the Constitution USA Documentary BBC Documentaries 2016

the Constitution USA Documentary BBC Documentaries 2016

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[Music] this looks awesome it means everything to us we Revere the Constitution and for good reason what it was written in 1787 it was revolutionary an owner’s manual for a new nation setting up an entirely new form of government it’s like the Big Bang it’s the most momentous thing to happen in the modern world but more than two centuries later many of us don’t have any idea what the Constitution says yeah of course that’s never started and arguably about what it Amina I’m Peter sagal and I’m taking a journey across the country to find out how the Constitution works in the 21st century I think the federal government had just grown too big for his britches and it’s just time to roll some of that authority back first time I’ve ever done it for my life in this episode we call ourselves the United States of America but just how United are we the framers of the country wanted to build a strong central government while preserving the powers of the state one more Oh miraculous so they designed a way to share the power an innovative system with a boring name federalism I thought it was at me who’s confused but apparently everybody’s pink I want to find out whether this arrangement still serves us well today this is one thing the federal government it right and how it’s changed over two centuries of crisis and conflict new busybodies want to come into my house my bathroom Wow you could call this country and violently and sometimes grudgingly cooperative state but that would be hard to fit on a court [Music] hi welcome to won’t where Hurley Gennaro right on Peter how are you – I’m glad you’re here it could use some help great so I need a motorcycle excellent what do you can do with it I’m gonna write it around America long way we’re going to go coast to coast north to south so I need something that’s both good for going long distances and well bespeaks the national spirit excellent the constitution is all around us binding in this country together but if I’m going to track it down I’m going to need to cover a lot of ground now this is a 2012 Road King as a foreign frame 103 inch motor yes these transmissions right has the third peg which will hold anything you want to put in them right so I can put my copy of the Constitution in there that’s important cluding the preamble oh this is yeah this is top of the line is all these vents in here which is nice he has action back seat a little more flexibility I’m feeling sort of like a tortoise right now do I look and United spent some time together so I trust you do I look like a dork you’re so conceited yes no I’m not you’re not and you’re not on a bike so if you’re gonna with dorky but when you’re on the bike and all beard off you like answer that guy you think so safe is safe in a sexy I’m going to practice my searching look and I watched some what you think a fact is were searching for the Constitution all right one more eyebrow here we go I was like yeah man emissions go for it this is the one let’s do it let’s do it [Music] [Music] [Music] my quest begins in Northern California it doesn’t look like one but this place is a constitutional battleground where the delicate balance between state and federal power is going up in smoke the family farm what could be more American it’s what the founders had in mind and this is a great one you have a couple over here but growing their crop for a long time bring it to market the problem is this is cannabis it’s medical marijuana now here we are in Northern California in the Emerald triangle and this is perfectly legal here the owners have been very scooped ulis about following California state law makes it cool however under federal law this is a terrible crime and at any minute really federal authorities could appear here and arrest everybody sees all this and send them all to prison 225 years ago we approved and created a document that created the system States federal government sometimes they work together sometimes they’re in conflict this is the conflict is it legal is it illegal is it both at the same time [Music] the marijuana they grow in that bucolic little farm ends up in a place like this is that going to be all today it’s the Harborside Health Center in Oakland California and every day hundreds of people come here to legally get their medicine this is the dispensing area here Steve – Angela Harborside co-founder and executive director has created a sleek scientific apothecary what are the typical things that people would go to a doctor for to get cannabis prescribed in California it ranges anywhere from cancer HIV multiple sclerosis cerebral palsy really serious diseases like that to more ongoing diseases that may not be so acute but are chronic I created Harborside Health Center to serve as a model to demonstrate how cannabis could be professionally distributed this is where our concentrates are stored in alphabetical order starting with Afghani Bullrider bubble we have thousands of varietals of cannabis and each varietal is laboratory tested 16.7 4 percent THC experiencies SP proven kind of mango things going on you sound like a wine guy this is all very professional in retail I mean if you’re selling toothpaste you’d be lucky to be doing it this well absolutely you know I want the Harborside brand to scream legitimacy sorry I’m standing here with a tray full of marijuana plants that’s never happened before it may never happen again this is great this is beautiful we obviously have an amazing system