ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In the "Constitutional" finale, we address listener questions about the history--and future--of the nation's governing document.
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00the Constitutional podcast is sponsored by WordPress go to wordpress.com constitutional to get 15% off your website today that's wordpress.com constitutional
00:00:13one summer evening in New York City Alexander Hamilton and James Madison went over to Thomas Jefferson's home for dinner it was 1790 so three years after the Constitution had been drafted and the new government of the United States was now underway
00:00:42New York City was the temporary capital during those years congress met at Federal Hall near the tip of Manhattan down by Wall Street and it was there that Madison who was now a congressman had recently proposed the first round of changes to the Constitution Congress had decided to pass ten of these suggested amendments known as the Bill of Rights
00:01:13Jefferson was serving as the country's first Secretary of State at the time and he was in charge of holding on to those four pages of parchment that the constitution was written on kid rented a house a couple blocks from Federal Hall on Maiden Lane if you looked down the cobblestone street from Jefferson's apartment you could see the tall ships docked at the seaport along the East River
00:01:41at dinner that June evening as the sun sank late over the rooftops and sailors tied up their boats along the Waterfront
00:01:51Hamilton and Madison tried to break a political impasse
00:01:57Hamilton now the treasury secretary wanted the national government to take over the States war debts so the Revolutionary War debts that each of the states had and that would have further Consolidated Federal power this was not a very popular idea among those in Congress who favored states rights and small-government but Madison was willing to help Hamilton out
00:02:26Madison was willing to Wrangle the necessary support for it if Hamilton and exchange could do Madison a fever he wanted help if using his fellow southern congressmen so he asked Hamilton to get on board with a plan for the new permanent capital of the United States to be near Virginia
00:02:50the dinner ended the last of the wine sets the summer Twilight turn to Dark Knight and the plan was set in motion
00:03:01by July the steel would become official from Federal Hall in New York City Congress passed a bill that authorized moving the nation's capital more than 200 Mi Southward the site picked by George Washington said at a fork of the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland
00:03:25the farmland and forested areas would need to be cleared the swampy areas drained and an entire city mapped out and then built up from scratch I miss mostly undeveloped hundred square miles of Earth it took a decade before enough of the groundwork was laying that Congress could hold its first official fashion there in a new city named after George Washington in a location that resulted from a bargain and on land belonging to know by state
00:04:03and it has been there in Washington DC in the halls and the chambers of the Capitol building that the rest of the proposals battles compromises and changes to the Constitution would play out
00:04:21I'm Lillian Cunningham with the Washington Post and this is the final episode of constitutional
00:04:52we the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union establish justice secure the blessings of liberty
00:05:26the day I went to the National Archives to tape the very first episode of constitutional it was late spring a blinking blue sky and you could already feel the DC humidity Rising I remember walking inside the archives
00:05:49I'm standing in the Rotunda looking into the glass cases at those four pages of parchment I remember seeing the words we the people up close and seen this enormous Banner hanging from the ceiling that listed the 11,000 amendments that members of Congress had proposed to the Constitution throughout history I remember standing there seeing all this asking some questions and thinking worrying really that I knew so little about what I was setting out to do
00:06:27what I was trying to do starting that day was to tell stories about some of We the People some of the people who profoundly shaped not just the words on those pages of the Constitution but the America that has sprung from those words
00:06:47after seeing those pieces of parchment in the archives we decided to document what it would have taken to make them talking about the way the animal skin is scrubbed and scraped talking about the way the parchment ultimately stretches and rebounds vibrates like a drum it seems like a nice metaphor then it was gritty poet now that I've reached the very last episode it speaks to me in an even true or deeper way
00:07:21in the month since the podcast began so many of those figures I didn't know very well back then have completely come to life for me people like Chief Standing Bear Wong Kim Ark Louis Brandeis Clarence Earl Gideon I now better understand the people who did the rough messy work that first gave the constitution in shape I can picture the people over time who pulled so hard at it fighting for the end of slavery or the right to vote or the right to free speech that the constitution in the end to the country looks like it might tear
00:08:02can I see how the effort of generation after generation has moved it out made it more supple
00:08:12that Banner with all the proposed amendments it turns out it was put together by a historian named Christine blackerby she used to work for the National Archives and now works as a researcher and curator at the Capitol Building she is one of the only people to have studied every single proposed amendment to the Constitution
