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Civics 101
Civics 101

How do landmark Supreme Court decisions affect our lives? What does the 2nd Amendment really say? Why does the Senate have so... more

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The Second Amendment

What does it say, what does it mean, what did it mean when it was written, and does it even... more

18 Jun 2024 · 46 minutes
What's up with those flags?

The history of Don't Tread on Me, An Appeal to Heaven, and the Inverted flag.

11 Jun 2024 · 30 minutes
Strikes, Unions and Workers' Rights

The American worker gets organized.

04 Jun 2024 · 1 hour, 7 minutes
Why do we have the National Zoo?

Why do we own a zoo? We do, by the way. It's the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC.

28 May 2024 · 28 minutes
What's it like to report on Congress?

How do you get the truth from consummate storytellers?

21 May 2024 · 22 minutes
Why ballot design matters

From putting a marble in a jar to pulling a lever to filling in an oval, what is the history... more

14 May 2024 · 33 minutes
What is Money?

When you trade a cow for a teapot and can't make change.

07 May 2024 · 20 minutes
A city government, a looming disaster, and a complicated choice

Your local government is the one you have to pay really close attention to. Especially when part of their job... more

30 Apr 2024 · 30 minutes
"I see a temple that we built."

Hannah tells Nick what it's like to have real access to the Supreme Court. And then the pair pays a... more

26 Apr 2024 · 34 minutes
Why are we printing so much paper money? (D.C. field trip dispatch)

The Civics 101 team's D.C. field trip takes them all kinds of places, including inside the highest court in the... more

26 Apr 2024 · 27 minutes
The Constitution is not vegan! (D.C. field trip dispatch)

The team is in Washington D.C. making episodes...and we're learning some wild stuff.

24 Apr 2024 · 18 minutes
Why is Marbury v. Madison in Trump’s Supreme Court brief?

There's a landmark SCOTUS decision from two centuries ago that could end up influencing Donald Trump's current Supreme Court case.... more

23 Apr 2024 · 46 minutes
What do the RNC and DNC do?

The Republican and Democratic National Committees used to be "the chair and his/her briefcase." But what do they do now?

16 Apr 2024 · 26 minutes
How to file your taxes

Deductions, credits, W2s, audits. It's complicated out there, so we break it down.

09 Apr 2024 · 37 minutes
Why do we pay income taxes, again?

Paying income taxes is a civic responsibility... but it hasn't always been. Where did it start, and where is it... more

09 Apr 2024 · 35 minutes
Promises, Promises: What Biden and Trump are saying they'll do if elected

Forget the rhetoric and hysterical political ads! Host Hannah McCarthy did the research, and she runs down all of the... more

02 Apr 2024 · 44 minutes
How did Lochner v. New York end up on the naughty list?

Everybody agrees it's bad, nobody agrees on why.

26 Mar 2024 · 40 minutes
How Can The Government Ban TikTok?

TikTok - an app with around 170 Million American users - is under intense scrutiny by the U.S. government, including... more

18 Mar 2024 · 20 minutes
Can the Supreme Court save us from ourselves?

What really happens when the Supreme Court decides something? What are the limits on their powers? And what can we... more

12 Mar 2024 · 24 minutes
Amending the Constitution

The process for changing the Supreme Law of the Land.

05 Mar 2024 · 18 minutes
What's Going On With Civics Education?

Have we ever agreed upon a narrative for our nation that we can teach American students?

27 Feb 2024 · 55 minutes
Extra Credit: How to Argue Against Disinformation; Trump Trials Update

How do you have a legitimate discussion with someone who has the facts wrong? And what's going on with all... more

20 Feb 2024 · 31 minutes
What Are Presidential Pardons?

Can presidents pardon themselves?

13 Feb 2024 · 28 minutes
How Should We Govern the Algorithm?

How are algorithms deciding our fate and what is the country doing about it?

06 Feb 2024 · 47 minutes
What is Federalist 10?

It's lauded as the most significant of the Federalist Papers, those 85 essays which defended our Constitution and encouraged it's... more

30 Jan 2024 · 22 minutes
Election 2024: What Is Happening?

Everything you gotta know this year.