for distributing medical marijuana everything you just showed me is in violation of federal law that’s true isn’t that a problem yeah it’s a huge problem I you know I spend my life terrified basically I don’t know when I come to work in the morning whether I’m going home at night or whether somebody’s going to take me out of here in handcuffs it seems like you’ve got a classic issue of state power versus federal power going on here because you exist in different spheres depending on whether ya Halla for Nia North America well it’s really crazy as a Californian I’m considered a respected citizen Harborside paid over three million dollars in taxes last year we are one of the top ten tax payers in the City of Oakland and the number two retail taxpayer in this city an economic empowerment zone yeah but under the laws of the United States I’m a criminal deserving of the death penalty I really death penalty want death penalty for every 60,000 cannabis plants that you possess or distribute you can receive the death penalty I’ve distributed well over a million of them it seems crazy how can the state of California and the federal government be so at on is this what the founding fathers had in mind [Music] from what I’ve heard if you have a question about the Constitution the man to see is Akhil Reed amar of Yale University he’s like the Yoda of constitutional law man hi hey how you doing fine I’ve been wandering around looking for the Constitution I’m told it’s in here it is I’m where it is you have it hidden it’s everywhere well here’s here’s one this looks very bad really this was like a personal battered sure I have a whole bunch of personal really not these I think yeah how often I get well my saltine crackers but here’s another bet this oh this talk about battered there you go Wow now that is battered that that is one that has been duly legislated I think some what is your attitude about the original document my view of the founding is the following it makes everything possible it’s actually the most democratic deed in the history of planet earth it’s that impressive the world will never be the same it’s the hinge of history I divide history between the millennia that happened before 1787 and then 200 years since it’s like the Big Bang the momentum of this revolutionary moment bringing a people together to govern themselves will ripple out and give us in the world that we all live in today okay so the Constitution is a turning point in history but what were we turning away from what came before and why did it need to change before the Constitution comes along each state is basically almost its own nation and that the thirteen states are connected together by a loose treaty a league an alliance kind of like NATO or the EU Akhil is talking about the Articles of Confederation that was the first framework for American government it was drafted back in 1777 during the American Revolution and it was so loose that they actually called it a League of friendship as if the states weren’t really committed they were just friends the Confederation Congress couldn’t levy taxes and even raising an army was a challenge it had to beg the states for contribution in fact it couldn’t do much of anything unless at least 2/3 of the states were in agreement and with this crowd agreement was not a common occurrence when the Constitution comes along and proposes an indivisible Union and like why would you go for that the states had been colonies for decades in some cases centuries before the American Revolution they were separate one from the other there’s huge differences in miles huge differences of culture between Georgia and and Massachusetts really were they’re that different because you think of them as being a common language you think of them thousand miles apart very different religious denominations it would be as if today honestly the only counterpart would be if someone actually proposed genuine world government with an army of the world and a president of the world and the legislature of the world and there’s only one thing that would could make you go for that today and that’s if the Martians were coming I was about to say the classic alien invasion that and you might say well we don’t love the Chinese but they are Homo sapiens and so okay we’re in that was the argument 200 years to questions Martians are the Brits and the French ears with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton say in effect we won the American Revolution by this much we almost lost it tonight it was a triple bank shot to win at Yorktown in August and if we don’t get our act together we’re going to lose the next war but if we can create one indivisible nation we will control the continent we will be free and no one will be able to push us around so with our young nation on shaky ground the state sent their best and brightest representatives to Philadelphia they came to fix the Articles of Confederation and also to make sure the two hundred years later this city would have a booming constitutionally themed tourist trade every smile general done will look severe here we go one more one more excellent oh yeah one two three this is the place where it happened back in 1787 Independence Hall where the delegates our founding fathers the framers of the Constitution gathered to well to do what exactly to find out I’m meeting with historian Richard Beeman who literally wrote the book on the Constitutional Convention as best we know yeah it’s it’s it’s south to north right South Carolina Georgia Maryland North Carolina Delaware Virginia and here’s a Massachusetts or New Hampshire delegations who