PBS. For more information visit:

Making Changes Without Changing the Constitution?

When the Equal Rights Amendment didn't pass, Title IX changed the future for women.

Separate but NOT Equal

Visit Little Rock Central High School and learn how the federal government helped integration.

What are the duties of the U.S. president?

Historian Rick Beeman shares some insight behind the creation of the office of U.S. President and explains why the role's duties are hardly touched upon at all in the Constitution.

Congressional Gridlock, can it be good?

Yale professor Akhil Amar talks about Congressional gridlock. Did the framers have this in mind when they drafted the Constitution? Can gridlock be good?

Behind the Scenes with CONSTITUTION USA

Go behind the scenes with CONSTITUTION USA and see what it was like making the series.

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