00:08:38I've been thinking about that Banner ever since the first day and now that all the podcast episodes are over it seems like a great time to go visit Christine to fill in some of the remaining gaps many of you have listened along to this entire series and you reached out to me along the way to share questions that it has sparked for you they were incredibly thoughtful incredibly insightful questions and so this bonus episode this finale is yours I'm taking your questions to Christine so she can shed light for us on some of the Amendments that I didn't have a chance to cover myself so also go through some of those 11,000 proposals that weren't successful that you had questions about and hopefully she'll leave us with a richer sense of what all those efforts combined tell us about the ark
00:09:38change in America
00:09:41let's go now to talk with her in the home of Congress on Capitol Hill
00:09:49approaching the big white Dome of the Capitol building it's hard to imagine that this spot was once densely covered with trees and brush back when Hamilton and Madison made that deal to relocate the government here today the only treason site are ones that are perfectly planted along the landscaped lawn but their branches are all there right now it's February bitter cold no DC humidity now and the sidewalk is icy by producer 10 and I take it all in for a moment
00:10:29telling me now that this is actually our last interview and then we practically Sprint inside the doors of the capital to warm up and meet Christine
00:10:42any amendment to the Constitution has to have a representative inside this building to Champions it someone who formally proposes it in the house or the Senate and then stands up and pushes for it and one of these Chambers so it seems wonderfully fitting that for our finale at Banner I saw on the first day led me to Christine
00:11:15and that Christine now works here in the seat of constitutional change in the marble halls of the Capitol building
00:11:27so what makes a successful Amendment what sets apart the 27 that made it into the Constitution from the thousands and thousands of proposals that didn't make it there's been a lot of proposed amendments to the Constitution that were really reflective of the issues of the day and didn't really address a long-term problem that the country was really wrestling with and a lot of those are the ones that failed they didn't need a constitutional amendment to solve the problem sometimes it was solved by legislation or sometimes the problem basically solved itself the ones that were successful the things that they have in common are that
00:12:11it was a wide consensus in America that there was a problem that needed to be addressed and eventually over sometime that consensus grew to a point where it was a solution that could be had but only by a constitutional amendment several of you listeners wanted more details about some of these Amendment proposals that failed as Christine mentioned a number of them we're just two of the moment for example the Utah territory applied for Statehood at the end of the 19th century and there was suddenly a rash of proposals in Congress that would alter the Constitution to give the federal government rather than the states the ability to set marriage laws
00:13:01why all of these constitutional proposals well because Utah allowed polygamy and that worried some congressmen but in the end that kind of concern was a broad enough or lasting enough to Garner the kind of support that would be needed to pass an amendment other proposals that failed were early versions of ideas that would ultimately make it in like various proposals to address slavery or to grant women the right to vote
00:13:34but of course given there were 11000 failed attempts inevitably there have been quite a few zany or intriguing Amendment proposals to come from members of Congress there's definitely been some strange suggestions over time one of them would be to choose the executive by lot so literally picking a ball out of a bull that represents a candidate and making that person be the president of the United States was that a joke proposal I don't think it's a joke but the member who introduced that into powers in 1846 didn't give a speech on that so I was unable to determine for sure what his motivation was but based on his career and and the events of the time it appears that that was an effort to
00:14:34well the rising sectionalism in the nation of the time in that. Before the Civil War when the country was starting to divide into North and South and so I think this was an effort to actually purposefully randomize where that President might come from there was a 1911 effort to Grant Congress the power to protect migratory Birds K in 1917 there was an effort to return wealth to owners who had been dishonestly separated from it they wanted a constitutional requirement that thieves have to give the money back they were efforts to put a six-year time limit on the president's term and then to after resigning the presidency the president would become a senator for life
00:15:25I was in 1875 there was also another one from 1903 that opposed to keep the land of the nation nearly equally divided among people
00:15:37so there was a rising populism at that point in time and there was extreme wealth at the highest levels of society and there was some people inside at that point I thought that they were not getting their fair share so to speak it seems like such a strange proposal because just for one of the logistics of making that happen so I think a proposal like that is less serious and more about making a point do you have a very favorite failed Amendment probably one attempt in 1893 to change the name of the Republic from the United States of America to the United States of the world
00:16:16and then that didn't pass that didn't make it in make it in though I'm speculating it was more of an attempt to acknowledge the United States is rising role in world affairs at that particular point in time nearly all of the successful amendments were proposed by multiple members of Congress in multiple ways over the course of many many years they had to slowly build momentum and consensus among legislators but they often also needed an external Catalyst the times where there are significant numbers of introduced amendments
