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I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Forthcoming Series Worth Watching

THE SUPREME COURT: First Major Series to Examine America's Highest Court to Air on PBS During 2006-07 Season

Thirteen/WNET New York Produces Four-Part Series
Exploring the Court's History, Evolution and Impact on U.S. Society

New York Life Underwrites Broadcast Series and Educators' Website

'We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only
because we are final.'
- Robert H. Jackson, Supreme Court Justice

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- PBS Press Tour -- Perhaps no
institution has been the subject of more drama, controversy and debate than
The United States Supreme Court. The site of immense power and considerable
mystery, America's final court of appeal has helped author the history of
America. But even though it is one of the pillars of American democracy, no
television series has profiled the workings of the Court and the Justices who
shaped it. Until now.
THE SUPREME COURT is the first major television series to trace the story
and influence of America's highest court. Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York,
the series will be a major PBS presentation airing during the 2006-07
broadcast season (exact dates to be announced later). It will be supported by
an ambitious national outreach effort, including a companion Web site on as well a companion book by Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George
Washington University Law School, and published by Times Books, an imprint of
Henry Holt and Company.
The series' sole corporate sponsor is New York Life Insurance Company,
which has also committed to fund a comprehensive educators' Web site to
encourage social studies teachers to emphasize the role of the Court in
shaping and reshaping the American way of life. The series is also supported
by a grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which
provides for educational materials that will extend the impact of the series
into a classroom context.
"Now is the ideal moment to explore the history and impact of the Supreme
Court," said John F. Wilson, senior vice president, PBS Programming. "With the
recent appointment of a new Chief Justice and the congressional hearings for a
new Associate Justice, Americans are paying heightened attention to the
Supreme Court. This series, which will debut just as the new Court begins to
make its mark, promises to offer American viewers invaluable insight into what
is perhaps the least-understood branch of our government."
"From the Civil War and Reconstruction to desegregation and the Civil
Rights Movement, the history of the Supreme Court is the history of America,"
said Jody Sheff, executive producer of the series. "Many see the Court as a
monolithic institution removed from the volatility of everyday life. But in
this series we will lift the curtains and discover the personalities and
power-plays of those mysterious figures on the high bench. And we will explore
the dramatic stories of the individuals whose cases have come before the court
to shape the laws of our land."
Over four hours, the series will trace the Court's evolution from its
establishment to the present day. It will do so by focusing on the temperament
and constitutional vision of key Justices and the key cases throughout our
history. The chronicle will explore the continuing struggle over how the Court
defines its role and manifests its powers. As Alexander Hamilton put it, "with
neither sword nor purse," this least known branch of government has had to
walk a fine line to enforce its decisions. The programs will elucidate the
shifting yet delicate balance between the executive, legislative and judicial
branches of the federal government. Numerous accounts will highlight the
complex and explosive collisions between the Court and the presidency.
Portraits of many key figures -- presidents, justices, attorneys, plaintiffs,
and defendants -- will illustrate how all Americans, both the powerful and the
penniless, have been able to have their day in court -- the results of which
have sometimes made a lasting change on our culture and society.
Program One -- "The Least Dangerous Branch" (w.t.) -- will examine the
creation of the Court and follows it up through the brink of the Civil War. It
will pay particular attention to the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
-- John Marshall -- and to his successor, Roger Taney. One presided over the
most famous case before the Court, the other the most infamous.
Program Two -- "Making America Modern" (w.t.) -- will explore the issues
before the Court during the period after the Civil War when America
experienced unprecedented economic growth. Culminating in the cases of the
New Deal, the program will cover the evolution in judicial activism from
Justice Stephen Field to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Here the complex
struggle of power between business interests and the rights of the individual
worker takes center stage, as does the fight for racial and gender equality
against the backdrop of Reconstruction and the Industrial Revolution.
Program Three -- "By the Content of Their Character" (w.t.) -- will focus
on the Court's reaction to state and federal legislation on Bill of Rights
freedoms, with special attention to the explosion of civil rights cases from
the early 1940s to the present. This program will highlight the Warren Court
as it confronts the issues of race, gender, and religion.
Program Four -- "With Liberty and Justice for All" (w.t.) -- will review
how the Court has undertaken to define individual rights or civil liberties in
America. This last hour of the series will investigate how the Court,
especially under the leadership of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, has risen
in importance to become the institution most responsible for resolving the
central questions of American life.

Educational Outreach
Thirteen/WNET will be creating national educational outreach in support of
the series. Outreach and materials will surround the primetime broadcast and
enable viewers to use the series as an educational tool in homes, schools,
libraries, and community groups. The series will be accompanied by a
substantial Web site, a widely distributed viewer's guide, and a companion
book. Workshops will enable teachers to incorporate the series into their
classes, hold mock trials on key Supreme Court cases, and help students
explore the workings of the judicial and political systems in their

Education Website --
New York Life is funding an educator's Web site similar to those it
SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA. Created by teachers all over America,
working in conjunction with recognized academics and in partnership with the
National Council for the Social Studies and the National Archives, the site,, is already online in partial form and is
drawing steady teacher traffic. The site organizes the Court's history and
role along themes drawn from national social studies curriculum standards and
includes original essays, lesson plans, and other resources in addition to a
unique interactive timeline.

Production Credits
THE SUPREME COURT is a HiddenHill Production for Thirteen/WNET New York.
Series producer is Mark Zwonitzer; series director is Thomas Lennon;
cinematographer is Michael Chin; composer is Brian Keane. Producers are Rob
Rapley, Julia Elliott and Jamila Wignot. Executive producer is Jody Sheff.
Executive in charge is William Grant.

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 348
public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people
each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to
television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and
dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award
competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12
teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners.
PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (,
continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for
children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the
leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet, averaging more than 35 million
unique visits and nearly 400 million page views per month in 2005. PBS is
headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.