Segments in this Video

Conservative Crusade (02:50)


Edwin Meese was Ronald Reagan’s top advisor from his gubernatorial days through the White House. Together they took a hard line against student protests. Meese attempted to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Iran Contra Affair (01:50)

Critics claim Meese is trying to limit constitutional protections of individual rights. He triggered a national debate on the Constitution when he called for the Supreme Court to determine what the founding fathers intended.

Supreme Law of the Land (02:24)

Meese sites language used in the Constitution as one way to determine the intentions of the framers. Fundamental principles of the government structure must be adhered to. Amendments, not judicial interpretation are the way to change the document.

Essential Principles (02:22)

Edmund Randolph was the first Attorney General of the U.S. The Constitution sets out principles and a basic structure of government. Meese explains the different functions of the judiciary and legislative branches in relation to the Constitution.

Federalism (02:18)

Experience, not intent, was used to interpret the Constitution when James Madison signed the bill for the Second Bank of the U.S. Meese believes Roe versus Wade was a legislative issue that should not have been decided by the Supreme Court.

Limitation on President and Congress (03:07)

James Madison and Alexander Hamilton argued over whether or not Article II of the Constitution established the limits of presidential power. Meese does not see this as a sign that the meaning of the document is negotiable.

Boland Amendment (02:05)

Legislation passed by Congress restricted aid to the Nicaraguan rebels in various ways, though aide was eventually approved. Meese responds to the constitutional question that arises from whether or not Reagan violated the legislation.

Law Making Power of Congress (03:13)

Congress cannot act in way that limits the president's constitutional powers. Meese responds to the accusation that the White house circumvented the Boland Amendment.

Political Accountability (01:58)

Meese says the president is accountable to the people, not Congress. Meese responds to the idea that President Reagan did not take proper care to see that the Boland Amendment was executed.

Application of Boland Amendment (04:23)

Meese says it is hard to answer questions about the Iran Contra Affair without the constitutional perspective that will come with having all the evidence. He responds to the opinion Regan committed impeachable offenses.

Solicitor General Bork (03:00)

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the most powerful courtroom in America next to the Supreme Court. President Reagan appointed Robert Bork to the bench. He was one of the foremost advocates of conservative jurisprudence.

Question of Judicial Restraint (02:19)

Robert Bork explains what conservative means in regards to following the intention of the Constitution. In conservative circles there is conflict over whether judges should expand their own values.

Is Justice Random? (01:48)

Judge Bork is one of 11 judges regularly sitting on the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, one of 13 appellate courts in the country. It is a training ground for the Supreme Court. Judges sit in panels of three, picked by the clerk of the court.

Allemand vs Evans (03:04)

Judge Bork discusses a case which caused fellow conservatives to accuse him of judicial activism. In 1979 a professor of political science filed a 6 million libel suit against a newspaper columnist. The decision reflected Bork's concern for society.

Profound Value in General Terms (02:00)

Judge Bork explains that the nature of the libel action has changed over the years. When Bork look for original intent he studies the process or value that the framers of the Constitution were trying to protect.

Freedom of Speech (02:13)

Judge Bork explains why the principles expounded by the founding fathers are more important than modern values. The fundamental values to a free society include free speech, press, and religion; safety in one's home; and right to a jury trial.

Freedom of Political Speech (01:57)

Judge Bork discusses the case of Michael Lebron who wanted to make a statement by displaying his art in subway stations in in Washington D.C. The transit authority refused to sell space for the posters, which criticized president Reagan.

Freedom of Radical Speech (01:57)

Judge Bork explains why he does not perceive pornography to be a freedom of speech intended by the framers of the Constitution. Violent speech is deemed to have value as an indicator of an issue that should be examined by society.

Right of Privacy (01:55)

As a court of appeals justice, Judge Bork feels entirely obliged to follow the precedence that the Supreme Court has issued. The system only works if lower court judges accept the rulings of higher courts, though they may add criticism.

Fundamental Rights and the Military (02:04)

Dronenburg served in the U.S. Navy. Despite his good record, an inquiry board recommended his discharge for "misconduct due to homosexual acts". He sued charging the Navy had violated his Constitutional rights of privacy and equal protection.

Finding Fundamental Rights (04:25)

Judge Bork addresses the 9th Amendment, which protects rights not explicitly specified elsewhere in the Constitution. It may have been intended to stop the federal government from overriding guarantees of freedom in state constitutions.

Credits: Strictly Speaking (02:02)

Credits: Strictly Speaking

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Part of the Series : In Search of the Constitution
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In this program, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and Judge Robert Bork discuss the "original intent" of the framers of the Constitution—on abortion, presidential powers, and big government. Edwin Meese was Ronald Reagan’s top advisor from his gubernatorial days through the White House. He discusses Presidential power and how Congressional law applies—or doesn’t apply—to the Chief Executive. Robert Bork, a Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court, discusses his conservative jurisprudence and how the Constitution describes the Court’s role. (60 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL4912

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9250-9

Copyright date: ©1987

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.