00:16:59are generally those periods of great change in American society so for example you can divide the successful amendments into for broad Arrow this perhaps or groupings over the course of the podcast We examined each of these we talked with historians about the founding era which gave us the drafting of the Constitution and the first 12 amendments to it there's nothing exciting or antique or ask her about it this is the most radical body of democratic deliberation ever assembled in many ways they were sticky situations in the Constitution that the framers could not really figure out in 1787 and therefore it in some ways They Kick the Can down the road we also looked at the next big Arrow
00:17:59I'm social change and constitutional change the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War this was when we got the 13th thru 15th amendment Banning slavery establishing equal protection granting citizens the right to vote regardless of race was the first major rights revolution in America and the first time we affirms that people other than the framers could the Constitution January 31st 1865 that the 13th amendment was passed I've been in the Fall of the House of Representatives members started shrieking and yelling and screaming and throwing the hat's up in the air for the first time in the history of the United States declared have to be regarded as a person within the meaning of the law
00:18:59the next big constitutional. Was more than half a century later it was the Progressive Era at the beginning of the 1900s we saw several issues populist issues that had been building up for decades suddenly spring to life in the form of the 16th through 21st amendment constitutional fight over the income tax is one that's incredibly revealing and resin and today I can't imagine that the original framers of the Constitution ever would have conceived of the possibility of a Prohibition amendment in the history books they keep saying that women got the vote in 1920 get in it for that woman sacrifice their lives for that photo finally the fourth and most recent era of dynamic constitutional change was the Civil Rights era during the 1950s 60s and 70s
00:19:59on the podcast we looked at some of the Amendments passed during that time and we also looked at a number of pivotal cases that redefined rights that the constitution had actually already granted the struggle for civil rights was to
00:20:17really redeem the soul of America to the Supreme Court it makes no difference how old I am or what color I am or what church I belong to if any the question is I did not get a fair trial
00:20:33across all of these time. There are two broad categories that most Constitutional Amendments fall under they either expand citizens rights which was the main focus of our podcast or they make a crucial fix to the way the government operates to keep it running smoothly we spent a little less time talking about those kind of amendments so here at the end listeners hoped we could look more closely at some of them in particular the Amendments throughout history that have changed the highest office in the nation the presidency
00:21:16over the past 200 plus years there have been numerous proposals by Congress that would limit expand or in some way recast the scope of Presidential Power for instance right now there are proposals in Congress that would alter the president's ability to issue pardons but the very first constitutional change that affected the presidency was the 12th Amendment it was the 1st Amendment passed by Congress in this building after the capital moved to DC and it was triggered by a major political crisis the tide election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr this was only the fourth US presidential election and it exposed a problem in one of the democratic ideas that the framers had written into the Constitution the Electoral College
00:22:15the Electoral College was one of those innovations that the founders made so that when people vote for president that actually not voting directly for the president they're voting for members of The Electoral College who then cast their vote for the president commander of the indirect election
00:22:36and the way they found her set that up in the original Constitution was that each elector got two votes and that worked fine as long as everybody voted for George Washington but then in the election of 1800 there came to be a problem that was very evident very quickly under that original system the president was the person who got the most electoral votes and the vice president was simply the person who came in second which meant she could have a president and a vice president from different parties to avoid that in the election of 1800 political parties formed tickets for the first time the Democratic Republican party had a Jefferson or ticket Jefferson for the presidency and Burr for the vice presidency
00:23:30tiny problem the electors each had two votes so all those electors who supported the Democratic Republican party cast a vote for Jefferson and a vote for Bernie and instead of coming in first and second they tied which means that neither had a majority which means that there was no chosen president so according to the Constitution that means the election goes to the House of Representatives and each state delegation gets one vote to choose which candidate they want for president and the house took 36 ballots before they finally settled on Thomas Jefferson but woke the main take away from that with regard to the Constitution was that this kind of tie was going to keep happening because parties were here to stay so they realized right away that they needed to tweak the Electoral College so they did that and that
