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Law in Popular Culture

Celebrities and others tell how the US Constitution affects their daily lives in new PBS series

Posted May 2, 2013 3:07 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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How does the U.S. Constitution affect our daily lives?

That is the question Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s popular show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me seeks to answer in Constitution USA, a new PBS series that premieres Tuesday, May 7.

Over the course of four episodes, Sagal travels by motorcycle to 26 states, interviewing both ordinary folks who are impacted by the Constitution, such as a man whose son's military funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church, and those with legal expertise, including litigator David Boies and former solicitor generalTed Olson.

A PBS video clip gives a several minute preview of the program.

In an interview with Politico, Sagal says most of the non-experts he talked to for the program weren't very familiar with the Constitution and tended to think it guarantees the rights that are most important to them, whether or not it actually does.

“What they don’t understand is that most of the Constitution really doesn’t talk about rights and liberties," Sagal said. "That’s the Bill of Rights, it’s important. Most of the Constitution doesn’t settle arguments. It gives us a forum through a very carefully designed form of government to have arguments without killing each other, which was, in the late 18th century, a pretty new thing in human experience.”

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