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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: What's the Constitution mean to you?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | May 3, 2013 12:58 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Monday, May 6:

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Does the Constitution have what it takes to keep up with modern America?

Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me hit the road to find out. Sagal traveled across the country by motorcycle in search of where the U.S. Constitution lives, how it works and how it doesn't... how it unites us as a nation and how it has nearly torn us apart.

The four-part series, CONSTITUTION USA, premieres May 7 at 9 p.m. on witf-TV.

Stephen Ives, director of Constitution USA appears on the first segment of Monday's Radio Smart Talk to tell us more about the film.

Then we'll be joined by Dr. Richard Beeman, a trustee of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to discuss the document itself and what it does or doesn't do and what it means to Americans.  That's a question we'll pose to the audience as well -- what does the U.S. Constitution mean to you?

Another question -- if you could enact a 28th Amendment to the Constitution, what would it be?


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  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-05-06 07:05

    The Constitution is to me a faulty promise unfulfilled.

    When those men set out to establish the ground rules for a government not based on a monarchy they did not, perhaps could not imagine a truly democratic form of government in which the empowerment actually resided in the people.

    The patriarchy was too strong...the plutocracy too strong for them to overcome those implanted attitudes forming their views of "new" gov't.

    So what they wrote as an outline of the type of gov't they envisioned was not flawed because of compromises by recalcitrant members of certain States, but flawed deeply because it did NOT embrace a more egalitarian rule.
    As consequence, because of this flaw, the Federal gov't grew in power and eventually a monarchy was re-established with huge investment of power in the one prevailing head of state.

    A 28th Amendment...?
    A special election in which every other seat in Congress MUST be female (50/50 S, 218/217 H, F/M) and that balance maintained at all times...the same Amendment would also mandate term limits, and establish an independent oversight commission to Congress with strengthened judicial power for immediate punishment for wrongdoing in office, end paid lobbying in DC, and dictate that only public funding could be used for campaigning.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-05-06 08:31

    Email from James;

    I think that a good 29th amendment would be terms limits for all federally elected individuals as well as dissolving the Electoral College.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-05-06 08:40

    Email from Lee, York

    The thing about people's understanding of the Constitution that amazes me the most is when people say that "What the Supreme Court did was unconstitutional". It's always been my understanding that the Supreme Court actually defines what is constitutional.

  • Alan Chack img 2013-05-06 08:42

    The beauty of the American Constitution is in the possibility of addressing wrongs, the probability that with time wrongs can be righted, and the potential to achieve a greater guarantee of equal rights for all without recourse to war.

    As to the next amendment: there should be an amendment stating that all rights of individuals granted to citizens, men, shall not be abridged nor denied to anyone based on their gender, sex, and that any reference to "man" or "men" does not exclude women or other genders from equal rights and equal protection by national or state law. Although there is an equal rights amendment still awaiting the required state approvals, we need a straightforward interpretation of the words in the constitution that denies gender specific language.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-05-06 08:45

    Email from Marty:

    When I think of the U.S. Constitution, my mind automatically drifts to thoughts of the Nixon years…in my humble opinion, President Richard M. Nixon had a very low regard for the U.S. Constitution and it was the strength of the U.S. Constitution itself that enabled our nation to endure some of the actions of President Nixon and particularly in the final hours of his Presidency…

    As for a new Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I believe that we need to carefully think through this concept… there are many special interests and politicized or politically charged issues at present and I believe that we need to be doubly careful that we do not proceed in a reactionary mode with regard to amending a document that has stood the test of time… I personally do not see any amendments on the horizon that would enhance the U.S. Constitution… as in any endeavor, I believe that we need to stick to basics…

  • anonymous img 2013-05-06 08:50

    I reject the idea of the Constitution as a "living document." True, it may grow like a plant, or it may be healed, like a sick person. But we should not take the words as written and use them to "read into" the document something that the founders did not mean or address. If we don't like what it says, or we disagree with what the founders intended, or if we think it's vague, we should *amend* it.

  • anonymous img 2013-05-06 08:55

    I would also like to point out that the Constitution does not grant us rights, with one exception. The rights it references were assumed by the founders to pre-exist; the constitution imposes restrictions on the government, against infringing on those rights.