'CONSTITUTION USA With Peter Sagal': 'It's epic!'

Three of the most majestic, certainly most democratic, words in English are the start of the United States Constitution: "We the people."

To see how the Constitution continues to be brought to life, Peter Sagal of National Public Radio's "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" sets out on a red, white and blue Harley-Davidson and interviews people. The result is PBS' four-week series "CONSTITUTION USA With Peter Sagal," beginning Tuesday, May 7 (check local listings).

"The great thing about 'Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!' is it treats everything with no respect," Sagal tells Zap2it. "This was the opportunity to talk about something I care about without having to make a joke."

What comes through is how seriously people take the Constitution. 

"It's epic!" says Akhil Amar, professor of law and political science at Yale University. "It's actually the most democratic deed in the history of planet Earth."

Sagal examines the history of the document and how it remains relevant. Among the examples of states' rights versus federal law is a medical marijuana supplier in Oakland, Calif., who frets about going to prison. His business, though state sanctioned, is illegal under federal law.

In Missoula, Mont., Sagal talks with a gun enthusiast, Gary Marbut, who believes the federal government is too far-reaching. "The state government is much more subject to the will of the people because it is closer to the people," Marbut says.

"What needs to be taught more, what people need to understand is that the Constitution provides us with a method to answer the question, not the means," Sagal says. "Nothing in the Constitution makes it easy to make it possible."

Sagal reminds us how vibrant the document is by introducing people such as Minnijean Brown Trickey. Now a gray-haired woman, she was one of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High School. Trickey and a soldier who protected her from protesters reunite in front of the high school, living examples of those first three words, "We the people."
Photo/Video credit: PBS