With the writing of the Constitution in 1787, the framers set out a young nation’s highest ideals. And ever since, we’ve been fighting over it — what is in it and what was left out. At the heart of these arguments is the story of America. As a follow-up to the popular Washington Post podcast “Presidential,” reporter Lillian Cunningham returns with this series exploring the Constitution and the people who framed and reframed it — revolutionaries, abolitionists, suffragists, teetotalers, protesters, justices, presidents – in the ongoing struggle to form a more perfect union across a vast and diverse land.

Introducing Moonrise
Jul 19 • 4 min
Host Lillian Cunningham’s next podcast explores the real story of why we went to the moon — a darker, but truer story than the one you’ve heard before. Listen to this trailer, and subscribe on your favorite podcast app or at
Ourselves and our posterity
Feb 12, 2018 • 56 min
In the “Constitutional” finale, we address listener questions about the history—and future—of the nation’s governing document.
The First Amendment
Jan 29, 2018 • 53 min
Why do First Amendment rights trump nearly every other right in America? Thank Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jan 15, 2018 • 46 min
How should the Constitution’s privacy protections be translated for a new era? This is a question before the Supreme Court today, but it was also a question that captivated a justice appointed to the Supreme Court 100 years ago — Louis Brandeis.
Jan 1, 2018 • 54 min
The passage and then repeal of the 18th Amendment, banning alcohol in America, highlighted the pitfalls of trying to legislate against vice.
Dec 18, 2017 • 43 min
Congress today faces the same question it faced a century ago when creating the modern tax system: What kind of society should America be?
The common defense
Dec 4, 2017 • 50 min
One intention the framers had when creating the U.S. Constitution was to “provide for the common defense.” But who shoulders that duty has not always been so clear.
Nov 20, 2017 • 42 min
What was the original point of the Second Amendment? We examine its colonial and revolutionary roots—plus its quiet companion, the Third Amendment—with renowned American history scholar Gordon Wood.
Nov 6, 2017 • 40 min
The words “marriage” and “love” appear nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. Yet 50 years ago, the Supreme Court issued a decision that would embed those concepts in the heart of the document itself.
Fair punishment
Oct 23, 2017 • 52 min
“There is so much feeling of racial injustice around the issue of punishment. And you have to understand that those feelings have a history — and that history is Parchman Farm.”
Fair trials
Oct 9, 2017 • 47 min
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that states must offer a defense attorney to all poor people accused of crimes. The decision transformed the concept of fair trials in America, but left major challenges to the justice system today.
Congress and citizens
Sep 25, 2017 • 40 min
Is it a feature or a bug of the amendment process that an idea of James Madison’s, more than 200 years ago, could be recently resurrected and etched into the U.S. Constitution?
Senate and states
Sep 11, 2017 • 46 min
When the United States changed its process for electing senators, did that lead to a decline in state power? Or did it instead bring us closer to a “more perfect union”?
Aug 28, 2017 • 50 min
From the American Revolution through today, women have been leading a long-burning rebellion to gain rights not originally guaranteed under the Constitution.
Aug 21, 2017 • 53 min
As powerful as it was to change the Constitution after the Civil War, and enshrine racial equality into our governing document, that wasn’t enough to change the reality of life in America.
Aug 14, 2017 • 48 min
What makes someone American? A landmark Supreme Court case in 1898, involving a child born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrant parents, would help answer that question.
Aug 7, 2017 • 42 min
In 1879, a case involving Chief Standing Bear came before a Nebraska courtroom and demanded an answer to the question: Are Native Americans considered human beings under the U.S. Constitution?
Jul 24, 2017 • 64 min
In the premier episode of “Constitutional,” we go back in time to that hot Philadelphia summer in 1787 when a group of revolutionary Americans debated, drank and together drafted the U.S. Constitution.
Introducing ‘Constitutional’
Jun 29, 2017 • 4 min
Preview The Washington Post’s newest podcast, a narrative series about the revolutionary figures who shaped America’s story. Subscribe now to get the first episode when it launches July 24.