Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Stateside: Justice Breyer on the US Constitution

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Justice Breyer on the US Constitution

Since last year, the federally funded US education system has observed something called Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. It commemorates the September 17, 1787, signing in Philadelphia of the Constitution of the United States of America. The 2005 federal law declares that on 9/17, every educational body receiving federal funding must hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution. This year, that obligation will be fulfilled on September 18 since the 17th is a Sunday.

The Annenberg Classroom is the top (sponsored) return on a Google search on the subject of Constitution Day by virtue of the resources it has made available for teachers. One of those resources is a video of a Q&A session between high school students and Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, O'Connor and Breyer. You can access the video as a whole or in segments.

Here is a partial transcript of Justice Breyer talking about the Supreme Court's relationship to the Constitution.

"What's at the heart of [the Constitution]? At the heart of it, we [the Justices] think, are institutions through which the ordinary citizen of the United States can express his will: What does he or she want in his community? It's called a law, a statute, a rule for living together, and we have a system in that Constitution where people do that democratically.

"There are boundaries. And at those boundaries, some of them have to do with protecting individual rights. We can't go too far--even democratically--because we're trying to protect those basic rights from tyranny. We insist on a degree of equality. We insist in this Constitution upon a rule of law: people have to follow it. And the Constitution insists on a division of power -- between state governments and federal government, and among three branches of the federal government.

"Those things in a sense, are qualifications: they describe those boundaries of a democratic process. But I think, when you go into it, you'll say basically, That's what this Constitution basically does. And what do we [the Supremes] do? I think of us basically as the boundary patrol. We're patrolling the boundary. When we patrol the boundary, we say whether someone else like the President, or Congress, or others--in the state, so forth--when they went too far.

"But it's one thing to patrol the boundary, and it's another thing to fill up the middle. And filling up the middle is the job of the democratic process. That's the job of you. That's the job of your parents. That's the job of your citizen, every citizen--your friends, and so forth. And that's what the Constitution sets up."

From: and other video at that site.

National Archive resources are at:

The push to celebrate Constitution Day celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and you can read about that here:



© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news