Constitution USA With Peter Sagal
Airs Tuesdays, May 7 - 28, 2013 at 9 p.m. & repeats Sundays at 3 p.m. on KPBS TV
Thursday, May 2, 2013
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.
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!
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! Play now
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! Play now
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 One: "A More Perfect Union" airs Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9 p.m. & Sunday, May 12 at 3 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 Two: "It's A Free Country" airs Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 9 p.m. & Sunday, May 19 at 3 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 Three: "Created Equal" airs Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9 p.m. & Sunday, May 26 at 3 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 Four: "Built to Last?" airs Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 9 p.m. & Thursday, May 30 at 2:30 a.m. (Sunday repeat TBD) - 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.