00:24:30just let me know and I was the 12th Amendment to the Constitution and all that does is it just says that as the electors cast their two votes that when they cast their vote for president it goes into this pool and then there's a separate pool of oats for vice-president those are them counted separately and then you're unlikely to have a time so it's very small little tweak but had a very big impact because there's one other amendment to the Constitution that also relates to the Electoral College it's the 23rd Amendment ratified in 1961 at amendment gave Washington DC electors in the Electoral College meaning that DC residents could finally have a voice in choosing the president
00:25:18the Electoral College so has been the subject of way more Amendment proposals than just those two that successfully made it in of the more than 11,000 Constitutional Amendments that have been introduced in Congress the second most frequent topic of those proposals has been how we choose the president and abolishing the Electoral College or altering it in some way has been a frequent Choice do you know the reason why we haven't seen more amendments then that have actually been successful to change it because there's never been enough consensus within America on whether or not we want to change it and also importantly how to change but there has been enough consensus on other changes America wanted to make to the presidency over time
00:26:14just as with the 12th Amendment these other Constitutional Amendments about the presidency we're all precipitated by specific troubling events when the nation felt the Office of the President was in some crisis one of these was the 20th Amendment ratified in 1933 it changed the swearing-in date for the president and also the vice president and the Congress and this seems like a minor detail but the lag time between elections and inaugurations had at one point been nearly catastrophic the Constitution indicated that the start date for presidential term would be in March and that created a pretty long lame duck period for between when a president was actually elected in November and by the time they finally took office in March
00:27:09but the lad time for Congressional elections was even worse you would have an election in November but that Congress that was elected wouldn't actually take office until the following December and a whole term of congress the second session of Congress would take place as lame ducks and so that was considered to be a problem by many people and it had been something that members of Congress knew was a problem for a long time but the Catalyst for that Amendment at that point in time was the presidential election of 1932 between Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and during that lag time between the election and when Roosevelt took office there was a major Bank panic in the United States of course we were already in the middle of the depression at that point we are at the nadir of the of the depression really and things were really really terrible
00:28:04Hoover on his way out of office felt like he couldn't do anything that he shouldn't act as he was already almost out of office Roosevelt of course didn't have the power to do anything yet until he came into the office and so there was this like 2 months time. January and February where the nation was in panic so that was a main factor that led to people saying hey we really need to fix this problem and now is the time ever since the 20th Amendment was ratified new members of Congress are sworn in on January 3rd and new presidents and vice presidents are sworn in on January 20th there was another presidency related amendment of probably even greater consequence that also had to do with FDR after Roosevelt died in office during his fourth term as president Congress passed the 22nd Amendment
00:29:04which officially limits the number of times that someone can be elected president that Amendment became an important Safeguard preventing democracy from turning into demagoguery but interesting Lee the framers hadn't set any official limit themselves in the Constitution George Washington had set of President of stepping down after his two terms so it was a tradition but not a requirement in the Constitution until after FDR Roosevelt situation was unique in that the end of his second term came in 1940 when Europe was already in war and it appeared that the United States had a good chance of joining what became known as World War II so the nation was at a point where they were faced with the choice of keeping a leader they knew
00:30:04or starting completely fresh in a dangerous environment there was a lot of people who felt that George Washington's two-term precedent should be followed and that it was disrespectful to the Constitution and to America to even presume to run for a third term but there was no legal barrier to it so not only did Roosevelt run for a third term in 1940 but he was in fact Chosen and then went on to 1/4 at which point we were engaged in the middle of war and Americans again had to choose whether or not they wanted to change leadership in the middle of a national crisis and chose not to
00:30:43but then in 1946 after the war end in 1945 and in 1946 Republicans got control of Congress after Democrats being in control for decades and they were many Republicans who did not like Roosevelt's efforts to serve beyond the Washington president and that was when what became the 22nd amendment to the Constitution was the final constitutional change to the presidency was the 25th Amendment it's filled in a huge oversight in the Constitution which was what happens if a president dies in office or is no longer fit to serve this is a fascinating Amendment because it wasn't ratified until 1967 following John F Kennedy's assassination but America had been through several presidential assassin
