Memo to Peter Jackson, Eugene Volokh, et al.

by Kieran Healy on February 28, 2004

High Concept for a Horror movie: The Constitution really is a living document. Key scenes:

  • Night. CONSTITUTION escapes from display case in Library of Congress. Seen lurking in alleyway off of Mass Ave. Shadows. Attacks and eats Cato Institute INTERN.
  • Day. The NATIONAL GUARD attempt to capture the Constitution on the Mall. Suddenly, ARTICLE III is invoked in a novel way. The GUARDSMEN find themselves guilty of treason and are forced to arrest themselves.
  • Morning. Quiet alley. Constitution hides in a dumpster. We hear it interpreting itself in a high-pitched chatter. BABY AMENDMENTS push up the dumpster lid and escape into the city.
  • A home office. A MAN sits at a computer. The Constitution moves stealthily behind him, past a banner on the wall reading ‘Proud to be a Resident Scholar at the AEI.’ He hears a noise behind him, turns and brandishes a gun. The Constitution quickly reinterprets the SECOND AMENDMENT and the gun disappears. The Man looks at his hand in horror, and then up at the advancing AMENDMENT. Fade Out.
  • Day. Golf Course. The EIGHTH AMENDMENT appears from the heavy rough and devours Justice SCALIA from the legs up. Vice President CHENEY putts to save par, makes some adjustments to Scalia’s scorecard, and smiles quietly to himself.

The linking scenes pretty much write themselves. Call me for a complete synopsis.



Curtiss Leung 02.28.04 at 3:58 am

Amazing! Real genre bending stuff! We could get Tarantino to direct—and I see Mel Gibson cast against type as the establishment clause of the 1st amendment.


bonk 02.28.04 at 4:10 am

Funny stuff. I don’t have any more to say, really, just, nice work. :)


Sarek 02.28.04 at 6:24 am

Love it!

A couple of my own (also on my blog):

A shower. BUXOM WOMAN sings to herself while washing. Hearing something, she turns around just in time to see the CONSTITUTION decide that there is, in fact, no right to privacy.

The Oval Office. The PRESIDENT meets with members of his CABINET to discuss the growing crisis. He orders an attack on the CONSTITUTION. Cut to: Day. A formation of bombers attempts to destroy CONSTITUTION but the attack is foiled when the document literally interprets itself to mean that only Congress can declare war.


digamma 02.28.04 at 1:50 pm

“Captain, the situation has gone from bad to worse! We managed to shoot off its last seven Amendments, but that only illegalized our drinks! If we take off two more Amendments, morale will be hurt when our wives leave us for disenfranchising them!”


jeremia 02.28.04 at 5:31 pm

It is indeed funny. A substantially similar idea was run on SNL maybe 5 years ago. The X-Presidents were called in to subdue the renegade document.


James Joyner 02.29.04 at 2:16 am

Good stuff!

But don’t you mean Amendment III is invoked in a novel way? Not that invoking that in a novel way wouldn’t also be a novel interpretation of Article III. . .


Mr. P 02.29.04 at 2:04 pm

Is there a scene where the Ninth Amendment comes to ROBERT BORK’s house and attacks him with a fountain pen?


Suedama 02.29.04 at 2:44 pm

Scene: OK Corral. Justice Scalia and Living Constitution face off for showdown. As Scalia’s trigger finger twitches nervously, he notices that the Constitution has no weapon. What’s this? The document suddenly begins to glow unnaturally surrounded by a strange luminescence. As the glare gets brighter and brighter, Scalia is blinded. He cries out, “Oh no, the “Penumbra!” He draws his gun and shoots, but his errant shot passes harmlessly through the ever brightening glow around the document. Now at the mercy of the Constitution, the heat from the dreaded Penumbra envelopes Scalia and he is consumed in the terrible fire.


digamma 02.29.04 at 5:50 pm

Robert Loggia stars as the general defending America’s freedom. Jeff Goldblum appears as the geeky law professor/blogger Loggia brings in to explain the situation.

OK, let’s get our strategy in order. What’s the check on the commerce clause?

Check, sir?

Yes Professor, what’s the limit on the clause’s power?

Sir, there is none. We’re not even allowed to grow our own food.

[gravely] Oh my God.


zinc_cola 02.29.04 at 7:31 pm

In 1999, SNL’s animated X-Presidents fought the Constitution in a similar series of events. Can’t find a good link…but its funny stuff.


Blithering Idiot 03.01.04 at 12:58 pm

Wait until Lara and Art*, Liv’s Ma and Pa find out about this. They’ll clean things up in no time.

*I.e., The Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.


Rosa 03.01.04 at 10:17 pm

The only weakness is that the Constitution just isn’t that scary looking. But if the Lord of the Rings Could sweep the Oscars with a lidless eye for a villain, you can write around this. For example–

THE CONSTITUTION is gaining strength in its lair, the IVORY TOWER OF HARVARD-DUR. Until it can assume corporeal form, it acts through its minions:

–THE NINE ACTIVIST JUDGES, or GAVELWRAITHS, (BLACKMUN, MARSHALL, BRENNAN, DOUGLAS, STEVENS, GINSBURG, REINHARDT, BREYER, and the dreaded WITCH-CHIEF-JUSTICE EARL WARREN). They were once mortal justices, but their hearts have been turned to evil by their lust for power.

–THE ARMY OF CULTURAL ELITES, who have already laid waste to not only the land of MASSACHUSETTS (where the shadows lie), but to most of the northeastern kingdom of men–including the once proud garrisons of NEW YORK and PHILADELPHIA. Now they turn their sights on the rest of MIDDLE AMERICA.


–What is THE LIVING CONSTITUTION’s ultimate goal? It’s too terrible to name, but this is surely a sign of things to come.

Meanwhile, on the far western shore of MIDDLE AMERICA, in San Francisco, the ACTIVIST JUDGES have a new ally. The city’s ROGUE MAYOR, GAVIN THE WHITE-TOOTHED, was once a good Irish Catholic boy, but his heart has been corrupted and he now amasses an army of HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS to attack from the west….

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