What's the difference between the House and the Senate? How do congressional investigations work? What is Federalist X actually about? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.
nhpr, civics 101, governmental, contextualized, prescott, informative episodes, government works, chief of staff, timely info, great refresher course, post office, think i know, us government, govt, one critique, like to think, political science, social studies, brush, political junkie.Listeners of Civics 101 that love the show mention:
From the Presidential Oath of Office to the Oath of Allegiance to Sworn Testimony, Americans take an awful lot of oaths. Today we explore the history of oaths in the US, the linguistic tinkering that's happened to oaths of office over the last few centuries and the repercussions of breaking an oath.For anyone interested in a deeper dive into the Pledge of Allegiance and the American flag, as well as how statutes regarding them and your First Amendment rights have intermingled, check out our earlier episode here.Also, we have trivia! 8 new questions each week tied to our most recent episode! Click here to test your civics knowhow. And for a more relaxed bit of quizzery, we have a daily worldle too.
In 1968, a raucous Democratic nominating convention was overshadowed only by the shouts outside to end the war. This is the story of how eight different protestors from very different walks of life ended up before an increasingly indignant judge and walked away scot-free -- but not before putting on a good show. Our guests are Victor Goode of CUNCY School of Law, Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation and Jeanne Barr, history teacher at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago.
The presidential veto is a powerful tool, but just how powerful it is depends on political context, timing, and party alignment. We'll pull back the curtain on the origin of the veto, how it works, and discuss moments when vetoes have had a real impact on our history. And yes, we'll even find out what the deal is with that pen. Our guests are Dr. Gisela Sin of the University of Illinois, and Ken Kato, a former historian at the U.S. House of Representatives. Do you love our work? Make a donation to support it!Want to get our newsletter? Sign up right here!
In preparation for the upcoming midterms, we talk about lies. This is the true story of the fake world created in disinformation campaigns. The voting populace spreads it like there's no tomorrow, without ever knowing what's real. We tell you what it is and how to avoid it. Our guests today are Samantha Lai of the Brookings Institute and Peter Adams of the News Literacy Project.If you believe in what we're doing (and think it's true!) consider donating. It really does speak your truth.
The House and the Senate have mostly the same powers: they both propose and vote on bills that may become law. So why does the House have 435 members, and the Senate have 100? Why does legislation have to pass through both sides, and what kinds of power do each have individually? And finally: what role do you, as a voter, play in ensuring that Congress, and your Congressional delegation, is working in your best interests? This episode features the opinions of former staffers from both chambers, Andrew Wilson and Justin LeBlanc, former member of the CA assembly, Cheryl Cook-Kallio, CNN political analyst, Bakari Sellers, and the inimitable political science professor from Farleigh Dickenson, Dan Cassino.
Since its passage after World War I, thousands of people have been investigated for violating the Espionage Act, including Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, and Donald Trump. However, only two people have been executed for violating it during peacetime; Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. This episode features Anne Sebba, author of Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy, and Jake Kobrick, Associate Historian at the Federal Judicial Center. It explains the espionage act, the accusations against the Rosenbergs, the twists and turns of their trial, and their execution in 1953. Like our work? Click this link to support it with a donation today.
Know your candidates and causes, find your polling place, have a plan! There are plenty of small steps you can take to be ready for the midterm election. But if you want to know what they're about and why they matter? Look and listen no further. Keith Hughes (with some help from Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Dan Cassino) tells us the five things you need to know about midterms.
Today we're opening our new series on famous trials in the Federal Courts. In this case, United States v Burr, the judge and jury had to decide whether to convict former VP Aaron Burr for the crime of treason.Taking us on the journey are Christine Lamberson, Director of History at the Federal Judicial Center, and Nancy Isenberg, professor at LSU and author of Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. This trial has everything. Washington Irving, epaulets, a subpoenaed president, and a letter hidden in a shoe.
