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The Constitution Video Series
issues come to life in this Emmy Award-winning series. Key political,
legal, and media professionals engage in spontaneous and heated debates
on controversial issues such as campaign spending, the right to die,
school prayer, and immigration reform. This series will deepen
understanding of the life and power of this enduring document and its
impact on history and current affairs, while bringing biases and
misconceptions to light. Produced by Columbia University Seminars on
Media and Society.
Privilege and Delegation of Powers
Can the President's conversations with advisors remain secret when
Congress demands to know what was said? Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski,
former President Gerald Ford, and Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox
bring first-hand experience to this topic.
2. War Powers
and Covert Action
If the president, as commander in chief, decides to declare war, can
Congress restrain him? Debating the issue are Gerald Ford, former CIA
deputy director Bobby Inman, former secretary of state Edmund Muskie,
Election, and Succession of the President
A tangled web of issues is involved in electing a president. Edmund
Muskie, former presidential press secretary Jody Powell, party
officials, and others discuss the role of political parties, the
electoral college, and what to do if a president becomes disabled.
Justice and a Defendant's Right to a Fair Trial
Should a lawyer defend a guilty person? This and other questions are
debated by Bronx district attorney Mario Merola, former New York mayor
Edward Koch, CBS News anchor Dan Rather, and others.
5. Crime and
Is a psychiatric evaluation precise enough to be allowed as testimony in
a court of law? U.S. Court of Appeals judge Irving Kaufman, Hastings
Center president Willard Gaylin, and others discuss the use of
psychiatry in law.
6. Crime and
Cruel and unusual punishment, from overcrowding in prisons to the death
penalty, is debated by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Arthur Alarcon,
Federal Bureau of Prisons director Norman Carlson, government leaders,
civil libertarians, and journalists.
Do limits on campaign spending infringe on First Amendment rights?
Political consultant David Garth, Washington Post columnist David
Broder, Bill Moyers, and others explore the issues.
Security and Freedom of the Press
What right does the public have to know about national security issues?
Former CIA director and secretary of defense James Schlesinger, former
attorney general Griffin Bell, and others debate the issue.
Prayer, Gun Control, and the Right To Assemble
A series of events embroils a small town in First and Second Amendment
controversies. Featured are Griffin Bell, former secretary of education
Shirley Hufstedler, and civil liberties counsel Jeanne Baker.
10. Right To
Live, Right To Die
Gloria Steinem, Joseph Califano, Rep. Henry Hyde, Phil Donahue, and
others discuss the right to make intensely individual decisions about
dying, abortion, personal freedom, and privacy.
The rights of legal and illegal aliens to employment and to medical and
educational services are debated by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Arlin
Adams, Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, and immigration
officials and journalists.
Action Versus Reverse Discrimination
Are quotas based on sex or race unconstitutional? Participants include
Ellen Goodman, former EEOC chair Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington
Post columnist William Raspberry, and United Federation of Teachers
president Albert Shanker.
How much power the federal government can wield over state and local
affairs is debated in this final episode. Among those featured are
Senators Orrin Hatch and Daniel Moynihan and Columbia University
professor Diane Ravitch.
Democracy in America Video Series
Democracy in America Web Site
This program offers
15 half-hour video programs, print guide, and web site. You can view the
videos free online on the Annenberg/CPB web site and they are also
available on DVD. Democracy in America covers topics
of civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions recommended by The Civics
Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress developed
by the U.S. Department of Education. The 15 half-hour video programs,
hosted by national television correspondent Renée Poussaint, and related
print and Web site materials provide both cognitive and experiential
learning in civics education. Produced by the Educational Film Center,
Making Government Work
introduces basic concepts of government, politics, and citizenship. It
explores the tension between maintaining order and preserving freedoms,
the essential role of politics in addressing the will of the people, and
the need for citizens to participate in order to make democracy work.
Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?
examines the search for balance between the original Constitution and
the need to interpret and adjust it to meet the needs of changing times.
It explains the original Jeffersonian-Madisonian debate, the concept of
checks and balances, and the stringent procedures for amending the
U.S. v. the States
explores federalism as a Constitutional compromise, especially in terms
of present-day conflicts between people who believe that power should
reside primarily in the national government and those who want
government authority retained within the states.
Liberties: Safeguarding the Individual
examines the First, Fourth, and Sixth Constitutional Amendments to show
how the Bill of Rights protects individual citizens from excessive or
arbitrary government interference, yet, contrary to the belief of many
Americans, does not grant unlimited rights.
5. Civil Rights:
looks at the nature of the guarantees of political and social equality,
and the roles that individuals and government have played in expanding
these guarantees to less-protected segments of society, such as African
Americans, women, and the disabled.
Laying Down the Law
explores the idea that legislatures, although contentious bodies, are
institutions composed of men and women who make representative democracy
work by reflecting and reconciling the wide diversity of views held by
7. The Modern
Presidency: Tools of Power
shows that the American Presidency has been transformed since the 1930s.
Today, presidents are overtly active in the legislative process: they
use the media to appeal directly to the people and they exercise
leadership over an "institutional presidency" with thousands of aides.
A Controversial Necessity
reveals how the American bureaucracy delivers significant services
directly to the people, how it has expanded in response to citizen
demands for increased government services, and how bureaucrats sometimes
face contradictory expectations that are difficult to satisfy.
9. The Courts:
Our Rule of Law
examines the role of courts as institutions dedicated to conflict
resolution, with the power both to apply and to interpret the meaning of
law in trial and appeal courts. It shows the increased power of the
Supreme Court through its use of judicial review and the difficulty of
creating a judiciary that is independent of politics.
10. The Media:
explores the media as an integral part of American democracy,
highlighting the scrutiny they impose on the performance of public
officials, the interdependence of politics and the media, and the power
the media wields in selecting the news.
Opinion: Voice of the People
examines the power of public opinion to influence government policy, the
increasing tendency of public officials to rely on polls, and the need
to use many forms of feedback to get an accurate measure of public
Parties: Mobilizing Agents
shows how political parties perform important functions that link the
public to the institutions of American government. Parties create
coalitions of citizens who share political goals, elect candidates to
public office to achieve those goals, and organize the legislative and
executive branches of government.
The Maintenance of Democracy
explores the crucial role of strategy in the two-stage electoral
campaign system; the opportunities for citizens to choose, organize, and
elect candidates who will pursue policies they favor; and the need for
campaigns to increase voter turnout by educating citizens about the
importance and influence of their vote.
Groups: Organizing To Influence
shows how America’s large number of corporate, citizen-action, and
grass-roots interest groups enhance our representative process by giving
citizens a role in shaping policy agendas.
Politics: U.S.A. and the World
examines the need for the United States to use the tools of foreign
policy in ways that recognize the growing interdependence of nations —
implementing both traditional and new forms of military, trade, and
diplomatic strategies to promote benefits for America and the world as a
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