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A Very Lawyerly Debate Drinking Game

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 18, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Has this election cycle driven you to drink? Don't worry, you're not alone. You can take comfort in knowing that it will all be over soon, though. Tomorrow marks the last presidential debate before voters go to the polls. After the debate, there are less than 20 days until the contest is finally decided. The final debate, however, is particularly relevant for legal professionals, as the Supreme Court is scheduled as one of six topics to be covered.

If the past two debates are any guide, Wednesday's head to head will be a mess. So why not be one yourself? We've put together a handy drinking game to help you out.

The Rules

Debate drinking games are pretty straightforward. If a candidate does some predetermined action, like coughing or sniffing uncontrollably, you take a drink. If a candidate says something predetermined, you take a drink. The same goes here. It's not rocket science.

Of course, this doesn't have to be a drinking game, either. Problem drinking is bad enough in the legal profession and we wouldn't want to make it worse. Plus, you have to work tomorrow. So, if you want to do something good for your own constitution, feel free to substitute "take a drink" for whatever fits your fancy: earn some points, do a push-up, or smack yourself in the head. But we'll be drinking.

Get Ready for the Games

Mention of the Constitution and its constituent parts: Candidates like to say they'll protect the Constitution and their favorite amendments. In the last debate, for example, Donald Trump said he would seek out justices that "respect the Constitution and the Second Amendment." If either candidate makes a similar statement, take a drink.

Any non-amendment part of the Constitution: The Appointments Clause? The Full Faith and Credit Clause? Article III standing? We doubt any of these things will be mentioned by name, but if they are, take a drink. Take two.

Mention of Justice Scalia: Justice Scalia's ghost is sure to loom over the debate. Every time it makes an appearance, take a drink.

Either Donald or Hillary mentions a (living) Supreme Court justice by name: Will Justice Kennedy get a shout out? Will Trump's feud with Justice Ginsburg make its way in to the debate? If any current member of the SCOTUS bench gets mentioned, take a drink.

Hillary Clinton avoids Merrick Garland's name: In the last debate, Clinton skirted around naming Merrick Garland, referring to President Obama's stalled nominee only as "a highly qualified person." Did she forget his name? Who knows, but every time she avoids mentioning Garland by name during the last debate, take a drink.

Donald Trump gives a new number of nominees: Trump first listed 11 potential Supreme Court nominees, then expanded his list by 10 a few months later, for a total of 21. At the last debate, he claimed to have only 20 candidates lined up, however. If Trump gives any number but 21 at this debate, calculate the difference and take as many drinks.

The candidates mention specific cases that aren't Roe v. Wade or Citizens United. The Republican and Democratic nominees differ greatly on many Supreme Court decisions, from King v. Burwell to Obergefell v. Hodges. But these cases aren't exactly household names. If they get cited, take a drink.

The wild card: Did this debate just go totally off the rails? Take a shot, turn off your T.V., and go to bed.

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