Since our nation's founding, the federal government has borrowed money from other governments, private investors, and businesses in order to operate. Over the last century, the debt ceiling, a Congressional cap on how much debt we can have, keeps getting higher and higher. We talk about how the national debt works, how it's been used as political leverage, and how that impacts the health of our economy. Louise Sheiner, senior economics fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Michael Dorf, Constitutional law professor at Cornell Law, help us make sense of trillions of dollars in debt.
Voting in America is not always straightforward, nor is its impact always clear. In this episode, we give you the basic tools to vote on Election Day, including tips for avoiding the roadblocks.And for those of you on the fence about exercising that enfranchisement, a word to the wise: your vote matters. Featuring:Kim Wehle, professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law Andrea Hailey, CEO of vote.orgCLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR AWESOME NEWSLETTER, EXTRA CREDIT!LOVE OUR WORK? Please donate to help us continue it! Click here to chip in.
The United States is a representative democracy. The idea is that we're a government "by the people" (we vote officials into office) and "for the people" (the officials in office are supposed to represent our interests). But it's not so straightforward around here. LOVE OUR WORK? Please donate to help us continue it! Click here to chip in.When you take that golden idea and add restrictive voter laws, billions of dollars, and a whacky electoral system, representation takes on a whole different hue. But...you should vote anyway. This episode explains why. Featuring:Nazita Lajevardi, assistant professor, political scientist, lawyer. Lajevardi teaches at Michigan State UniversityKim Wehle, professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law Andrea Hailey, CEO of vote.orgCLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR AWESOME NEWSLETTER, EXTRA CREDIT!
A few years ago, Civics 101 did a series revisiting the Declaration of Independence, and three groups for which the tenants of life, liberty, and property enshrined in that document did not apply. We bring you all three parts of that series today, and hear from legal and historical scholars about how Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, and women were excluded from our founding document, and how they responded. Find the series page here. Part 1: Byron Williams, author of The Radical Declaration, walks us through how enslaved Americans and Black Americans pushed against the document from the very beginning of our nation's founding.Part 2: Writer and activist Mark Charles lays out the anti-Native American sentiments within it, the doctrines and proclamations from before 1776 that justified ‘discovery,' and the Supreme Court decisions that continue to cite them all.Part 3: Laura Free, host of the podcast Amended and professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, tells us about the Declaration of Sentiments, the document at the heart of the women's suffrage movement.
It came after decades of discrimination, violence and disenfranchisement -- President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, "an Act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States." That Act worked. In the decades since, though, states and the Supreme Court have changed what that Act means and can do.Our guides to this sweeping legislation are Sonni Waknin of the UCLA Voting Rights Project and Gary May, author of Bending Towards Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy.
Today, after one of the busiest civics-related news weeks in history, we take a break to talk about some of the history and ephemera tied to Independence Day. We talk about dates, names, songs, food, and explosions in the sky.Here are some links to episodes tied to the 4th:Declaration of IndependenceDeclaration RevisitedIRL2: The Flag and the PledgeThroughline's episode on Becoming America
The National Parks Service has changed immensely since its days of keeping poachers out of Yellowstone. So has its approach to telling the story of America. Kirsten Talken-Spaulding of the NPS and Will Shafroth of the National Parks Foundation help us understand how this colossal system actually works and what it's doing to tell the true story of the United States.
The government issues IDs so we can prove who we say we are, and since the start, that's included an expression of binary (male or female) gender. Now, some states - and even the federal government - are starting to change that. LGBTQ+ reporter Kate Sosin is our guide.
Civics 101 teamed up with the Outside/In podcast to bring you the story of Happy, an Asian elephant living in the Bronx Zoo.Lawyers had petitioned the New York State Court of Appeals for a writ of Habeas Corpus; a legal maneuver that could have freed Happy and set a new precedent for animal rights. But in a ruling out mid-June 2022, the court decided: Happy isn't going anywhere. In this quick update to our previous episode (listen here if you haven't already) Hannah debriefs with Outside/In host Nate Hegyi on the 5-2 split decision, and what it means for the future of animal rights.
