Introduction

By Chen, Jim | Constitutional Commentary, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

Introduction


Chen, Jim, Constitutional Commentary


Time travel and chaos theory are staples of science fiction. In Ray Bradbury's "The Sound of Thunder," for example, a big-game hunter travels back 100 million years to bag a Tyrannosaurus rex but inadvertently stomps a butterfly on re-entering his time machine.(1) This single incidental taking of ancient wildlife radically changes the world to which the hunter returns.

Constitutional Commentary is no stranger to this fantastic genre. This journal has already pondered whether cyborg assassins sent back in time can change the course of history.(2) Law professors might not have the box office receipts to rival Back to the Future, The Terminator, or Jurassic Park, but we can fantasize with Hollywood's best about the chaotic consequences of deliberate temporal mismatches.

This symposium extends this parlor game into the realm of constitutional law. We have offered [eighteen] constitutional scholars the opportunity to ride a highly unusual time machine. Each rider may choose any single development in American constitutional history -- an amendment, an episode at the Constitutional Convention, a case, even a Supreme Court appointment -- and erase it utterly from legal memory. …

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