NPR's Peter Sagal undertakes a cross-country motorcycle trip to explore the relevance of the Constitution in modern America, starting with federal power vs. states' rights. Among the issues addressed: medical marijuana, gun control and Obamacare. The journey stops in Arkansas, where a Little Rock Nine member recalls the federal government's role in desegregating Central High School; and Montana, where a gun activist argues that the federal government has usurped powers that belong to the states.
The freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights are examined through several high-profile stories, including that of a father of a fallen soldier who sued Westboro Baptist Church members for protesting his son's funeral; and a Rhode Island high-school student who sued to remove a prayer banner from her school auditorium. Also: the Fourth Amendment and privacy are explored with Jennifer Granick (Stanford Law School), private investigator Efrat Cohen and Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray.
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.