00:31:43Nations before and a few presidents who died of natural causes in office and some presidents who had strokes and other major health issues that incapacitated them so why did it take so long to get this amendment the issue of presidential succession has existed since the first time a president died in office which was in 1841 when William Henry Harrison died on me a month or so after he took office there was a recognition that there was a problem there that needed to be addressed but there was no consensus on how to solve the problem it was also the issue of the vice president because the Constitution is silent on filling a vacancy in the office of the vice presidency so there was a number of times where the vice president moved up to the presidency when that was vacant or the vice president died or is on themselves
00:32:43if you got all those time periods together where the vice presidency was vacant it adds up to 38 years of American History where there was no constitutional designation of who would succeed the president if the president died that became a very serious issue after Kennedy's assassination in 1963 because at that point we entered into the nuclear Tara and it was a lot of concerned that we know who that person is who's going to have their finger on the nuclear button and there was no constitutional solution to that so it was definitely that Catalyst that led to the 25th Amendment and the 25th amendment has four sections each addressing different aspects of the presidential succession question the most controversial of those when they were debating it was section 4 where they talk about the in capacity of the president where he's alive but maybe isn't totally in
00:33:43troll of decision-making and what do you do in that situation who decides that he is incapable of making sound decisions at that point in time and what's the process for protecting the nation in that situation and of course that section has never been used so we don't know if the words that were chosen at that point time will stand up to any constitutional situation where that might need to be involved Christine mentioned earlier how eras of dramatic social change and upheaval 10 to usher in Greater constitutional activity this 25th amendment was passed during the most recent constitutional wave in the 1960s and 70s this was during the time of the Civil Rights era the Vietnam War era
00:34:36there were of course people though behind those big social waves we talked throughout the podcast about many of those transformational figures but one person who we haven't mentioned before is a senator named Birch Bay from Indiana he was 34 years old when he was sworn into Congress in 1963 he was a Democrat and he quickly ended up being chairman of the subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments
00:35:11they wrote the 25th and 26th amendments to the Constitution the 26th was the one that lowered the voting age to 18 that makes him the only person other than James Madison to have authored multiple amendments
00:35:30plus they would have actually had three amendments to his name if they Equal Rights Amendment had been ratified
00:35:43constitutional podcast is sponsored by WordPress every day millions of people go online to search for local businesses when you create your Small Business website on wordpress.com you make it easier for customers to find yours you don't need experience setting up a website WordPress guide you through the process and we're pressed plants are to just $4 per month plus all plans include a custom domain name for the life of the plan C by 20% of all websites run out of work go to work rest. Com constitutional to get 15% off your website today wordpress.com constitutional
00:36:19the Equal Rights Amendment or y'are has been the subject of the most Amendment proposals in all of American History have been over 1100 so that's approximately 10% of all the Amendments have been over 1,100 introduced amendments to establish the legal equality of men and women a version of the era was first introduced in Congress in 1923 shortly after women got the right to vote and it then continue to be proposed in every single Congress until 1972 often there were multiple proposals with slightly different wording and then 1972 Burt's Bees version of the era passed Congress and was sent to the states for ratification
00:37:16if you listen to our episode on this then that you know that I didn't get the required sign off from 3/4 of the states by its deadline in 1979 though it came pretty close it then got an extension to 1982 but it's still didn't get enough States before that second deadline was up so this leads into a question that one listener sent me which was when do we officially consider an amendment dead that there will be no chance of it ever moving any further forward well most of those 11,000 amendments that have been introduced if they do not pass Congress then they're dead at the end of that Congress and the next Congress that and then we would have to be reintroduced so that's how most of the 11,000 have died
00:38:08of those that didn't pass both houses of Congress like the era in modern times those Amendments have included a time limit for ratification but the Constitution does not say anything about time limits and not all of the proposed amendments have included one so where does this leave the Equal Rights Amendment could it still be ratified there some disagreement about that again reflecting on the fact that the constitution is silent about ratification time limits it's unclear whether including a time limit on a Amendment proposal is even Constitution so there's some people who say who believe that time limits are unconstitutional and therefore the era as it was passed in Congress in 1972 is still alive proposal for ratification by the states and the state of Nevada. Actually just ratified that Amendment last year
00:39:04and then there are others who say that know the time limit was written into the joint resolution in Congress itself and that's final the time limit is over so that proposal from Congress in 1972 is dead and that any further effort to pass an equal rights amendment has to go back to square one with the introduction of a joint resolution in Congress for the time being people who want to see this Amendment ratified are taking a multi-pronged approach they're trying to get the remaining number of states to ratify it to see if Congress would then accept that ratification despite the expired deadline
