February 8, 2020 Print

Douglas H. Ginsburg, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, talks with historic interpretive actor Benjamin Franklin outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the PBS series, A More or Less Perfect Union. Credit: Barbara Potter.

The history of the United States Constitution is the focus of A More or Less Perfect Union, a new PBS documentary series hosted by Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Throughout the three-part series, Judge Ginsburg, a constitutional expert with more than 30 years of judicial experience, guides viewers through a highly personal celebration of constitutional history, including his thoughts on fundamental document’s origins, evolution, and the present-day threats that it faces.

Free to Choose Network, an Atlas Network partner in Erie, Pennsylvania, created the series as part of their mission to offer “diverse voices, powerful stories and a fresh perspective on a range of important global and national issues.”  The series uses firsthand perspectives, including those of direct descendants of slaves and of those involved in pivotal civil rights cases, to provide context to the development of American governance.

The first episode, A Constitution in Writing, explains the origin of the U.S. Constitution as Judge Ginsburg, constitutional experts, and actors portraying the Founding Fathers describe the creation of the constitution and the struggles for compromise that led to its passage. The second episode, A Constitution for All, looks at constitutional amendments from the Bill of Rights to the Equal Protection Clause. Several major Supreme Court cases and their impact on constitutional freedoms are also discussed by journalists, constitutional scholars, and other experts.

The final episode, Our Constitution at Risk, documents current threats to constitutional protections, include racial profiling, eminent domain, and expanded executive orders. Judge Ginsburg assesses how each branch of government is contributing to this problem and asks, “are we ceding our rights so gradually that we don’t even know it is happening?”

Free to Choose Network’s companion book to the mini-series, Voices of Our Republic, is designed to encourage community engagement with the ideas presented in the documentary. Voices of Our Republic showcases personal essays about the Constitution from a highly diverse collection of journalists, academics, and everyday heroes, including Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch, lawyer and professor Alan Dershowitz, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, historian Ron Chernow, golfer Jack Nicklaus, rock musician Gene Simmons, and many others. The book was released in January and is available at Amazon.