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Columbia Law Review Forum

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This Piece embraces a fictional narrative to illustrate deep flaws in our legal system. It borrows its basic structure and a few choice lines from George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Like Orwell’s novel, it is set in the not-too-distant future to comment on problems already emerging in the present. The footnotes largely provide examples of some of those problems and how courts have treated them in a constitutional law context. The title (itself quite close to Orwell’s own title) is a reference to our chief civil rights statute, while the story deals with a critical threat to that statute. While qualified immunity has long served to prevent recovery for abuses by government employees such as law enforcement, it would be unnecessary if the courts simply refused to acknowledge that the Constitution granted protection against those abuses in the first place. And so, imagine a world where the Constitution’s rights guarantees extended only so far as the most cynical originalist would say they do. It might not be too far from our own.



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