called the convention who decided was there an individualís that we must gather together well a group of delegates from the Continental Congress most notably Alexander Hamilton and James Madison they had seen the ways in which the government under the Articles of Confederation had put this fragile Union in danger right the lack of the power to tax a deepening debt nine states had their own navies Shay’s rebellion in Massachusetts so there’s civil unrest people gradually rising up against Everman that’s right so they really do have a sense of of crisis that they’ve got to do something to strengthen this government so how soon into the beginning of the deliberations did they arrive at the consensus that it wouldn’t be enough to fix the Articles they needed to scrap them and start again this is James Madison’s great strategic fly he had come to the convention with his own plan that he worked on much of the spring of 1787 and that plan called for a scrapping of the Articles altogether and the creation of in their words a supreme national government with a supreme legislature executive and judiciary and that set the tone for the debate from that time on they deliberated in secret with the windows and doors closed to prevent leaks the arguments and debates seceded before summer months in a room without ventilation air-conditioning or indoor plumbing and everybody was wearing wool vests and they managed to create a whole new form of government never before have so many owed so much to people who smell so badly Madison’s goal of creating a strong central government net stiff opposition at the start because the states didn’t want to lose their powers and autonomy besides they didn’t really trust each other the slave states of the south were suspicious of the free states up north and a big state like Virginia could step on a small one like Delaware on its way to have a beer with New York and never notice it took weeks of rancorous debate just to come up with a plan for how the states would be represented in the new Congress but they finally forged a compromise in the house there would be representation based on population giving more power to the larger state but in the other chamber each state would have two and only two senators so in one house the states would have power proportional to their size and the other all would be made equal try stepping on Delaware now once they finished hammering it out the new Constitution created a government that was very different from the one at replaced under the Articles there was no chief executive now there would be an elected president and there would be a federal judiciary – with the Supreme Court unlike the old Confederation Congress this new government would have the power to raise an army on its own and levy taxes to pay for it all it could issue currency control foreign trade and regulate commerce among the several state that is interstate commerce it could also make all laws necessary and proper to carry out its assigned powers and the framers added what we call the Supremacy Clause federal laws would trump state laws but by listing the government’s powers the framers of the Constitution also limited them they said this is what the government can do and no more the states would have their own police force control election run their schools make and enforce their own laws as they saw fit so while the federal government could say raise an army and invade Canada if it like it couldn’t arrest people for littering or give them a Parkington [Music] the framers were striving for a balance of power did they come up with the perfect compromise that is one that makes absolutely everyone unhappy there’s two conflicting points of view that the Constitution created a limited federal government that can only do things XY and Z the enumerated powers or the Constitution was intended to create an enormous leap our federal government can you resolve that in terms of the intent of the framers no a lot of good you are not nor could they because that was their fundamental dilemma they did not want to create a government of enormous power but they did want to create a government of with real energy to stitch together a permanent union the framers forged the delicate balance between the federal government and the state but there was another source of tension it would end up hitting one group of states against another and a bitter struggle for the nation’s soul less than 75 years after the Constitution was drafted the Union and the Constitution itself faced collapse as the nation expanded and new states were added the opposing interests of north and south three states and slave states were finally impossible to resolve for the southern states the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 was intolerable Lincoln’s opposition to slavery convinced them that they would lose their grip on power and that their whole way of life was at risk their response was to secede from the union Lincoln insisted that secession was illegal unconstitutional he called it the essence of anarchy he believed the union was perpetual that it could not be broken so he led the country into war in order to save four years of brutal conflict left three-quarters of a million Americans on both side dead far more than in any other conflict in our history but with the end of the Civil War slavery was abolished and the idea of federalism had emerged victorious 150 years later fortunately the Union remains intact but the tug-of-war over power is still going on not with guns anymore but often about guns [Music] I’ve come to Missoula Montana to talk to Gary Marvin hi he is