The Devils' Discourse: Can the Constitution Meet Needs of 21st Century America?

In honor of Constitution Day, two students debate its interpretation and applications to modern issues

The US Constitution, the Supreme Court and the main two authors of the Federalist Papers: James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
The US Constitution, the Supreme Court and the main two authors of the Federalist Papers: James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.

Duke’s Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service (POLIS) believes that students do what few politicians will do: offer tough, honest, respectful exchange of different ideas about a central political topic, in this case the interpretation of the most important political document in the country – the US Constitution.

In this episode of The Devil’s Discourse, a POLIS podcast from April 2017, students David Wohlever Sanchez (’19) and Paul Forrester (’19) engage in an unscripted and unedited discussion about our country’s founding document. Their central concern is whether the constitution should be read as a “living document,” changing to meet the needs of the growing American republic, or whether a strict originalist interpretation is needed, based solely on what the founding father authors had in mind. 

That intellectual meditation, however, leads into hearty discussion about specific contemporary political issues, from gun control to freedom from intrusive government searches and surveillance.

The podcast is part of POLIS’ mission to promote constructive dialogue as a vital first step toward jump starting meaningful collaboration and sound policy making during a time of divided American politics. 

You can listen to more POLIS podcast episodes featuring politically thoughtful Duke students here.