Constitutional Law

Airs Sunday, May 24, at 6 p.m. The President has launched a sustained, long-term military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. But did he have constitutional power to do so? The Constitution carefully divides the war powers of the United States between Congress and the President. Article II provides that “The President shall be Commander in Chief.” But Article I provides that “The Congress shall have Power … To Declare War.” In this case, Congress has not declared war; the President ordered the attacks unilaterally. Did he exceed his authority and violate the Constitution? Arguing for the motion are Gene Healy, VP of the Cato Institute & Author of The Cult of the Presidency and Deborah Pearlstein, Assistant Professor at Cardozo Law & Former Director of Law & Security Program at Human Rights First. Arguing against the motion are Akhil Reed Amar, Professor of Law at Yale University and Philip Bobbitt, Professor at Columbia Law School & Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin.

Airs Sunday, January 4 at 6 p.m. Some say that indiscriminate collection of U.S. phone records is a gross invasion of privacy.  Others say that it is necessary to keep us safe.  But what does the U.S Constitution say?  Is collection of phone records a “search” or “seizure?"  If so, is it “unreasonable?"  Does it require a particularized warrant and probable cause?  These are among the most consequential — and controversial — constitutional questions of our time.  Arguing for the motion are Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney for the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project; and Elizabeth Wydra, Chief Counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center. Arguing against the motion are: Stewart Baker, Former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security & Former General Counsel for the NSA; and John Yoo, a Professor of Law at UC Berkeley & Former Justice Department Lawyer.

Airs Sunday, February 23 at 6 p.m. The NSA collects data on billions of phone calls and internet communications per day. Are these surveillance programs legal? Do they keep us safe? What tradeoffs are we willing to make between security and privacy? As Benjamin Franklin might have asked, "Are we giving up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, and thus deserving of neither?"