00:39:45and in the meantime as a back-up plan some members of Congress are also continuing to propose new era amendments year after year in case they need to start from scratch which brings us to the Constitution present-day the question that more listeners sent me than any other was what's the next Amendment we might see as we look across the current proposals in Congress are there any that between their subject matter and the frequency and persistence with which they appear seem like they might find a place in the Constitution so far this Congress there have been 65 introduced Constitutional Amendments and the most common topic amongst those has been for a balanced budget amendment and there been 15 of those so far this Congress that's a topic that has been in
00:40:45Amendment proposals since at least the 1970s so again that something that keeps showing up over and over and over again the term limits for members of Congress is the next most popular Topic in the current Congress and then issues relating to campaign Finance is another one of which there multiple amendments in Congress right now and the Equal Rights Amendment that we've already mentioned is another one of those that has multiple proposals in this Congress
00:41:16all of those are issues that have been repeatedly introduced for decades now whether there will be specific movement on any of those immediately it's hard to say I highly suspect that those issues will reappear in the next Congress too and we'll see as already mentioned There's issues the issues that have been successful have been those that have been around for decades before they finally got enough consensus several people not surprisingly are also curious if there's a decent chance that we will actually see a new amendment in our lifetime or if the hurdles have gotten higher and the political polarization has made it exceedingly difficult for any proposal to pick up enough steam I would say that it's just an ebb and flow and we're in a dry spell right now it's been 26 years since we last amended the Constitution with the
00:42:167th and we've already mentioned that there's been other periods in American history much longer than that where we've had no women in the. After the 12th Amendment was ratified which was in 1804 there's kind of a low. After that I think people perhaps have the idea that we made some fixes to that Constitution and now we can focus elsewhere and then there was another big push for amendments until that great social change of the Civil War that time. Between the 12th and 13th Amendment is the longest time. In American history where we do not amend the Constitution 61 years there was also a period of nearly 40 years between the last Reconstruction Era Amendment and the first progressive era Amendment so I think it's just something that's it's just part of the process final question
00:43:12when you combine the story of the 27 Amendments that we do have to the Constitution with the thousands of proposed amendments that didn't make it in what do you take away about the American experiment how will have the words that were written on those original pages of parchment held up over 230 years I think those are words from the founders of held up pretty well we're still using this constitution 228 years later they set a very high bar for amending the Constitution 2/3 of both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the states
00:43:55is a lot and that requires a pretty high level of consensus within all of America before that can happen but they also knew that
00:44:06they understood at the time when they wrote the Constitution that there would need to be changes to what they were doing and that's why they included Article 5 in the Constitution which describes the amending process so
00:44:21these efforts that that we've made over the years to update the Constitution I think the founders would approve of that they knew they didn't have it a hundred percent correct
00:44:34they knew that they were moving towards a more perfect union not that they had created a perfect union
00:44:47Congress moved to Washington DC in November of 1800 the forest have been cleared from Jenkins Hill and the beginnings of the Capitol building sat on top of it it was unfinished unheated leaky but the structure was complete enough to be the new home of a hundred and seven members of Congress from what were then the 16 States of America
00:45:20a snow storm had blown over the East Coast leading up to congress's start there on November 17th
00:45:28the welcoming parade was cancelled many members struggled and days late having been stranded and delayed by the snow but America had a new capital city or at least the makings of what would become a city in time
00:45:47the Capitol Building wouldn't reach its present day size and appearance until the end of the 1800s
00:45:54around the same time the Washington Monument was completed the grand grassy Boulevard of the National Mall wouldn't be cleared until the early 1900s the cherry blossoms wouldn't be planted around the Tidal Basin until the 19 teens the Supreme Court wouldn't move out of the basement of the Capitol building and into its own Marvel building across the street until 1935 but the enormous words equal justice under the law carved Bobbitt 16 columns after the interview with Christine was over she took me down to the original Senate chamber in the capital the one part of the building that was complete that's snowy November in 1800
00:46:47it's a small beautiful room that was used by the Senate then used by the Supreme Court and now it's just a quiet roped-off space at visitors peek into
