Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom

Watch Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom

  • 2020
  • 1 Season

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.

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Liberty for Nonhumans?
24. Liberty for Nonhumans?
January 3, 2020
Many Americans were initially excluded from liberty and justice for all. Could future trials result in greater liberties for apes, cetaceans, and elephants? Learn how Tommy became the first chimpanzee to have a suit for his freedom filed on his behalf, and why one judge on the New York Court of Appeals says the issue of fundamental rights for nonhuman animals is not going away.
The Citizens United Case
23. The Citizens United Case
January 3, 2020
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.
Kelo v. City of New London
22. Kelo v. City of New London
January 3, 2020
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.
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale
21. Boy Scouts of America v. Dale
January 3, 2020
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.
The Trials of Jack Kevorkian
20. The Trials of Jack Kevorkian
January 3, 2020
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.
The Ruby Ridge Trial
19. The Ruby Ridge Trial
January 3, 2020
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.
The Right to an Intimate Life
18. The Right to an Intimate Life
January 3, 2020
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.
The Road to Roe v. Wade
17. The Road to Roe v. Wade
January 3, 2020
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.
The Trial of Daniel Ellsberg
16. The Trial of Daniel Ellsberg
January 3, 2020
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.
Furman v. Georgia
15. Furman v. Georgia
January 3, 2020
In 1972, when the US Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment as then administered was unconstitutional, many legal experts (including some justices) believed that would end the death penalty. Learn why that was not the case, and explore the deep complexities of the law as it relates to capital punishment.
Wisconsin v. Yoder
14. Wisconsin v. Yoder
January 3, 2020
In the 1960s, the Amish had several disagreements with the state concerning their children's education. But most important, they did not believe their children should be required to attend school past the age of 16. Learn how the issue made it to the Supreme Court, which conflicting liberties were considered, and why the Court decided in favor of the parents.
The Evolving Right to Marry
13. The Evolving Right to Marry
January 3, 2020
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.
The Lenny Bruce Trials
12. The Lenny Bruce Trials
January 3, 2020
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.
Segregation on Trial
11. Segregation on Trial
January 3, 2020
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.
Korematsu v. United States
10. Korematsu v. United States
January 3, 2020
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.
Jehovah's Witnesses and Flag-Salute Cases
9. Jehovah's Witnesses and Flag-Salute Cases
January 3, 2020
Between 1938 and 1946, the Supreme Court handed down 23 opinions involving civil liberties issues raised by Jehovah's Witnesses. Explore two of those cases, both of which address whether or not Jehovah's Witnesses can be forced to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. Learn why the Court came down first on one side of the issue, and then the other.
The Sweet Trials, Race, and Self-Defense
8. The Sweet Trials, Race, and Self-Defense
January 3, 2020
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.
The Trial of the Haymarket Eight
6. The Trial of the Haymarket Eight
January 3, 2020
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.
The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
5. The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
January 3, 2020
Susan B. Anthony believed she was a citizen of the United States according to the Fourteenth Amendment and, as such, had the right to vote. But in 1872, the law was not on her side. So when she dropped her ballot into the box at the West End New Depot in Rochester, NY, on Election Day, she was arrested. Learn about the trial that brought nationwide attention to the issue of women's suffrage.
The Trial of John Brown
4. The Trial of John Brown
January 3, 2020
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.
Two Slave Trials
3. Two Slave Trials
January 3, 2020
The citizens of the newly formed United States could not agree on the overall moral issue of slavery, but they were willing to take up its more narrow legal issues. Gain a greater understanding of the many ways in which the legal system supported the institution of slavery by examining the trials of two slaves: Anthony Burns and Celia (no last name).
The Trial of John Peter Zenger
2. The Trial of John Peter Zenger
January 3, 2020
Freedom of speech was not a recognized liberty in the early years of American colonies. Speech critical of the powers that be could land one in legal trouble, even if everyone involved agreed the statements were true. Explore the colonial history of the press freedom, voter suppression, and attempts to influence juries as they all came together to affect the libel trial of John Peter Zenger.
The Trial of Anne Hutchinson
1. The Trial of Anne Hutchinson
January 3, 2020
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
Description

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 to Watch Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom

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

  • Premiere Date
    January 3, 2020