one of the country’s most outspoken advocates for gun rights you’ve got to be Peter I am Peter sagal pleasure to meet you good meeting Eric welcome to Montana it’s a pleasure to be here my god it’s beautiful let me show you around please this is the rifle I shooted long-range precision rifle huh competitively right and this is the ammo I was telling you about that I manufacture for I say this is the man owns like six bicycles but why does a man need so many rifles because I live in Fontana up here Gary heads the Montana shooting sports association a lobbying group that pushes for state laws on behalf of gun owners so guns have become your overriding passion is that right I got involved in all kinds of things political I was involved in property rights and tax limitation all Liberty oriented yeah so I decided then I was going to have to focus on that one aspect of freedom which I thought was most important most cornerstones and whole concept of Liberty when when you write them push down and then back as they say when in Montana do as the Montanans do and apparently what Montana and sue is practiced defending themselves from an invasion of cardboard people [Music] first time I’ve ever done this in my life are you ready I’m ready standby button down below please okay this one costs you an extra 10 points for winging the good guy frankly they were asking for what are they doing out here I some crazy middle of shooting gun we shouldn’t be sorry here should be getting to exactly don’t they’ve seen the right movies apparently I don’t know you just told me that based on your own research the average or average gun owning family in Montana has 27 guns yes so this is a gun owners paradise and we are here under the Federal Constitution and everything is fine so what’s the problem no problem there’s no problem life is good so why are you working so hard to change things no I’m working to improve things Guerry marbet has made a name for himself by fighting the power of the federal government to regulate firearms surprisingly he’s not focusing on the Second Amendment of the Constitution the right to bear arms instead he’s targeting the Commerce Clause that bit about Congress regulating interstate commerce Gary insist the federal government has distorted the meaning of the Commerce Clause and he hopes to correct that with what he calls the Montana buckaroo that’s a 22 caliber single-shot bolt-action rifle designed to give young Montanans their first case firearms Gary believes that if his buckaroo rifle is made in Montana and sold only in Montana never crossing state lines the federal government has no power to regulate it she’s even managed to get his plan enshrined in Montana state law give me a little bit of your background you’re not a lawyer by training no I’m not all right but you’ve had how many laws passed by the Montana State Legislature 5858 is there stuff that you want to do as a free American that you feel the federal government is keeping you from doing well we have the right to bear arms but we can’t get them without government permission and it’s definitely government permission means to to lanius firearms dealers to manufacture not distribute to sell retail yeah to do any of that stuff you need federal permission yeah I think the federal government has just grown too big for his britches and has assumed far more authority than has ever been attended and it’s just time to roll some of that authority back and turn that many of the things federal government does over to the states why do you think that it’s more appropriate for the states to have the power the state government is much more subject to the will of the people because it’s closer to the people right so I think it is less hazardous to the people’s liberties right the states are not mere political subdivisions of the federal government they’re not it was never intended to be that way the states were there first the states were the originators of the federal government they were ones that gave it as charter with a specific duties and specific restraints and so I don’t think that by some theory or wish you can change that to to suddenly make the federal government the master and all the states the servants Guerry marbet wil tell you he’s not coming up with a new idea here that it’s the original notion behind the Constitution and many Americans including Steve D’Angela agreed as a federal government to just leave the states alone in fact federalism does give the state’s a lot of freedom to do their own thing [Music] Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the state’s Laboratory laboratories of democracy experimenting with innovative programs to solve social and economic problems in their own ways and if they succeed those programs are often copied by other states or even by the federal government itself for instance back in 1869 the Wyoming legislature gave women the vote eventually other states followed suit and then the whole country caught up with the passage of the 19th amendment that gave all women the right to vote [Music] California led the nation in enacting tough standards on air pollution and the federal government applied similar regulations nationwide in health care the program enacted in Massachusetts under governor Mitt Romney served as a model for what we call Obamacare the Affordable Care Act you might not think Las Vegas as one of these laboratories of democracy but it kind of is it’s conducting an experiment in freedom Nevada set out on its path of innovation back in the 1930s it passed the most liberal marriage and divorce laws in the country making it a big draw for