News

Happy Constitution Day!

Over 230 years ago today, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania signed the Constitution of the United States.  

Celebrate the birthday of our foundering document and check out our latest film in The Constitution Project series, The 19th Amendment: A Woman’s Right to Choose.

Full Text of the Original Document.

 

 

 

 

 

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Watch our new film celebrating the 100th anniversary of a women’s right to vote!

100 years ago this month, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify what would become the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment: A Woman’s Right to Choose tells the story of the remarkable women who fought for over a century to win one of the most basic rights of citizenship.

Watch our new film on McCulloch v. Maryland!

Check our new film on one of the most famous and foundational cases in the history of the Supreme Court, McCulloch v. Maryland.  In 1791, Alexander Hamilton founded a National Bank.  Pretty simple, right?  But this simple act set off a fight over who had power over whom, the States or the newly-formed Federal Government.  The answer lay in one line in Article VI of the Constitution: The Supremacy Clause.

Learn more in our new film The Supremacy Clause: McCulloch v. Maryland.

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Supreme Court overturns Korematsu in response to charge of echos in Travel Ban decision

The Topaz War Relocation Center, where Fred Korematsu was sent after his arrest (National Archives)

 
In his majority opinion in Trump v. Hawaii, Chief Justice John Roberts overturned the ruling in Korematsu v. United States (1944) that had stood for nearly three quarters of a century in response to a dissent written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor that drew parallels between the opinion in Trump and that in Korematsu
 
Roberts’s opinion in Trump upheld an Executive Order by President Donald Trump to exclude people from several predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the United States on national security grounds.  Koremastu upheld the internement of Japanese Americans during World War II ruling that it was based on “proper security measures” in time of war. 
 
Justice Roberts denied any relation between Trump and Korematsu, but took the opportunity of its mention to overturn Korematsu, quoting a dissent by Justice Robert Jackson.  “Koremastu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—’has no place in law under the Constitution.'”
 
In her dissent in Trump, Justice Sotomayor wrote, “By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discrimi­natory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another.”
 

Learn more about Korematsu v. United States in our film Korematsu and Civil Liberties.

 
 
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Supreme Court to weigh the limits of Presidential power

President Harry S. Truman (United States Army Signal Corps, Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.)

On Wednesday, April 25th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Trump v. Hawaii.  The case stems from a presidential executive order that bans people from six countries*, five of which are Muslim-majority, from entering the United States.  The White House issued the ban arguing that travelers from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea could pose a security risk, despite the fact that no citizen from these countries has carried out a fatal terrorist attack in the U.S. in the past two decades.  The Court will hear arguments as to whether the President overstepped the limits of the Executive branch by issuing immigration orders that contradict earlier ones issued by Congress.

Trump v. Hawaii could be the greatest test of presidential authority in 66 years.  In 1952, in a case called Youngstown v. Sawyer, the Court overturned an order by President Harry Truman that seized control of the U.S. steel industry during the Korean War to prevent it from being disrupted by a labor strike.  In a 6-3 opinion, the Court ruled that President Truman violated the Separation of Powers laid out in the Constitution by seizing the industry without Congressional approval.  The president cannot give himself that authority, the Court ruled, because “[i]n the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker.”

Learn more about the limits of Presidential Power in our film about Youngstown v. Sawyer, Checks and Balances.

 

*The Executive Order, signed on September 24, 2017, followed two previous E.O.s issued in January and March 2017 that were rescinded following legal challenges.  The September E.O. initially included a sixth Muslim-majority country, Chad, but the White House removed Chad from the list earlier this month.

 

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