27 words which have been interpreted and reinterpreted by historians, activists, judges, and philosophers. What did the 2nd Amendment mean when it was written? What does it mean right now? And what happened in between?Today's episode features Saul Cornell, professor of history at Fordham University and author of A Well Regulated Militia, Alexandra Filindra, professor of political science at University of Illinois Chicago and author of the upcoming Race, Rights, and Rifles, and Jake Charles, lecturing fellow and executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law.
A leaked draft opinion in a Supreme Court case about abortion reveals that a majority of the justices were, at the time of this draft's release, in favor of overturning the precedent set in Roe v Wade that protected abortion access. In our recent episode on judicial precedent, we talked about how the Supreme Court interprets the law, and how precedent gives that interpretation power, ensuring the law is applied equally to everyone. We also talked about how and why the Supreme Court might reconsider, modify, or overturn its own precedent. In this episode, we look at how the draft opinion treats precedent, and how that differs from the way the Supreme Court has treated precedent in the past, including in decisions about abortion. And we talk about the impact this could have, should this draft opinion become final, both on the Supreme Court, and on society. We talk to Nina Varsava, a law professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison who studies judicial precedent, and wrote the article, "Precedent on Precedent," and Rachel Rebouche, a law professor at Temple University who specializes in family law, health care law, and comparative family law, and has written about the potential impact of overturning Roe v Wade. PS, want to score a cool new Civics 101 sticker and a $500 Airbnb gift card? Donate to the show! You'll support us and maybe you can go rent an idyllic cabin in Norway.
*Donate to our podcast in June, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a $500 Airbnb gift card, and you'll get a cool Civics 101 sticker. When the Supreme Court decides how the law, and the Constitution, should be interpreted in a case, that interpretation becomes a precedent. Once that judicial precedent has been set, it's understood that the interpretation and its reasoning should be applied to similar cases in the future. So why might the Supreme Court reconsider its own precedent? And what happens when a precedent is modified, or overruled? We talk to Nina Varsava, a law professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison who studies judicial precedent, and wrote the article, "Precedent on Precedent," and Rachel Rebouche, a law professor at Temple University who specializes in family law, health care law, and comparative family law, and has written about the potential impact of overturning Roe v Wade.
DONATE TO OUR PODCAST IN JUNE AND YOU COULD WIN A $500 AIR BNB GIFT CARD - PLUS YOU'LL GET A SNAZZY NEW CIVICS 101 STICKER! CLICK HERE TO DONATE.Happy has lived in New York City's Bronx Zoo for years. To visitors, she's a lone Asian elephant. But to a team of animal rights lawyers, she's a prisoner. They've petitioned state courts for a writ of Habeas Corpus; a legal maneuver that, if granted, would declare Happy a legal person who deserves to be freed. It's the latest case in an ongoing fight to extend basic human rights to animals – one that could have big repercussions in the natural world. Because this is a case that deals with animals AND the law, two podcasts from New Hampshire Public Radio have teamed up to take it on: Outside/In and Civics 101. We always hear about the animal rights movement… but what rights do animals actually have? Featuring: Maneesha Deckha and Kevin Schneider
The federal judiciary system has three steps: district court, circuit court, and the Supreme Court, and despite what you see on screen, many cases do not end with that first courtroom verdict. This is how the federal judiciary system works, what makes a case worthy of consideration by the Supreme Court, and what happens when case lands in front of SCOTUS. We talked with Erin Corcoran, Executive Director for the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies, and Behzad Mirhashem, Assistant Federal Public Defender in New Hampshire and professor of law at UNH Law. Listen to our breakdown of Tinker v Des Moines in IRL1: Free Speech in Schools.
A free press, ideally, learns what is happening in our democracy and passes that information on to us. How, then, do we learn the truth about this country when there's so much misinformation, so many opinions, claims of fake news and widespread mistrust of the truth?Joining us again for part 2 are Melissa Wasser and Erin Coyle.This episode first aired in October of 2020.
