History

Constitutional

The Washington Post

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With the writing of the Constitution in 1787, the framers set out a young nation’s highest ideals. And ever since, we’ve been fighting over it — what is in it and what was left out. At the heart of these arguments is the story of America. As a follo...Show More

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Episode 03: Nationality

48:46 | Aug 14th, 2017

What makes someone American? A landmark Supreme Court case in 1898, involving a child born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrant parents, would help answer that question.

Ourselves and our posterity

56:04 | Feb 12th, 2018

In the "Constitutional" finale, we address listener questions about the history--and future--of the nation's governing document.

The First Amendment

53:31 | Jan 29th, 2018

Why do First Amendment rights trump nearly every other right in America? Thank Jehovah's Witnesses.

Privacy

46:40 | Jan 15th, 2018

How should the Constitution's privacy protections be translated for a new technological era? This is a question before the Supreme Court today, but it was also a question that captivated a justice appointed to the Supreme Court 100 years ago — Louis ...Show More

Prohibition

54:38 | Jan 1st, 2018

The passage and then repeal of the 18th Amendment, banning alcohol in America, highlighted the pitfalls of trying to legislate against vice.

Taxes

43:41 | Dec 18th, 2017

In overhauling the tax code, Congress today faces the same question it faced a century ago when creating the modern tax system: What kind of society should America be?

Episode 12: The common defense

50:57 | Dec 4th, 2017

One intention the framers had when creating the U.S. Constitution was to “provide for the common defense.” But who shoulders that duty has not always been so clear.

Episode 11: War

42:44 | Nov 20th, 2017

What was the original point of the Second Amendment? We examine its colonial and revolutionary roots—plus its quiet companion, the Third Amendment—with renowned American history scholar Gordon Wood.

Episode 10: Love

40:08 | Nov 6th, 2017

The words "marriage" and "love" appear nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. Yet 50 years ago, the Supreme Court issued a decision that would embed those concepts in the heart of the document itself.

Episode 09: Fair punishment

52:28 | Oct 23rd, 2017

"There is so much feeling of racial injustice around the issue of punishment. And you have to understand that those feelings have a history -- and that history is Parchman Farm."

Episode 08: Fair trials

47:59 | Oct 9th, 2017

In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that states must offer a defense attorney to all poor people accused of crimes. It was a decision that transformed the concept of fair trials in America, but that still left major challenges to...Show More

Episode 07: Congress and citizens

40:20 | Sep 25th, 2017

Is it a feature or a bug of the amendment process that an idea of James Madison's, more than 200 years ago, could be recently resurrected and etched into the U.S. Constitution?

Episode 06: Senate and states

46:47 | Sep 11th, 2017

When the United States changed its process for electing senators, did that lead to a decline in state power? Or did it instead bring us closer to a "more perfect union"?

Hear ye! Hear ye!

02:02 | Sep 4th, 2017

Now that we've concluded our mini-series exploring "we the people," we're moving to a biweekly schedule, with brand new Constitutional episodes coming out every other Monday. Stay tuned!

Episode 05: Gender

50:03 | Aug 28th, 2017

From the American Revolution through today, women have been leading a long-burning rebellion to gain rights not originally guaranteed under the Constitution.

Episode 04: Race

53:00 | Aug 21st, 2017

As powerful as it was to change the Constitution after the Civil War, and enshrine racial equality into our governing document, that wasn’t enough to change the reality of life in America.

Episode 02: Ancestry

42:07 | Aug 7th, 2017

This "we the people" episode explores indigenous rights. In 1879, a case involving Chief Standing Bear came before a Nebraska courtroom and demanded an answer to the question: Are Native Americans considered human beings under the U.S. Constitution?

We the people

02:22 | Jul 31st, 2017

In the next set of episodes for Constitutional, we’ll focus on four groups of people who have gained rights that weren’t originally there in the Constitution.

Episode 01: Framed

1:04:37 | Jul 24th, 2017

In the premier episode of “Constitutional,” we go back in time to that hot Philadelphia summer in 1787 when a group of revolutionary Americans debated, drank and together drafted the U.S. Constitution. Episode guests include historian Erica Dunbar, N...Show More

The preamble

03:36 | Jul 17th, 2017

In order to form a more perfect podcast, we created this overview of what you can expect from "Constitutional" when it launches July 24.

Introducing 'Constitutional'

04:50 | Jun 29th, 2017

Preview The Washington Post's newest podcast, a narrative series about the revolutionary figures who shaped America's story. Subscribe now to get the first episode when it launches July 24.