Sven Frenzel—ABC/Getty Images
By Ryan Teague Beckwith
December 2, 2016

If James Madison were alive today, he might be working as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

TV dramas can’t get enough of obscure constitutional scenarios. On Scandal, an unsuccessful assassination attempt left the vice president temporarily in charge of the Oval Office. On Veep, a tie in the Electoral College sent the election to the House of Representatives. And on Designated Survivor, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was sworn in after a terrorist attack.

And that’s not to mention just about everything on House of Cards.

But while these plotlines may seem a bit over the top, legal scholars say they are a useful way to tease out some of the weak points in the U.S. Constitution for a broader audience. Given the events of recent years—an impeachment, the Supreme Court intervening in a crucial election recount and recent talk of contested conventions and faithless electors—they may not be as implausible as they sound.

“It may be one of those areas where reality is getting a little bit ahead of fiction,” notes Ilya Somin, constitutional law professor at George Mason University.

With that in mind, TIME talked with legal experts about their favorite constitutional scenarios. Here’s a look at seven that Hollywood could use for dramatic effect, and how we imagine they might be put to good use:

Contact us at editors@time.com.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

You May Like