23 Jan 2024 · 23 minutes
How much do government employees get paid?

How much do we pay our government employees? Who gets the most? And, more importantly, what kind of money do... more

16 Jan 2024 · 22 minutes
Rumors and Lies, the American Version

The truth is out there.

09 Jan 2024 · 57 minutes
Expulsion from Congress

Former Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has become the sixth person to be expelled from the House in US history. How... more

02 Jan 2024 · 19 minutes
Can we fix school lunch?

The problems with school meals range from unappetizing food to shaming children. Are we doing anything about it?

26 Dec 2023 · 40 minutes
The Politics of School Lunch

How we decided to feed kids in America's schools.

19 Dec 2023 · 33 minutes
Does Santa Break The Law?

One our favorite subjects in recent memory: is Santa's method of present delivery... legal?

12 Dec 2023 · 23 minutes
What is a Federal Holiday?

What makes a holiday a federal holiday?

05 Dec 2023 · 24 minutes
Term Limits for Congress?

Voters love the idea of term limits for Congress, so why don't we have them? And would they deliver on... more

28 Nov 2023 · 27 minutes
What is the Order of Succession?

If the President and Vice President are both unable to hold office, who comes next?

21 Nov 2023 · 23 minutes
SCOTUS Watchlist

A brief summary of what's on the Supreme Court docket.

14 Nov 2023 · 29 minutes
What powers does the Speaker of the House have?

It's sometimes referred to as the second-most powerful job in Washington DC. Learn about the powers and history of the... more

07 Nov 2023 · 21 minutes
The After School Satan Club

The Satanic Temple brings 1st Amendment questions to town.

31 Oct 2023 · 22 minutes
Heather Cox Richardson on the State of America

Author and historian Heather Cox Richardson on her new book, Democracy Awakening.

24 Oct 2023 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
The National Weather Service

What is the federal government's role in predicting the weather?

17 Oct 2023 · 31 minutes
Separation of Church and State

The words "separation of church and state" might not be in our constitution, but the idea certainly is.

10 Oct 2023 · 29 minutes
BONUS: American Girl Dolls and YOU

We hear from friends, and one very special social media account, about American Girl then and now.

04 Oct 2023 · 27 minutes
What Are Government Shutdowns?

How do shutdowns happen? Why do they happen? How are they prevented, and who do they affect?

03 Oct 2023 · 24 minutes
A (Sorta) Civics Trivia Battle

Hannah, Rebecca, and Christina duke it out in three rounds of (sort of) civics trivia.

26 Sep 2023 · 26 minutes
Did American Girl Dolls Do Right By History? (Part 2)

This episode of Civics 101 is the second chapter of a story about American Girl dolls, and what this beloved... more

19 Sep 2023 · 48 minutes
Did American Girl Dolls Do Right By History? (Part 1)

For so many of us, American Girl dolls were more than just toys. They’re how we learned about the past.... more

19 Sep 2023 · 41 minutes
Classified Documents

Our government has hundreds of millions of secrets.

12 Sep 2023 · 32 minutes
What is RICO?

What are RICO charges? Why do we have them? And how does a RICO case differ from a more run-of-the... more

05 Sep 2023 · 21 minutes
The Republican and Democratic Parties

What are the origin stories of our two parties? How have they evolved? And what is "realignment" anyways?

29 Aug 2023 · 41 minutes
Civics Education 2: When the Curriculum is Against the Law

When curricula, parents, legislators, students, and teachers collide.

22 Aug 2023 · 29 minutes
What Is (or Was) Affirmative Action?

What happens when race is, and then suddenly isn't, a factor in college admissions?

15 Aug 2023 · 36 minutes
When Espionage Means The Death Penalty

The only two people executed for violating the Espionage Act during peacetime.

08 Aug 2023 · 26 minutes
The Presidential Records Act

What are presidential records? And to whom do they belong?

01 Aug 2023 · 36 minutes
What Moore v Harper Means for Elections

Shutting down the Independent State Legislator theory.

25 Jul 2023 · 22 minutes
Civics Education 1: What Do We Teach?

Who decides what gets taught in a classroom? Is it the teachers? The parents? The state? When did it all... more

18 Jul 2023 · 28 minutes
America's "War on Drugs"

You probably associate the so-called "War on Drugs" with the Reagans. Or maybe, more correctly, with the Nixon administration. But... more

11 Jul 2023 · 40 minutes
What Is "The Shadow Docket?"

Today we learn about the Supreme Court decisions that we don't hear much about; the "shadow docket."

