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Civics 101

What's the difference between the House and the Senate? How do landmark Supreme Court decisions affect our lives? What does the 2nd Amendment really say? Civics 101 is the podcast about how our democracy works...or is supposed to work, anyway.

  • You may have been surprised (or maybe not) when judge Aileen Cannon abruptly dismissed the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump. We dig into how and why that happened. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • Introducing the newest series from NHPR’s award-winning Document team: “The Youth Development Center.” New Hampshire has sent its most troubled kids to the same juvenile detention center for more than a century. It's a place that was supposed to nurture them, that instead hurt them – in some of the worst ways imaginable. It's now at the center of one of the biggest youth detention scandals in American history. How did this happen – and how did it finally come to light?The series is available now: listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, iHeart Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts. This episode includes content that may not be suitable for young listeners. If you have suffered abuse and need someone to talk to, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. If you’re in a mental health crisis, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of the country’s most beloved presidential historians and authors, having written books about the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, and Lincoln, among many others. Her latest book is An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s. The book is part memoir, part in-depth journey through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and part love letter to her husband Dick Goodwin, a presidential speechwriter and policy advisor who played a vital role in shaping the very history Goodwin recounts.Today on the podcast, we’ll hear a conversation between our executive producer Rebecca Lavoie and Doris Kearns Goodwin recorded at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. One note - this event took place just a few days after a New York jury found former president Donald Trump guilty on 34 charges related to an illegal hush money payment scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, says certain hospitals have to provide stabilizing care to patients. Until the Dobbs decision in 2022, that care included abortion if necessary. After Dobbs, though, states with strict abortion laws make it difficult if not impossible to abide by EMTALA. Idaho is one such state, the United States sued, and that case made its way to the Supreme Court. In June of 2024, however, the Court said it made a mistake. It never should have taken the case. So what happened? Hannah is inside the courtroom, Nick's waiting outside.Listen to our episodes on federalism, Roe v Wade and precedent for some extra context on what we talk about here.Finally, listen to Hannah's episode on what it was like to spend a day in the Supreme Court. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • What is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or the CPB? How does it all work? And why is it SO political?In this episode, senior producer Christina Phillips explains it all. She first spoke with the CPB's Anne Brachman, and then did a deep dive to learn more. In the episode, Christina mentions 2024 legislation called the Defund NPR Act. You can read that bill right here. Since we taped the episode, there's a new effort afoot to defund the CPB. More on that here. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • On this special bonus episode of Civics 101, we talk about the Supreme Court’s decision on July 1st in the case of Trump v United States. The court ruled along ideological lines; it was a 6-3 decision that granted former president Donald Trump - and any president - some degree of immunity. But it's a long opinion, and a complicated one. To explain all of it, we reached out to Dr. Claire Wofford, an Associate Professor of Political Science at College of Charleston. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • The Smithsonian is a heck of a lot more than its 21 museums. Today on Civics 101 Richard Kurin tells us all about about an institution that interacts with all three branches of government, has a budget of over a billion dollars, and is dedicated to "the increase and diffusion of knowledge" among all. So how did it start? How does it run? What does the Chief Justice have to do with all this? And, finally, why do we collect items in the first place? CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • On June 14 2024, the Supreme Court ruled that bump stocks are no longer illegal, reversing an order from Donald Trump and the ATF that was passed in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings. The words "Second Amendment" do not appear in the opinion, concurring opinion, or dissent. And yet, within minutes of the ruling, every news agency was calling it a Second Amendment case. So what is the Second Amendment?It's short. 27 words. Words which have been interpreted and reinterpreted by historians, activists, judges, and philosophers. What did it mean when it was written? What does it mean right now? And what happened in between?Today's episode features Saul Cornell, professor of history at Fordham University and author of A Well Regulated Militia, Alexandra Filindra, professor of political science at University of Illinois Chicago and author of Race, Rights, and Rifles, and Jake Charles, lecturing fellow and executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • Today we break down flags that have been in the news; from variations on the American flag to revolutionary flags like the Gadsden Flag and the "Appeal to Heaven" pine tree flag. These flags do not change in their design, but the meaning of these flags certainly does change.For more flaggery, click here to hear our show about the history of the American flag and SCOTUS cases surrounding it, and click here to learn about why Nick thinks the NH flag is so terrible. BONUS: Check out Hannah and Nick on NPR’s It’s Been a Minute - Conservatives want to burn flags too! CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • This is the story of what happens (and what's happening) when the American workforce tries to get a seat at the table. Our guides to strikes, unions and the labor movement are Kim Kelly, journalist and author of Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor, Eric Loomis professor of History at the University of Rhode Island and author of A History of America in Ten Strikes and our friend Andrew Swan, an 8th Grade Social Studies teacher in Newton, MA among many other things. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC is sometimes called “the people’s zoo.” That’s because it’s the only zoo in the country to be created by an act of US Congress, and admission is free.But why did our federal government create a national zoo in the first place?Outside/In producer Felix Poon has the scoop – from its surprising origins in the near-extinction of bison, to a look at its modern-day mission of conservation, we’re going on a field trip to learn all about the National Zoo.Support our public radio show today and you can get our new misinformation/disinformation tote bag! Click here to take a peek at it. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!
  • Today on Civics 101 we talk about truth, bias, and objectivity in reporting. I visited with Barbara Sprunt, reporter at the Washington desk at NPR, who told me what it's like to cover Capitol Hill. Barbara told me about her schedule, what to listen for when interviewing members of Congress, and what she says to accusations of political bias.Support our public radio show today and you can get our new misinformation/disinformation tote bag! Click here to take a peek at it. CLICK HERE: Visit our website to donate to the podcast, sign up for our newsletter, get free educational materials, and more!