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PBS – The Supreme Court (2007) 4of4 The Rehnquist Revolution

PBS The Supreme Court 4of4 The Rehnquist Revolution

“It’s known as the court of last resort — the Supreme Court — where nine judges appointed for life make monumental decisions that govern our everyday lives, from the contents of the nation’s daily newspapers to what we can do in the privacy of our own homes. With immense power and considerable mystery, the court of final appeal has helped author the history of America.

Part 1: One Nation Under Law
One Nation Under Law examines the creation of the Court and follows it through the brink of the Civil War, paying particular attention to the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court — John Marshall — and to his successor, Roger Taney. Marshall presided over one of the most famous cases before the Court; Taney, over one of the most infamous. In Marbury v. Madison (1803), Marshall used an obscure case involving an unsigned judicial appointment as an opportunity to assert the Court’s most important power — that of judicial review, which gives federal courts the right to strike down laws that clash with the Constitution. A half century later, in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), Taney exercised that same power against the national government, this time to protect slavery.”


Part 2: A New Kind of Justice
“It’s known as the court of last resort — the Supreme Court — where nine judges appointed for life make monumental decisions that govern our everyday lives, from the contents of the nation’s daily newspapers to what we can do in the privacy of our own homes. With immense power and considerable mystery, the court of final appeal has helped author the history of America.

Episode 2: A New Kind of Justice

A New Kind of Justice explores the issues before the Court during the period after the Civil War — a time of unprecedented economic growth, when industrialists like Carnegie and Rockefeller were earning millions. As corporations grew more powerful, they found an unlikely ally in the Supreme Court. Although the Fourteenth Amendment was passed to ensure that the states recognized the rights of the newly freed slaves, the Court would for almost 100 years interpret the amendment not as a protect not blacks but rather for big business, recognizing corporations as “persons” and awarding them sweeping legal protections.”


Part 3: A Nation of Liberties
“It’s known as the court of last resort — the Supreme Court — where nine judges appointed for life make monumental decisions that govern our everyday lives, from the contents of the nation’s daily newspapers to what we can do in the privacy of our own homes. With immense power and considerable mystery, the court of final appeal has helped author the history of America.

Episode 3: A Nation of Liberties

A Nation of Liberties focuses on the Court’s reaction to state and federal legislation on Bill of Rights freedoms, with special attention to the explosion of civil rights cases from the early 1940s to the present. This program highlights the Warren Court as it confronted the issues of race, gender and religion in the post-war period, when six newly-appointed justices were just beginning to find their way on the Court. Over the next quarter century, the belief in individual freedoms and rights would push the nation, and the Supreme Court, towards a new agenda.”


Part 4: The Rehnquist Revolution
“It’s known as the court of last resort — the Supreme Court — where nine judges appointed for life make monumental decisions that govern our everyday lives, from the contents of the nation’s daily newspapers to what we can do in the privacy of our own homes. With immense power and considerable mystery, the court of final appeal has helped author the history of America.

Episode 4: The Rehnquist Revolution

The Rehnquist Revolution details the extraordinary opportunity availed by President Richard Nixon: to name four of the Court’s nine judges, effectively replacing almost half of the Warren court. The last hour of the series also investigates how the Court, especially under the leadership of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, rose in importance to become the institution most responsible for resolving the central questions of American life. The program also addresses the right to privacy, a key component in 1973’s Roe v. Wade, and the surprising actions of an activist court in Bush v. Gore..”

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