The only working-class job enshrined in the Bill of Rights, a free press is essential to the health of the democracy. The citizens deserve to know what's going on, so the framers made sure that news could be printed and information disseminated. But how does the press actually do that? Are they upholding their end of the bargain? What does the best version of the press and the news look like?Helping us report this one out are Melissa Wasser, Michael Luo and Erin Coyle.This episode originally aired in September of 2020.
The blocking of a majority-Black congressional district in Alabama. OSHA regulations requiring vaccinations or a negative COVID test result. A law in Texas banning abortions after six weeks. All of these controversial issues were decided not through the tried-and-true method of a hearing in the Supreme Court, but rather through a system called "the shadow docket," orders from the court that are (often) unsigned, inscrutable, and handed down in the middle of the night. Professor Stephen Vladeck takes us through this increasingly common phenomenon.
On May 2nd, 2022, Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion. A leak of this kind is unprecedented, but it is the subject of the opinion that shook the nation. In it Justice Samuel Alito, speaking for the majority, writes that the landmark 1973 abortion rights case Roe v Wade must be overruled. So what exactly is at stake here? This is the story of Roe v Wade and the state of abortion rights in the United States. The state of federal abortions rights as of May 2022, that is. The opinion is slated to be published in late June.
The land had been cultivated and lived on for millennia when geologist Ferdinand Hayden came upon the astounding Yellowstone "wilderness." It wasn't long before the federal government declared it a national park, to be preserved in perpetuity for the enjoyment of all. Ostensibly. How did Yellowstone go from being an important home, hunting ground, thoroughfare and meeting place to being a park? Megan Kate Nelson, author of Saving Yellowstone, Mark David Spence, author of Dispossessing the Wilderness and Alexandra E. Stern, historian of Native peoples and Reconstruction are our guides to this rocky start.
In the years after World War II, twelve countries in North America and Europe got together to form an alliance. This alliance, known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, would build up the collective military and security strength of every country involved - so an attack on one country would mean an attack on them all. How does a security alliance between dozens of countries with different governments, interests, and military power, even work? What role does NATO play in international war and peace today? Helping us answer those questions are Marla Keenan, an adjunct senior fellow at the Stimson Center, focusing on international security, including human rights in armed conflict, and the protection of civilians, and Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Europe Center whose research focuses on European security, NATO, and the transatlantic relationship.
Today we explain one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in modern history; the case that defined campaign donations as speech and therefore protected under the First Amendment, regardless of who made them. This episode explains the history of the case, PACs, Super PACs, the ruling, the effect of the decision on our campaign system, as well as some common misconceptions. Our guides through the case are Professor Jeff Bone from Saint Joseph's University, Maggie Severns from Grid, and Professor Hye Young You from New York University.
The United States Constitution gets a lot of credit for being the first of its kind. The progenitor of democratic constitution making. The spark that started a global fire. Is that the long and short of it, or is there more to the story? Linda Colley, author of The Gun, The Ship and the Pen, weaves a longer, more complex narrative in this episode. We explore why constitutions (governmental limits, citizens rights and all) became necessary and who put pen to paper before 1787.
Since 1935, the Senate has had a parliamentarian. Their job is to decide, in a truly nonpartisan way, how things operate in the chamber. Their power to decide what can and cannot be done when it comes to legislation, filibustering, motions, and points of order has grown ever since. Today, learn about this complicated and often-unseen role from Sarah Binder, professor at George Washington University, and a person who spent over thirty years in the office, former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin.
Long before we could decide and insist upon what they mean to us, a handful of powerful men had to put pen to paper. We're revisiting two episodes from our Foundational Documents series: The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. This is the story of how these now-indispensable documents came to be during a time when independence and unity was new and highly vulnerable.Our understanding and interpretation of these documents has grown and changed in the hundreds of years since they were ratified and in the three years since these episodes were released. Take some time to get reacquainted. Understanding how and why we work is a lifelong practice here at Civics 101.