people who wanted to get hitched or unhitched in a heart it is legalized gambling giving rise to a lucrative casino industry it’s also the only state of the union where prostitution isn’t prohibited for Nevada legalizing vice paid off then was a great stimulus program but even if Nevada can go its own way it can’t go with a loan don’t forget most of the state of Nevada including Las Vegas is a desert making that Desert Bloom takes water lots of it and if you want to see where that water comes from just get on your customized Harley and write 35 miles east of Las Vegas to the banks of the Colorado River [Music] everybody seems to be trying to figure out what the founders could or could not have imagined though the founders never could have conceived this oh the founders never could have imagined that all right I’ll play I’m willing to say that if they could see it the founders never would have believed that that is Hoover Dam at the time of its completion in the 1930s it was the largest most massive concrete dam ever built the most expensive public works project ever undertaken in the United States of America to this day provides hydroelectric power to Southern California it provides 90 percent of the water to Las Vegas millions of gallons for their fountains in their lawns so it took the Pharaohs to build the pyramids we know that to glue to the 14th to build Versailles but it took the duly-elected constitutionally empowered federal government of the United States of America to build Hoover Dam to the people who run Hoover Dam it’s a lot more than a pile of concrete it’s a metaphor for how the federal government improves our lives we’re in Nevada right now right correct all right so why didn’t avada come here and build their own dam bam you have to remember back in the turn of the century up until the 30s Nevada and Arizona had a very small population a very small economy they didn’t have the ability money-wise or technical ability to build this so they couldn’t have done it there now but you guys living in you need power the federal government right and and yet at the same time Nevada has grown tremendously we correct that the growth of Arts in Nevada Phoenix LA San Diego due directly to the power and water we provide right so you give tours here do your gettin any arguments about federalism issues with anybody else sure I won’t call it argument a discussion people talk about how the federal government shouldn’t do this but my opinion this is one thing the federal government it right is right up there with the Louisiana Purchase in the purchase of Alaska it’s a federal issue interstate commerce growing the economy of the United States what hell how could you get even more constitutional than that that’s the basic power of the federal government [Music] this super-sized expression of federal power came into existence during a national crisis I’m talking about the Great Depression the early 1930s a time when the economy had collapsed and the country very nearly collapsed along with [Music] more than a quarter of the workforce wasn’t working banks were closed factories and businesses shut down the cities and states went bankrupt unable to believe the sufferer unemployed veterans marched on Washington they battled federal troops in the street some said the country was on the verge of a violent revolution then in 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt came into office and he launched his own revolution a great experiment she called the New Deal for 150 years the federal government had pretty much let the economy manage itself FDR changed he pumped money into the economy to try and stimulate growth and release poverty and he started massive federal building projects to put people back to work among women who are unemployed are our problems we must help to get them back to reemployment as Roosevelt nursed the economy back to health he created an alphabet soup of federal agencies there was now an economic safety net an old-age pension system called Social Security unemployment insurance the FDIC to insure bank deposits of course it did not happen without controversy and opposition some people called FDR a communist and said his programs were a threat to personal liberty and a few of his pet projects were even declared unconstitutional but the expansion of federal power and the federal bureaucracy became a fact of American life then in the 1950s the federal government began to use that power to protect people’s rights [Music] it only rarely bubbles up how frightened we were the mob is here yeah did you pull up right here in front of the school yeah about here yeah and Elizabeth the girl was in all the photos we got off the bus and tried to walk I remember shaking completely and because they’re screaming kill them lynch them just horrible T I’ve never been hated in my life either before or said on September 4th 1957 when nine black students tried to enroll with Central High it was blocked by protesters the governor of Arkansas sent in the National Guard to keep those nine kids out of the school President Dwight Eisenhower was ambivalent about enforcing civil rights he felt that states should deal with the issue but the Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 in Brown versus Board of Education that school segregation violated the Constitution and Eisenhower was determined to enforce the law he federalized the Arkansas National Guard his prerogative as commander-in-chief taking them out of the hands of the governor and on September 24th he ordered the deployment of a thousand US Army troops from the hundred and first Airborne to provide