Civics 101 Ever wonder what a White House Chief of Staff actually does? How about a Press Secretary? And is gerrymandering still a thing in this country?The first 100 days of the Trump administration is the perfect time to bone up on civics you should have learned in school...but probably didn't. Civics 101 is your podcast guide to what you need to know, when it matters most.
Civics 101

Civics 101

From New Hampshire Public Radio

Ever wonder what a White House Chief of Staff actually does? How about a Press Secretary? And is gerrymandering still a thing in this country?The first 100 days of the Trump administration is the perfect time to bone up on civics you should have learned in school...but probably didn't. Civics 101 is your podcast guide to what you need to know, when it matters most.More from Civics 101 »

Most Recent Episodes

Episode 59 - The Census

In this episode: What is the census, and why does it matter? How is it conducted? How are difficult to reach populations counted? What kind of questions are asked, and how are they determined? Our guest is Joseph Salvo, director of the population division at the New York City Planning Department. For more on the census, check out the segment "Save Our Census" from On The Media, and this episode from the podcast Code Switch.

Episode 58: Government Shutdown

On this episode: What actually shuts down during a government shutdown? Do federal workers still get paid? Who decides what government jobs are essential, and non-essential? What can past government shutdowns tell us about the process? Our guest is Charles Tiefer, law professor at the University of Baltimore.

Episode 57: Commander in Chief

On this episode: What does it mean that the President is 'Commander-in-Chief'? What powers does the Constitution grant him? What is the difference between the President's power to conduct war, versus the power of Congress to declare it? Practically speaking, can the President order specific combat missions? How have the President's war powers changed since Vietnam and 9/11? Our guest is Michael Paulsen, constitutional scholar and professor of law at the University of St. Thomas.

Episode 56: The 1st Amendment - Freedom of Speech

On today's lesson: We take a broader look at the First Amendment, and then zero in on one of the freedoms it covers: the freedom of speech. We'll cover the text of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, and why the framers chose to include so many important freedoms in one sentence. Also, what constitutes 'speech', and how landmark court cases have outlined the importance of context when determining the meaning of our first amendment rights. Our guest is Lata Nott, Executive Director of the Newseum Institute's First Amendment Center.

Episode 55: The Federal Reserve

On today's lesson: What is the Federal Reserve? How important is it? What tools does the Fed use to manage the U.S economy, and why is it organized differently than other government agencies? Our guest is Louise Sheiner, policy director at the Brookings Institution's Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy.

Episode 54: Security Clearance

On today's lesson: How do people receive security clearance to see secret, or top secret government material? Who grants it, and how is that clearance revoked in cases of misuse? Do people with security clearance have unfettered access to secret material, or is classified information compartmentalized? Also, does the President have any restrictions to his security clearance? Today's guest is Juliette Kayyem, national security analyst for CNN and Boston Public Radio, and host of the podcast The Scif.

Episode 53: Judges

On today's lesson: What does it take to become a judge? What does the job entail? Also, what are the schools of thought we hear about so much about in relation to Supreme Court justices: textualism, originalism, and the phrase, "the living constitution"? Our guide is Behzad Mirhashem, from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Episode 52: State of Emergency

Natural disasters, civil unrest, widespread epidemics - these are just some of the unpredictable events that can trigger a President or Governor to declare a special "state of emergency". But what exactly does that mean? Is it symbolic, or logistical? What emergency powers does this special designation authorize? Our guide this week is Kim Lane Scheppele, author of Law in a Time of Emergency.

Episode 51: Treason

For a serious crime, accusations of treason get thrown around a lot - which is why the framers were very specific about what does and doesn't make you an actual traitor. In fact, treason is the only crime explicitly defined in the U.S. Constitution. In this episode, University of California Davis law professor Carlton Larson explains the difference between treason and espionage, and why most of those guilty of treason will never be convicted.

Episode 50: Voting Systems

When you cast your ballot in a national election, you're participating in a specific kind of voting system. But what about the other methods of choosing your candidate and counting your vote? There are systems that approach voting in very different ways... and ways of determining how fair a voting system really is. Producer Hannah McCarthy and Eric Maskin, Harvard Professor of Economics and Nobel Memorial Prize winner, guide us through majorities, pluralities and the ways we make our choices.

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