Be it suspicion of voter fraud, fear of hackers or the general belief that something is amiss, legislators across the country have passed election laws designed to make our elections more secure. Those very same laws are widely criticized for making voting less accessible, especially to certain voting groups. So how insecure are our elections? What do election security laws really do? What is the best way to feel better about the state of elections in this country?Our guests are Jessica Huseman, Editorial Director of Votebeat and Justin Levitt, constitutional law professor and newly appointed White House Senior Policy Advisor for Democracy and Voting Rights.
Look up a definition of the Federal Reserve, and you'll see things like "central bank," "monetary policy," and "regulation and stabilization of the financial system." But what does it mean to have a national bank, and how does this government agency impact your ability to have a job, earn and borrow money, and afford things like groceries, rent, and pet food? In this episode, we'll explain how the Federal Reserve came to be, how it works, and how the actions the Fed takes influence our economy. Our guest is Louise Sheiner, policy director at the Brookings Institution's Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy. She spoke with Civics 101 in 2017. Want to learn more about the financial crisis of 2008? Here's some of our favorite resources: PBS has a list of documentaries about the crisis. Christina loved "Inside the Meltdown" from Frontline. "The Giant Pool of Money," from This American Life explores the housing crisis. Marketplace has a series of reports on the Great Recession, including its continuing impacts on today's economy.
In 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott were living in St. Louis, Missouri with their two daughters. They were enslaved and launched a not uncommon petition: a lawsuit for their freedom. Eleven years later Chief Justice Roger B. Taney would issue an opinion on their case that not only refused their freedom but attempted to cement the fate of all Black individuals in the United States. This episode is a broadcast special that aired across the nation on NPR, and is two parts: our episode on how the Supreme Court works, and part one of our series on landmark civil rights cases: Dred Scott v Sandford.
In the latest edition of our special series Civics at the Movies, we talk about the National Archives and how they're portrayed in the iconic film National Treasure. Is there really a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence? Is the security at the Archives really so high-tech? (Spoiler alert: no, and no.)Our guest is Jessie Kratz, historian at the National Archives and friend of the show.Sign up for our newsletter - it's free and it's fun! Click here to subscribe.
90% of proposed bills die in committee. What happens in there?? Today's episode consists of two parts. First, the Schoolhouse Rock definition of congressional committees (what they do and why we have them) and second, an exploration of money, power, lobbying, and a secret point system for deciding who gets to be on one. This episode features the voices of Dan Cassino, Professor of Political Science at Farleigh Dickinson University and Leah Rosenstiel, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.
The modern presidency includes giving upwards of 400 speeches a year. How does the president find time to do it? They don't. That's where the speechwriters come in. This is how the (ideally) inspiring, comforting, clarifying sausage gets made and former Barack Obama senior speechwriter Sarada Peri is giving us a peek behind the curtain.
From "top secret," like the names and locations of intelligence agents, to "confidential," like the drinking habits of a prime minister, the federal government has a lot of sensitive information. What are the different levels of security clearance, and how does it all work?Helping us untangle this web is Juliette Kayyem, professor of international security at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and national security analyst for CNN. She formerly served as Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.
When this episode was recorded, gasoline prices in the US averaged $3.28 a gallon. Stickers of President Biden saying "I did that" decorated gas pumps across the country. What handles, if any, does a president have to lower the price of gas? How responsible are they for high prices? Today we get to the bottom of the oil barrel with two specialists; Robert Rapier from Proteum Energy and Irina Ivanova from CBS News. They guide us through an economic, scientific, and historical analysis of the powers of the chief executive, from the 70s to now, to control the price of gasoline.
The Olympics are a global event. They take years of planning, negotiation and convincing -- not to mention billions of dollars -- to stage. This is how the games are used by the United States and others around the world. This is what it takes to host, what the games do for a nation and what it means when you refuse to attend. Welcome to the Olympics. Our guests for this episode are Jules Boykoff, professor of government and politics at Pacific University and author of several books on the politics of the Olympics, and Nancy Qian, Professor of Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences at Northwestern University.