security for the nine black students and those students were escorted to class every day one of the nine students was minnijean Brown now minnijean Brown tricky and one of the soldiers who kept her safe was a 23 year old lieutenant named Marty Sammon there she is yay many genes how would you two people how are you for you my god I hope you didn’t get you got a taller and I got smaller are you high young ladies how are you I’m a fancy meeting you here yeah in that time spent a little time here I think Marty my number one fan right I’m kidding of a definite definitely when I first met him I think I started crying which is something I’ll do when I need to because he symbolized something very important to me yeah and Marty you were the tip of the spear right you were sent here by the federal government what was it like for your soldiers and for the guys in your unit to be pointing their guns at American citizens that was what they were ordered to do there was really no compunction they were only going to find whatever is the order that they just stood together and it was you could you covered me I cover it nobody touches these kids but that’s what it’s going to be when we got out in front of the school the troops just surrounded up did they say anything to you like minnijean where the were from the government over here to help I think somebody probably said someone under governor wear a veil yeah to the foul links of armed men rifles and bayonets surrounded us and came up the steps with us and walked right into the front or not in the back like Marcus oh please be right up that’s the most beautiful thing it was a pretty good feeling yeah did you feel like did you feel well how did you feel um well I mean I was 16 yeah I felt like look at me now you know it felt like revenge it felt like well it felt like not revenge but it felt like resistance and that’s really key that these people are helping me to do what I came to do I came to go to the school [Music] [Music] looking back now the decision to send in the troops seems like the right one sometimes the federal government has to get involved to resolve a crisis or protect the civil rights of its citizens but where do you draw the line between federal help and federal interference my buddy PJ O’Rourke a journalist and political wit will definitely have an opinion about this there’s a temptation to go to the federal government to solve every problem that comes up the federal government’s a big tool right really powerful really effective one you know I mean it is just a locomotive good for invading other countries absolutely building large data but you know when you’ve got a problem it’s always tempting to use the largest tool possible and then like tool ya know men like big powerful tools and we don’t have to get Freudian about this you know you give a man a cordless electric drill you get holes all over your house and but once you create something long after the problem has gone away the institution that you created to solve that problem remains and so once you create a center of government power and privilege it’d be impossible to not have the danger of the government being a little bit too big a little bit too expensive maybe a little bit too intrusive [Music] okay thank you all for coming welcome today’s witnesses we’re here today to talk about bill s 398 the bill would increase or establish new efficiency standards for nearly 20 types of appliances in March 2011 there was a constitutional showdown on Capitol Hill in an Energy Committee meeting Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky charged that federal regulations violated his freedom to choose a toilet and he had some choice words for the bureaucrats who write those regulations I really find it troubling this busybody nature that you want to come into my house my bathroom my bedroom my kitchen frankly my toilets don’t work in my house and I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house what I can do I can help you find a toilet that works are you going to pay for it everything costs more to go back and retrofit the toilets that don’t work that no bureaucrat understood or flushed before they made us use them do busybodies always want to do something to tell us how we can live our lives better keep it to yourselves is Rand Paul right is the federal government going too far or do federal regulations like these observe a purpose I need to talk to a toilet expert Sheryl Crowder at the Thomas Somerville shoulder this one is a dual flush and you’ll notice up here it has two little buttons yeah the smaller button will flush 0.8 gallons of water this larger one 1.6 gallons you need a real like rush of water can you press both and get like super flush sure does that not work that way now it’s still going to flush the safety but is the maximum installed 1.6 gallons yes it is interesting so this law was passed in 1992 and it decreed that any toilet sold after a certain date in 1994 would have to be 1.60 Oliver flushed there was a period of time in which toilet technology hadn’t yet caught up if you were one of those unlucky people who renovated your bathroom or built a new home you were stuck with an inadequate toilet that didn’t do its job and it really was the federal government’s fault yes and and I think for a lot of the consumers out there that was a tough time it was a tough time for us as retailers as well because you were selling told us that people didn’t really work for people right it says that there’s an exception for blow out toilets you get three point five gallons per flush under the 1992 law what is a blowout toilet and work and