By Robert A. Vella

Nineteen Eighty-Four World Map

Last month, two justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, three D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges, and two opposing teams of prominent constitutional law attorneys, conducted a mock trial based on George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.  The fictional case was titled Winston vs. Oceania, portraying the protagonist of Orwell’s story (Winston Smith) as plaintiff (in absentia, apparently he had been vaporized!) against the totalitarian superstate Oceania as defendant (headed by outgoing two-term President Freeman).

The mock trial humorously examined Orwell’s concepts of Big Brother, the Thought Police, and the Ministry of Truth, while also exploring the all-too-real practices of mass surveillance, police state tactics, and creeping authoritarianism in government.

At the end of the trial, the five judges issued their majority and dissenting opinions;  and, a poll of the audience members (i.e. “the jury”) declared its verdict.  The 75 minute video is not only entertaining, but it also reveals the basic process of federal court cases.

Watch it here:  http://www.c-span.org/video/?411385-1/1984-mock-trial

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