When I watched the educational DVD from Goldhil and Full Circle Films, dating back to 2004, “United States Bill of Rights and Constitutional Amendments”, from its “Just the Facts Learning Series”, I felt like I was back in the public school system, substitute teaching as I did (in two periods) from 2004-2007. This DVD could very well have been the “busywork” for the day in a Va, and US Government or even US History class. I don’t recall it, however. I rented it from Netflix. I could not find a current website for the company but here is a typical retail link for the DVD.
A narrator, and law professors Robert Hennig and Priscilola Zotti explain all the amendments to the US Constitution in straightforward fashion.
Many people, for example, don’t know that many of the framers did not believe we needed a Bill of Rights, which were ratified in 1791. Also, a lot of people don’t know that the 27th Amendment (giving District of Columbia residents the right to vote in presidential elections with as many electors as the least populous state) was written by James Madison, but could actually be ratified in 1992 because there is no time limit.
The film (running about forty minutes) takes no-nonsense positions on controversy, pointing out that the Second Amendment did originate in a climate where states had organized militia locally, and that it does not give people the right to arm themselves gratuitously with military-style weapons (or nuclear weapons, as mentioned specifically in the DVD).
The DVD attempts a beginner’s explanation of the “incorporation doctrine”, with the 14th Amendment, where the guarantee that the federal government cannot take away certain fundamental rights is extended to the states, but not consistently.
The DVD includes a 20-second multiple choice quiz, which one has to click through. The detractors in the questions are tricky, so students would have to be careful. It could be easy to get a bad grade in a public school with a typical 90-80-70-60 (or stiffer) grading scale.
On the cover of my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book, self-published in 1997, I had mistakenly said the Bill of Rights was 160 years old, when 200 years would have been much closer. It’s not a good idea to put a number like this on the cover of a book. That problem was fixed with the 2000 iUniverse printing.
In my second DADT book (“When Liberty Is Stressed”, 2002), I discussed the idea of a “Bill of Rights 2” and talked about the constitutional amending process (not covered on the DVD), online link here.amendments could anchor the “right to privacy”. In Chapter 6 of my first DADT book, I had proposed “28th” and “29th” amendments. The “28th was structured to prevent any government from interfering with adult sexual privacy and had many provisions. It was not as protective as free speech on the Internet as it might have been, as I explain in the book. The 29th amendment was actually conceived as a 90s-era attempt to encourage states to experiment with gay marriage by putting DOMA-like limits on federal recognition, but we all know what happened to that idea with the Supreme Court in 2013.
As I have covered on other blogs, I think we have real potential issues with the question of whether unsupervised self-broadcast of one’s speech ought to be regarded as a fundamental right, as in the recent debate over Section 230. But many court opinions, even in the Supreme Court, have tended to support this view, as with the litigation a few years ago over COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, against which I was an indirect plaintiff through Electronic Frontier Foundation