This entertaining and surprising podcast episode from Radiolab explores questions of jurisdiction and authority when it comes to federal and state power…and throws in some lurid (but SFW) tales to illustrate the concepts presented in the piece.

James Madison considered the early document of the Constitution to be “riddled with compromise,” with matters of jurisdiction between state and federal governments frequently left vague. Eventually he came to consider the Constitution to be, rather than a prescriptive set of answers for the young nation, a “framework for argument” that would act as a living (and changing) document well into the future.

Even today, local, state and federal entities work within frameworks that are ambiguous and sometimes face disagreements and public misunderstandings about who is, or should be, in charge. Is the ambiguity of power under the U.S. Constitution an asset to democracy, as Madison came around to thinking, or is it a barrier to decision-making and effective governance? These questions, and more like them, are discussed in a breezy 22 minute thought piece.

Listen in below, or click here to tune in to the episode titled ‘Sex, Ducks & the Founding Feud.’

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