'This Week' Transcript: The Battle for the Constitution

AMANPOUR: For instance, the First Amendment, the controversial in some quarters ruling by the Supreme Court this week regarding violent video games for children. There are many parents who have been sort of outraged about that, and yet, it's framed in a basic First Amendment right. Is that an example of something that is obvious? It should be like that? Or is that also part of the struggle to figure out how to match 200 years with today?

LEPORE: I think it was important not to collapse the distance between 200 years and today and to understand all the history that's come in between the two. There's this great moment, in Franklin's writings when he says, if I could be preserved in a vat of madeira wine and be reawakened in 100 or 200 years, I would really like to see how this country turns out.

AMANPOUR: Wouldn't you also say, and you wrote about this, he was amazingly perspicacious when this Constitution was signed. He stood up and he said, well, I don't know whether it's the best, it might be the best, and because it might be--

LEPORE: A lot of these guys were really -- they were very conscious of the judgment of posterity. They really thought a lot about how this document would be understood. We're talking (inaudible) Franklin, who was going to make a joke about it, you know, talking about madeira wine, but you know, he did not preserve himself. He is not available for us. But what he did sort of to make sure to put into the record of the proceedings on that last day when the Constitution was signed, you know, this quip about he stole from someone -- always with the jokes -- that you know, the only difference between the Church of England and the Church of Rome is that the former is infallible and the latter is never wrong.

This was Franklin trying to say, we -- I will change my mind. If I were around long enough -- I am at the end of my years here -- I would change my mind. And so other people will change their minds, and that is how this document works.

STENGEL: He said right after that, remember, in that speech, he said, let us all doubt a little of our own infallibility. That's great advice for our politics now, because this discussion of the Constitution that happens between the Tea Party, between progressives, between everybody, everybody thinks that they have the God's honest truth about this, that there's absolutely one way of interpreting it. Even Franklin, the founding, founding father said let us doubt a little of our own infallibility. That's what the Constitution is for. When Marshall said, it's basically you have to adapt it to the current times, he set that in motion for the rest of our history. I think we do have to adapt it.

AMANPOUR: I want to get your final thoughts through the process of asking each of you which is your favorite founding father. Who is your favorite founding father and why?

STENGEL: Well, I would have to say, Madison, because he really was -- not because he was the shortest founding father -- he was only 5'2 by the way -- but he really was the architect of the Constitution. And he tried to balance the more centralized vision of Hamilton and the more decentralized vision of Jefferson. And because the document ultimately was and probably is the greatest product of compromise in human history.

AMANPOUR: Compromise, isn't that a word we hear a lot right now? Jill, your favorite.

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