Liberty: Natural Rights and the American Constitution

Podcast-style audio course - 15 Topics
Length: 5 hrs and 49 mins
University of Notre Dame
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Audio Download + Subscription
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Audio Download + Subscription
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Audio Sample:

Much of the political life of the United States takes the form of contests about rights. This passion for liberty was forged and stoked by the nation’s foundational documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

Now you can join esteemed political scientist Professor Michael Zuckert for a fascinating exploration of America’s enduring passion for rights as sparked by these two documents. The Nancy R. Dreux Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Notre Dame, Prof. Zuckert was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Miller Center for his many contributions to American political scholarship.

In 15 gripping audio lectures, Prof. Zuckert examines the doctrine of rights as it finds first expression in these early documents, exploring American thinking about rights from the founding up to recent battles over controversial rights such as the right to same-sex marriage. He reveals not only the transformational effect of these documents on U.S. national identity, but also their ripple effect in constitutions throughout the world.

By following the thread of rights language throughout Ameri

Much of the political life of the United States takes the form of contests about rights. This passion for liberty was forged and stoked by the nation’s foundational documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

Now you can join esteemed political scientist Professor Michael Zuckert for a fascinating exploration of America’s enduring passion for rights as sparked by these two documents. The Nancy R. Dreux Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Notre Dame, Prof. Zuckert was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Miller Center for his many contributions to American political scholarship.

In 15 gripping audio lectures, Prof. Zuckert examines the doctrine of rights as it finds first expression in these early documents, exploring American thinking about rights from the founding up to recent battles over controversial rights such as the right to same-sex marriage. He reveals not only the transformational effect of these documents on U.S. national identity, but also their ripple effect in constitutions throughout the world.

By following the thread of rights language throughout American political documents alongside Prof. Zuckert, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the American emphasis on rights protections. You’ll also heighten your awareness of the nation’s failure to protect the rights of certain of its citizens throughout history and the ways in which this has—and hasn’t—been rectified by further rights legislation.

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Michael Zuckert is the Nancy R. Dreux Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University. He received his undergraduate education at Cornell University and his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1974. The bulk of his teaching and scholarship has been in the areas of American political thought, American constitutionalism and constitutional law, and early modern political philosophy.

Michael Zuckert has published extensively in those areas with books including Natural Rights and the New Republicanism (Princeton University Press, 1994) and The Natural Rights Republic (University of Notre Dame Press, 1996). He is also author and co-producer of the public radio drama Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson, a play based on the correspondence between these two leading members of the founding generation. He served as a senior scholar for a public television series about the American Revolution titled Liberty! and as advisor to the PBS series Benjamin Franklin (2002) and Alexander Hamilton (2007). For his work on rights, liberty, and the Constitution, Prof. Zuckert has won many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Miller Center.

Praise for Michael Zuckert

“Michael Zuckert is a great scholar and a great teacher. No one has a better understanding of the deep sources of our constitutional tradition; no one can articulate them more eloquently.”
– Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History Emeritus, University of Virginia

“Michael Zuckert is my favorite scholar of early American political thought. In contrast to many political scientists, his close attention to historical context and willingness to look way beyond the most visible texts have enabled him not only to win the respect and admiration of historians but also to make genuine and important contributions to historical knowledge that they cannot ignore.”
– Jack P. Greene, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University

“Another superb contribution from one of America’s greatest political theorists. Michael Zuckert makes the constitution accessible for all.”
– Gordon S. Wood, Professor of History Emeritus, Brown University

  • Of Rights
  • Orders of Rights
  • The Rights of Man
  • Natural Rights, Constitutionalism, and the Bill of Rights
  • The New Constitution and the Bill of Rights
  • The New Republicanism and the Bill of Rights
  • Modern Constitutionalism and the Bill of Rights
  • Parchment Barrier or Effective Protector of Rights?
  • Slavery and the Bill of Rights
  • The Reconstruction Amendments and the Bill of Rights: Part 1
  • The Reconstruction Amendments and the Bill of Rights: Part 2
  • Taming the 14th Amendment
  • Rights after the 14th Amendment
  • The Triumph of Value Judgments
  • Beyond Rights

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