00:47:04we walked from there of a staircase into the rotunda at then we ducked behind a big American flag knocked on a locked door. Walked the red painted quarter right out onto the speaker's balcony
00:47:29there's no snow but it's winter and the wind nearly whipped the door open and my hair was flying all over the place and my coat was still downstairs inside but how can I not stand out there as long as they would possibly let me from up there on the balcony looking west across the city I could see the Lincoln Memorial in the distance and I could picture the presidential inaugurations that took place beneath this balcony and the March is that have filled this National Mall over generations with people crying out for change
00:48:16much of what this look back through history has done for me is highlights how the story of America has really been a story about the extension of rights and protections a story about the expansion of the promise of the Constitution to new groups of people
00:48:37to whom have they still not been extended what are the next Frontiers
00:48:45many of the people who have changed America's Constitution both the country's actual founding documents and also it's National sense of self they've done so from outside this Capitol Building from the outside Washington even they organized the Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls or wrote to the Supreme Court from a Florida jail or walked hundreds of miles across the snow swept Plains
00:49:18what do they all have in common
00:49:23this country is so large and so diverse we don't share a race or religion even a single climate some of us live in the rest of the desert summon the green of the mountains some near the cold blue of the Arctic Ocean
00:49:45the thing that we share the only thing we really share with every single other person in this country is the Constitution
00:49:56is the fact that were part of the same American experiment with its promise of Justice Liberty equality it's the Constitution that's the one that binds us and so knowing all the twists and turns in history of act document and participating in keeping its ideals alive and real for as many people as possible for ourselves and our posterity that's the thing that will keep this crazy improbable revolutionary aspirational idealistic Union together
00:51:07many thanks to this week's guests Christine blackerby of the US Capitol building and many thanks to all the guests who've appeared throughout the series on constitutional and brought these stories to life but more than anything all my things to you you who have been listening to this podcast episode after episode you've sent me awesome questions you've given me great ideas you've recommended it to your friends your family your students your teachers and you've really cheered me on over the marathons that have been both presidential and constitutional you are hands-down the best listeners I could imagine and I'm really going to miss you a lot
00:51:58if you have told me you feel like you know me and you're having conversations with me just from listening to the podcast and I want to tell you I feel the same way I feel like I know you and I've been having conversations with you even when I'm just by myself speaking into a microphone in a studio so thank you and please keep in touch my email is Lillian. Cunningham at washpost.com my Twitter handle is Lilly underscore Cunningham and if you want to hear what project I'll be doing next Once I figure it out you can go to Lillian Cunningham. Com I'm trying to keep it simple here you know so you can go to that website and you can sign up there to get an email alert whenever we have something to announce about a new project
00:52:54there are lots of colleagues at the post that I need to thank for making this podcast possible but I want to particularly call out Kelly Johnson and just all for their enormous help in getting this podcast off the ground and seeing it through to the Finish Line you all know the person I'm about to think now my enormous in men's thank you goes to Ted Muldoon I've told you every episode that Ted is amazing and he has done such incredible work sound designing these episodes and mixing them and producing them but he's also made working on this podcast so much fun he's brought humor and thoughtfulness and such a positive spirit to all of this work and it's made its way into the stories itself so Ted
00:53:48thank you thank you and listeners if you want to send Ted an email because I think a lot of you probably want to say hi and give thanks to him as well I'm going to just give you his email address and I hope he doesn't mind I'm sure he won't or he'll edit this line out it's Ted. Muldoon Muldoon at wash post.com
00:54:15all right here are all the last little bits one final time the theme music and additional compositions are by Ryan and he's holiday the original artwork for the series by Michelle Thompson and the Fife and Drum music that appear throughout the series is biosa Turner and the rising star Fife and Drum band many things to shardae Thomas and the rest of the Turner family for its use and you know what I think you can still get $100 off on a one-year all access digital subscription to The Washington Post go to Guapo. St / podcast offer at Swap o. S t podcast offer thank you all so much for listening I hope I find you again soon on another podcast I will miss you in the meantime I don't want it to end. It's hard to say the last words okay thank you
00:55:15and goodbye
00:55:21I am Mike Rosenwald a reporter here at the Washington Post I'm hosting a new daily podcast called retro pod it's a show about the past rediscovered every weekday morning look for some of history's most dramatic moments I'll introduce you to colorful characters for a path forgotten Heroes Overlook villains dreamers explores World Changers check it out on your Amazon Echo or Google home or your favorite podcast player for instructions on how to listen visit washingtonpost.com retro pod
00:55:55the Washington Washington Washington Post

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