04 Jul 2023 · 22 minutes
How Have Supreme Court Arguments Changed?

Justices are talking more than ever - but what are they saying?

27 Jun 2023 · 39 minutes
Socialism, Communism, Fascism

Today we define three of the most used -isms in the media, and explore why we have -isms in the... more

20 Jun 2023 · 28 minutes
The 14th Amendment

Citizenship, equal protection, due process and... debt?

12 Jun 2023 · 37 minutes
Supreme Court Ethics

Supreme Court justices are supposed to keep themselves removed from political bias or influence. But who makes sure they're actually... more

06 Jun 2023 · 32 minutes
What's the Debt Ceiling and the National Debt?

What's the deal with the debt ceiling, anyway?

30 May 2023 · 23 minutes
The Fairness Doctrine

Being fair and balanced on TV and the radio wasn't just a good idea, it was the law.

23 May 2023 · 22 minutes
BONUS: Talking to Kids About the News

We spoke with Ryan Willard from The Ten News for tips on talking with younger kids about the news.

19 May 2023 · 9 minutes
Reconstruction: The Laws of the Land

The laws, policies and legal cases that worked for and against Reconstruction.

16 May 2023 · 53 minutes
Reconstruction: The Big Lie

The true history of America's first Civil Rights era.

08 May 2023 · 53 minutes
Reconstruction: Why We Didn't Learn About It

Why America doesn't learn about our first Civil Rights Era.

02 May 2023 · 38 minutes
Defamation, Libel, and Dominion, Oh My!

Today we explain all the legalities surrounding the Dominion v Fox News lawsuit. We break down defamation, slander, libel, discovery,... more

23 Apr 2023 · 28 minutes
US vs: Freedom

How free IS the land of the free? We talk with the co-author of the Human Freedom Index, Ian Vasquez,... more

18 Apr 2023 · 25 minutes
How Can The Government Ban An App?

Can the government really ban a whole business? What does that mean and how does it happen?

11 Apr 2023 · 17 minutes
How Do Indictments and Grand Juries Work?

Today we go through the definitions and processes involved in the recent indictment of Donald Trump. We explain grand juries,... more

02 Apr 2023 · 22 minutes
Jury Duty: What To Expect When You Get That Summons

Do the reasons some people want to avoid jury duty have merit? Why is jury duty so important? And what... more

28 Mar 2023 · 42 minutes
Who Writes Bills?

Who writes most bills in Congress? What are they really about? And how do special interest groups factor into all... more

21 Mar 2023 · 23 minutes
Paying Income Taxes

Our income tax system was modeled on the idea of everyone paying their "fair share." But in practice?

14 Mar 2023 · 37 minutes
A Primary Battle

For decades, one state has had the privilege of going first in the presidential primary process. Now, that state is... more

07 Mar 2023 · 42 minutes
Who owns the sky?

Our friends from Outside/In bring the story of property rights in air and space.

28 Feb 2023 · 36 minutes
The 2008 Financial Crisis Explained

Millions lost their homes, giant institutions collapsed and a global recession began. This is the story of what the American... more

21 Feb 2023 · 55 minutes
Why Do We Have an Income Tax?

Most Americans need help to file our tax return each year - about 90% of people use technology like Turbo... more

14 Feb 2023 · 38 minutes
What's Up With The Space Force?

What does the U.S. Space Force do, and why was the nation's newest military branch created?

07 Feb 2023 · 39 minutes
The Government and Housing: Policy

How the federal government used policy to segregate housing.

31 Jan 2023 · 25 minutes
The Government and Housing: One City's Story

Housing policy, space and political power in Atlanta, Georgia.

31 Jan 2023 · 34 minutes
Federal Courts: Muhammad Ali and the Draft

The last of our series on famous federal court trials, US v Cassius Clay was a polarizing case about conscientious... more

24 Jan 2023 · 39 minutes
The Last State To Hold Out Against Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The ugly and inspiring story of what it took for all of America to honor a singular Black life.