Rand Paul get one okay that’s that’s really a commercial toilet that’s not something that you would normally put in your home now so speak for yourself I’ve never got right seriously when you get right down to it Rand Paul may have a point because when it comes to regulations toilets are just the tip of the iceberg and here’s the iceberg the Federal Register contains all the rules and regulations issued by the federal government this is the 2011 edition eighty two thousand four hundred fourteen pages and it’s regulations delve deeply into our lives well beyond toilets for instance page twelve thousand five hundred twenty seven this regulation classifies milk as an edible oil so farmers are subject to rules on oil spills or how about this one from page twenty seven thousand five hundred forty three which makes it illegal for anybody but licensed dentists to transport another person’s dentures the expansion of federal regulations is largely based on a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause that’s the part of the Constitution that gives the feds power over interstate commerce when people complain about the federal government sticking its nose into their business it’s almost always laws drafted under the Commerce Clause that they’re complaining about and if you spend much time listening to congressional debates on the subject you’re likely to hear these three words Wickard versus filburn Wickard V filburn it started with Wickard V filburn they’re talking about a Supreme Court case involving an Ohio farmer named Roscoe filburn it was the middle of the Great Depression and farmer filburn was looking for a cheap way to feed his livestock so he planted 23 acres with wheat and that’s when the government set Dan Majerle eye to shore up wheat prices the federal government had played limits on production and Roscoe filburn wheat crop exceeded those limits by exactly 239 bushels so they hit him with a hundred and seventeen dollar fine but filburn insisted he was growing wheat just for his own use and for his hungry animals and that it never entered into Commerce at all much less interstate commerce the case ended up in the Supreme Court which found against Roscoe filburn the justices held that even though by this particular farmers briefs did not enter the market growing his own meant he was refraining from buying wheat from somebody else and if lots of other farmers around the country did the same thing it could drive down wheat prices and that would say interstate commerce that decision came down in 1942 and it opened the floodgates to federal regulation of anything remotely related to commerce the precedent of Wickard V filburn has served as the legal underpinning for federal laws covering everything from labor standards to consumer protection to endangered species and it was at the center of the debate over the Affordable Care Act in the spring of 2012 the Phil Byrne case is the outer reach of the Commerce Clause [Music] so Roscoe filburn had a barn EW I owe exactly much like this one what did Wickard V filburn do in terms of like the broader relationship of people to the federal government well once the federal government can reach inside until even a farmer like Roscoe how much we can grow to feed his own livestock then the federal government seems to be able to tell you to do anything and that’s not the power originally the federal government had it was the states that could basically regulate your activity and so that really changed the relationship of the citizenry to the federal government so here’s my question that you your concern I know is with Liberty the idea that we have rights that we have Liberty that that the government cannot take away from us but it does seem to matter to you which government does it yes there are things that the state government you do and you’re cool with that if the state government wants us to know I may not be cool with that you’re not cool that maybe depends what it is but why we need a division is because once you go to the national level and it’s one size fits all for the whole country and you don’t like that where you going to go anywhere if you’re an individual going to go where your business and go I got to leave the country but if you’re doing at the state level and you don’t like that no just go across the state line do it some point different over there in other words the ability to exit the ability to leave the ability to vote with your feet yeah is a constraint on what local governments can do once you go to the national level and it’s one size fits all for the whole country and you don’t like that where you’re going to go so Randy Barnett insist that the federal government is constraining personal liberty by making decisions for everyone at once yet some people believe just as strongly that there are times when only the federal government can be trusted to make the right choices Jody Freeman helped write environmental regulations when she worked for the Obama administration Jody and I are crossing the Golden Gate Bridge it was built with local money but it’s where a federal highway merges with a state highway and it connects the city of San Francisco with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area part of the National Park System perfect place to talk federalism so everybody’s been asking us what right does the federal government have to tell us what to do so what right does the federal government have to tell us what to do well it’s an interesting question you know actually the Constitution in some areas less the federal government tell us what to do and it’s not a bad thing right