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Ep. 192 - The Ninth Amendment show art Ep. 192 - The Ninth Amendment

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

The Ninth Amendment might seem a bit confusing at first glance.  To understand its massive significance requires some insight into what the Founders were thinking.  Think of the Bill of Rights not as granting rights to the people but rather restricting what the government can and cant do in the lives of its citizens.  To wit, it would be impractical to list every right a citizen has and as such the rights specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights should not be viewed as a limit to those rights.  Helping us and our all-star student panel grasp the importance of this...

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Ep. 191 - The Eighth Amendment show art Ep. 191 - The Eighth Amendment

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

Once again, the Founders showed their preference for brevity with the 8th Amendment.  It is actually the shortest of all the amendments but packs a wallop in just 16 words!  In this week’s chat, we are discussing the elements of the 8th Amendment: protections against excessive bails and fines and protections against cruel and unusual punishments.  We answer what is a cruel and unusual punishment, who decides the standard by which punishment is deemed legal or illegal, how does this relate to “death-eligible” crimes in the application of the death penalty and...

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Ep. 190 - The Seventh Amendment show art Ep. 190 - The Seventh Amendment

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

As we discussed last week, the Sixth Amendment guarantees a trial by jury in a criminal trial, among other guarantees.  The Seventh Amendment guarantees a trial by jury in federal civil cases for disputes over $20. Why were the Founders so adamant about jury trials as opposed to a single judge?  What is the difference between a civil or common law trial and a criminal trial?  What are the exceptions to a trial by jury?  And how does this apply and function in conjunction with state law? Alongside our student panel, we are delighted to welcome Eric J. Wise, partner at Alston...

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Ep. 189 - The Sixth Amendment show art Ep. 189 - The Sixth Amendment

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

A criminal trial has the potential to permanently alter the rest of one’s life.  Punishments can range from fines to imprisonment to execution.  This gives the government tremendous ability to impose penalties on its citizens.  The Founders understood this and laid out criteria under which criminal trials would proceed.  Under the Sixth Amendment, trials are speedy and fair, juries are impartial and Congress cannot take any of these rights away from the accused.  We are delighted to have joining our all-star student panel Paul J. Larkin, Senior Research Fellow at the...

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Ep. 188 - The Fifth Amendment show art Ep. 188 - The Fifth Amendment

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

The Fifth Amendment really packs a punch. Think about the Constitution like this: the body of the Constitution created the new government and the Bill of Rights immediately put constraints on that government’s power. The Founders had a natural skepticism and nervousness about governmental power especially when it comes to the prosecuting of criminal activity.  The Fifth Amendment lists 5 significant restraints on government: indictments by a grand jury, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, guarantees of due process and protects private property through the Takings...

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Ep. 187 - The Fourth Amendment show art Ep. 187 - The Fourth Amendment

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

The Fourth Amendment provides two specific protections: protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and requirements for when a warrant can be issued.  At only 54 words, the amendment continues the Founders’ penchant for brevity and leaves room for interpretation through the courts. How do we define what is unreasonable and probable and how has this standard changed over time?  At one point the United States Supreme Court said a search had to involve a physical trespass onto your property.  Obviously that standard has changed due to wiretaps and...

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Ep. 186 - The Third Amendment: Is It Relevant Today? show art Ep. 186 - The Third Amendment: Is It Relevant Today?

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

At first glance, in a contemporary view, the Third Amendment may seem like a relic from the founding era of our country.  Today, it would seem strange for the military to require homeowners to house and feed soldiers.  We think it just would not happen. Perhaps the certainty around it not happening today should be attributed to the Third Amendment’s success: being so unambiguous and precise when it was written.  Join our all-star student panel and returning guest Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, for this insightful discussion on this...

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Ep. 185: The Second Amendment: Can a Governor Issue an Executive Order to Restrict Gun Rights? show art Ep. 185: The Second Amendment: Can a Governor Issue an Executive Order to Restrict Gun Rights?

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

Last month the governor of New Mexico issued a temporary public health order restricting the carrying of firearms in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.  The bipartisan pushback against this order was swift and she later amended the order to only apply at parks and playgrounds.  From where, if anywhere at all, did the governor derive such a power?  Does this conflict with the second amendment and laws that allow for carrying of firearms?  This is the topic we are discussing today.  Joining our all-star student panel, we are honored to have John R. Lott, Jr., President...

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Ep. 184 - The First Amendment & Government Intrusion in Social Media show art Ep. 184 - The First Amendment & Government Intrusion in Social Media

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

Free speech in the First Amendment protects us from government censorship but not private censorship.  This means the government cannot censor your speech but a private entity such as a newspaper does not have an obligation to publish your speech. Continuing this analogy, are social media companies more like a newspaper where they can pick and choose which speech to publish or more like a telephone company where they allow all speech regardless of content to use their infrastructure?  What happens when the government wants to stifle otherwise free speech, but doesn’t have the...

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Ep. 183 - Justice In The Supreme Court show art Ep. 183 - Justice In The Supreme Court

Constitutional Chats Presented By Constituting America

Court with lifetime appointments.  They decide the most pressing issues of federal law.  Did you know the Court regularly receives over 7,000 annual petitions for a case to be heard, but only accepts 60-70 cases per year?  Did you know the 9 justices get to decide which cases they hear?  Did you know the justices employ a few dozen law clerks to help them work through their caseload? Our guest today has the incredible accomplishment of clerking for not just one Supreme Court Justice but two, and a third justice before he was elevated to the Supreme...

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Regular followers of Constituting America understand the importance of this passage from the Declaration of Independence and our natural rights: rights given to us by God that can never be taken away.  But take this a step further and you see how these inalienable rights begin to create our system of justice.  Without natural rights, rights become merely a privilege and can be taken away…justly or unjustly.  We are delighted to have Dr. Jason Stevens, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Ashland University, joining our all-star student panel as we dig deeper into our natural rights to find our foundation of justice.