16 Jan 2023 · 57 minutes
The Life of a Political Operative

An excerpt from a live conversation with Huma Abedin, top aide and advisor to Hillary Clinton.

10 Jan 2023 · 29 minutes
The Lavender Scare

The Cold War hysteria over communism was known as the Red Scare. But what was the Lavender Scare? We dig... more

03 Jan 2023 · 42 minutes
How the Government Makes a Holiday

There may be only 12 federal holidays, but we come up with hundreds of reasons to celebrate.

27 Dec 2022 · 26 minutes
Is Santa a Criminal?

In an uncharacteristic wash of holiday cheer, today we investigate how the actions of Santa could be interpreted in a... more

20 Dec 2022 · 23 minutes
The President & The 25th Amendment

What happens when a president is no longer able to do the job?

13 Dec 2022 · 25 minutes
Who gets to run for president?

What does the Constitution say about who is allowed to be president?

06 Dec 2022 · 20 minutes

What is propaganda? How is it different from persuasion? And how has the US government used it, from the revolution... more

29 Nov 2022 · 29 minutes
Post-Presidency Perks

A cushy lifetime parting gift.

22 Nov 2022 · 30 minutes
The White House Press Corps & The Press Secretary

What's the deal with all those reporters in the White House? And what's the job of White House Press Secretary... more

15 Nov 2022 · 40 minutes
Are We A Democracy? Or Are We A Republic?

There's a complaint we get pretty often around here, that our tagline contains the word "democracy," but the United States... more

08 Nov 2022 · 23 minutes
American Myths Part Two: Progress

The three myths that tell us how things are going to be for each and every American.

01 Nov 2022 · 22 minutes
American Myths Part One: Origins

Four myths that we handpicked for our origin story.

01 Nov 2022 · 36 minutes
Host v Host: A Trivia Battle of Wits

Nick and Hannah face up against their greatest fear: whether they've learned anything hosting this show.

25 Oct 2022 · 39 minutes
Civics 101 Presents: Future Hindsight on the Asian American Vote

A conversation about civic life and stereotypes as Asian American in the U.S. from our friends at Future Hindsight.

18 Oct 2022 · 37 minutes
Nina Totenberg Live On Stage

An excerpt from a live conversation with NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.

11 Oct 2022 · 36 minutes
Taking the Fifth: When What You Say Could Be Used Against You

What does "taking the Fifth" mean? If you've been suspected of a crime, how and when do you use your... more

04 Oct 2022 · 45 minutes

Why do elected and appointed officials take oaths? What do they mean? And what happens if somebody breaks that oath?

27 Sep 2022 · 21 minutes
Federal Courts: The Trial of the Chicago 7

The story of how eight protesters (yup, eight) ended up in federal court on conspiracy charges and proceeded to turn... more

20 Sep 2022 · 49 minutes
How Powerful Is The President's Veto?

Just think about the kinds of powers the President has: they command the armed forces, have access to the nuclear... more

13 Sep 2022 · 30 minutes
Disinformation and Misinformation

How do lies get spread before an election in order to influence it?

06 Sep 2022 · 34 minutes
What's The Difference Between The House & The Senate?

And what does it mean to control one, the other, or both?

30 Aug 2022 · 31 minutes
Federal Courts: Espionage and the Rosenbergs

Since its passage after World War I, thousands of people have been investigated for violating the Espionage Act, including Julian... more

23 Aug 2022 · 26 minutes
Everything You Need to Know About Midterms

The five whats and whys of the midterm election.

16 Aug 2022 · 23 minutes
Federal Courts: Our First Treason Trial

Today we're opening our new series on famous trials in the Federal Courts. In this case, United States v Burr,... more

09 Aug 2022 · 27 minutes
What is the National Debt?

The federal government has always had debt. How much is too much, and how do politicians exploit it?

02 Aug 2022 · 23 minutes
How to Vote

Voting in America isn't always straightforward. So, here's some of what you need to know.

26 Jul 2022 · 20 minutes
Why You Should Vote (Even When They Don't Want You To)

We're supposed to vote because our government is "by the people" (we vote officials into office) and "for the people"... more

26 Jul 2022 · 23 minutes
Civics 101
Disinformation and Misinformation
Civics 101

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How do lies get spread before an election in order to influence it?