you sort of need it for something like what well for example when the federal government sets efficiency standards like they do for toilets or for appliances like your fridge a microwave or your light bulbs what they’re doing is they’re creating incredible games for the whole society so if you can actually put more efficient light bulbs in than you save a huge amount of money for consumers everybody’s electricity bills go down first and also we save a bunch of pollution that we caused by burning the energy to create the electricity and no one person again sort of has the incentive to do that and sometimes they lack the information to do it so that’s the sort of justification for the federal role in setting those kinds of standards but isn’t there a competing interest of Liberty let’s say a state like Kentucky has a lot of coal and it makes a lot of economic sense for them to burn their coal make their energy why shouldn’t they be allowed to save you think it’s more important to have coal that’ll create more pollution it’s our choice we’re free people why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that right and that’s your argument you hear a lot that the state should get to choose what level of protection a lot but the problem is that when you burn that coal and you produce sulfur dioxide and shit and smog that drips from Kentucky or the state you’re imagining to other states and you create a cross-state problem right and that’s the classic situation where you need the federal government to solve this cross state problem that individual states can’t solve themselves it seems like we’ve been having the same debate for 225 years trying to figure out who should win the tug of war between the states and the federal government the issues may have changed but the struggle for power just goes on and on isn’t it like the age-old argument who’s in charge here and have we ever resolved it I wouldn’t say we better ever resolved it finally and actually I hope we don’t because it’s the most healthy dynamic that we have in the Constitution and it produces a lot of good results so I actually think this debate is a good one the one you’re finding all around the country I think it’s a good one so when we ought to be having I think what’s fantastic about it is we’re having this in the context of a legal debate that is we’re concerned about what the law ought to be all you have to do is look around the world to places where that debate is taking place with arms and not taking place on the terrain of law to know that I think we’ve got a system that works pretty well Jody Freeman makes an interesting point that despite all the tension the system still works in fact the tension might be part of the system like a lot of things this reminds me of an old Jewish joke there’s this particular congregation that’s tearing itself apart over an argument should you sit or should you stand during a particular prayer they’re arguing it about it constantly they’re insulting each other families are like refusing to speak to each other it’s terrible the rabbi doesn’t know what to do but he finds out that the oldest living member of the congregation is down the road at the home for ancient Hebrews so he goes down there and he finds the old guy and he says sir isn’t the tradition in our congregation that we rise during this prayer to show our respect to God and the guy says no that’s not the tradition the rabbi says oh so it must be the tradition then that we remain seated during the prayer to show our humility the guy says now that’s not the tradition and the rabbi is very upset he says but there we has to be an answer because we’re tearing ourselves apart an argument nobody can get along because of this fight and the guy says aha that’s the tradition I guess arguing is an American tradition – and we never seem to run out of things to argue about but somehow it works after all the framers of the Constitution didn’t promise us a perfect union just a more perfect union we all cherish our right in different ways that is the sound of freedom but what happens when our rights come into context look at those justices in black robes feel a property right to someone the majority rules or it should and how is modern technology changing our freedom is privacy a thing of the past next time on Constitution USA with me Peter Sagan teachers need real information right now join me John Legend and some of America’s leading thinkers teachers policymakers and students for Ted’s first ever television show TED talks education next only on PBS to learn more about the Constitution business a series website at slash Constitution USA Constitution USA with Peter sagal is available on DVD to order please visit or call 1-800 place [Music] [Music] the motorcycle if you’re riding in a bike down the highway you know where you are you’re there you’re in America that is some paint job let me tell you that is a motorcycle which speaks America and every way you can so we are all set we have a fantastic american-made motorcycle we have had it customized we have put on the magic invocation of we the people in the gas tank we’ve painted in the right colors we’ve got the matching saddlebags we’re going to put the executive branch in this one we’re going to put the legislative branch in that we’re going to drive it judiciously protected by the balance of powers all that we need to do is attach the appropriate protective gear because they don’t know what’s going to find and then we are going to start our engine and head off in a search to the United States Constitution you

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