Watch Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom

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In 24 fascinating episodes, go behind the scenes of the trials that brought many of the liberties we enjoy today. You’ll learn exactly what happened when Susan B. Anthony decided to vote in a national election, when activists promoted radical ideas in the 1880s in Chicago, when Jehovah’s Witnesses decided their children should not be forced to salute the American flag in school, and more.

Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (23 episodes). The series first aired on January 3, 2020.

Where do I stream Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom online? Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom is available for streaming on The Great Courses Signature Collection, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon online.

The Great Courses Signature Collection
1 Season, 23 Episodes
January 3, 2020
Documentary & Biography
Cast: Doug Linder
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Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom Full Episode Guide

  • US candidates have a long history of trying to outraise and outspend their opponents to win elections with help from big corporations and wealthy donors. Explore why, then, in 2010, the Supreme Court declared any ban on political spending by corporations to be unconstitutional, and why, at the same time, most polls show strong support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling.

  • Does a city have the right to use eminent domain to take private property and sell it for private development if the city believes that development will improve the city's economy? Learn how Susette Kelo's refusal to sell her little pink house in New London, CT, led to a Supreme Court case addressing what she described to Congress as eminent domain abuse," and why she lost the case.

  • When the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) expelled scout leader James Dale because he way gay, Dale challenged the BSA's authority to use sexual orientation as a basis for exclusion. In a case pitting Dale's claimed right to be free from discrimination against the associational rights of the Scouts, the Supreme Court sided with the Boy Scouts. Examine the reasons for, and effects of, the ruling.

  • Jack Kevorkian helped hundreds end their pain and suffering. Legally tried, having escaped conviction time after time, a final trial proved his undoing. Explore Dr. Kevorkian's work on behalf of an individual's right to euthanasia, why he believed he was taking a stand for liberty, and why he was eventually convicted of second-degree homicide.

  • Do we Americans have the freedom to isolate ourselves, express views considered racist and hateful by the majority, and stockpile legally purchased weapons? Do we have the liberty to sell a sawed-off shotgun? Explore the complex story and resultant trial that started with Randy and Vicki Weaver wanting to separate themselves from mainstream society, and ended with three dead at Ruby Ridge.

  • Should the government interfere in activities in your bedroom? Well into the 20th century, every state had laws prohibiting at least one sexual act, even between heterosexual married couples in the privacy of their own home. Explore the numerous lawsuits and trials that eventually extended the protection of privacy to include intimacy, regardless of sexual orientation.

  • Desperate for an abortion, Norma McCorvey agreed (under the name Jane Roe) to take the case to court, and ultimately the Supreme Court. As you learn about the famous decision that resulted, you'll also gain a better understanding of the many other ways in which American courts have intervened in personal decisions related to sterilization and birth control, as well as abortion.

  • Is it legal for an individual to copy top-secret documents and release them to the press? Can the government legally stop a newspaper from publishing classified material? Explore how these questions affected the country's political life during the Nixon administration, and ultimately led to the president's resignation.

  • Richard Loving wanted to marry the woman of his dreams. But Richard was white, and Mildred, according to the commonwealth of Virginia, was colored, which made it illegal for them to marry. Learn how the case of this modest, unassuming couple went all the way to the Supreme Court, and how the Court's ruling eventually led to marriage equality for same-sex couples, as well.

  • Today, Lenny Bruce is considered a trailblazer of American stand-up comedy addressing the now-common themes of politics, sex, and religion. But in the 1950s and '60s, he was considered an obscene subversive, and arrested numerous times. Explore the ways in which Bruce and the First Amendment affected each other. Today's authors, publishers, poets, and comedians owe a debt of gratitude to Bruce.

  • Learn about Charles H. Houston, the African American lawyer who made it his life's work to challenge Jim Crow laws and who won a Supreme Court victory in the case of Gaines v. Missouri, paving the way for the Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Houston's work for the NAACP to end segregation led his successor, Thurgood Marshall, to say he was just carrying Houston's bags.

  • In 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order requiring that all Japanese Americans move to relocation camps as a matter of national security. Fred Korematsu refused, was arrested for violating an exclusion order, and convicted. Learn how Korematsu carried his fight against what he thought was an un-American law all the way to the Supreme Court.

  • In 1925, Dr. Ossian Sweet, an African American, bought a home for his family in a white neighborhood of Detroit. When a white crowd gathered around the house and violence broke out, one member of the crowd was killed. Police charged everyone in the Sweet home with premeditated murder. Explore Clarence Darrow's defense, and what the trial revealed about American society at that time.

  • Labor tensions were already at the boiling point in Chicago, when someone threw a bomb into a group of police officers. Although the bomb thrower was never found, eight defendants were tried by a jury handpicked by the bailiff, and seven were found guilty and sentenced to death for inciting violence. Explore the ways in which this trial became a key event in the history of free speech in America.

  • John Brown's plan to end slavery came to a tragic end at Harper's Ferry, VA, when guards were killed as he seized the federal armory and only a few slaves joined his revolt. Instead, Brown was charged with treason, murder, and slave insurrection. Learn how John Brown's trial and execution nevertheless played a significant role in the eventual end of slavery in the United States.

  • There was no toleration of religious dissent in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600s. And there certainly was no room for religious argument for a woman! When Anne Hutchinson shared with others her religious ideas and gathered a following, the governor put her on trial for heresy. Explore the trials, defense, and punishment of the woman sometimes called America's first feminist. #History