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AN UNPRECEDENTED SERIES EXPLORING THE HISTORY, IMPACT AND DRAMA OF AMERICA'S HIGHEST COURT

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.

'We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights -- older than our political parties, older than our school system.' -- William O. Douglas
AWARDS AND HONORS
  • A 2008 Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner, Television
  • 2007 CINE Special Jury Award - Best of History
  • 2007 New York Festivals Gold World Medal: The Supreme Court: A Nation of Liberties
  • 2007 New York Festivals Silver World Medal: The Supreme Court: The Rehnquist Revolution
 
  • 2008 American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award
  • 2007 IDA Best Limited Series
  • 2007 New York Festivals Gold World Medal, Best Editing
  • 2007 New York Festivals Gold World Medal, Best Lighting
  • 2007 New York Festivals Silver World Medal, Best Writing

Episode 1 - One Nation Under Law Episode 2 - A New Kind of Justice
One Nation Under Law A New Kind of Justice
Painting of John Jay
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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.

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Image of Ward Hunt
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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.

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Episode 3 - A Nation of Liberties Episode 4 - The Rehnquist Revolution
A Nation of Liberties The Rehnquist Revolution
Photo of Hugo Black
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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.

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Photo of William Rehnquist
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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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