The Instigator
rational_man
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
dexterbeagle
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Drivers License Checkpoints are Unconstitutional

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
dexterbeagle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/25/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 985 times Debate No: 72310
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

rational_man

Pro

Has anyone been driving along with your significant other after seeing a movie or having dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, only to find that they are now caught in a traffic jam? As you get closer and inch along, taking several minutes, you discover police lights up ahead. You get even closer and now you realize you're trapped in a drivers license checkpoint. When asked, you provide your license to the officer, and are allowed to proceed, but only after the officer scans your license, performing a cross-check against the law enforcement database. The officer has determined you have no warrants out for your arrest and you are not inebriated. You can finally get a breath of fresh air after developing a headache from breathing the exhaust from the car ahead of you for over a half hour or more. This reeks of the Nazi Gestapo's tactic of "YOUR PAPERS, PLEASE" of former Europe, doesn't it? Are we losing more of our civil rights? Should the actions of a few who choose to break the law be a burden to the rest of us?

Should someone (perhaps a law enforcement officer?) decide to accept the debate challenge, let's:

Round 1:
A) define "drivers license checkpoint" and it's purpose

Round 2:
B1) Show/interpret any laws that provide drivers license checkpoints are unconstitutional
or,
B2) Show/interpret any laws that provide drivers license checkpoints are constitutional;

Round 3:
C1) Conclude the practice as unconstitutional and therefore should be discontinued and
or,
C2) Conclude the practice as constitutional and leave alone

Provide evidence for your view. Democratically allow the audience decide who provided the best argument and allow a victor to emerge through the casting and counting of votes.
dexterbeagle

Con

Interesting debate, so recently in the interest of creating a civil climate, amenable to substantive discuss, I have started the debate with the following preface: I would like to thank my opponent for the debate. And would like to state from the outset that Con’s criticisms during the debate are only critical of the ideas, and are not intended or intentionally or unintentionally to be attacks against my opponent, who by the comments made in the first round strikes me as a genuinely interested in debating the merits of the issues and demonstrates an obvious skill for how serious debate should take place. I wish my opponent the best, and just want to iterate that criticism in this debate are only criticism of ideas and not the people participating in the debate. Thanks again.

Let’s proceed with the debate. So, the issue of whether these checkpoints are constitutional is settled. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutional interpretation. They have address this issue. They have said that police checkpoints are constitutional. [However, Pro I want to stick with the debate structure agreed to. Instead of getting recent opinions upholding the Constitutional of checkpoints, I will just provide a footnote for one of many decisions upholding these checkpoints as constitutional. But to give you a general idea of how (at least currently) plan to structure my argument I provided a recent case, along with a supplementary article published in The New York Times.[1]

Here is the definition section:

Checkpoints upheld by the Supreme Court included. Here are the facts of the issue decided before the Court. This is an abbreviated version:

*****************************************************************

Facts of the Case

In 1986, the Michigan State Police Department created a sobriety checkpoint program aimed at reducing drunk driving within the state. The program included guidelines governing the location of roadblocks and the amount of publicity to be given to the operation.[2] *******************************************************************

To be more specific about the guideline used by the State of Michigan, they provided it in their CERTIORARI TO THE COURT [certiorari is the way the Supreme Court decides whether to take up a case or not, you can think of it as a petition]:

“Under the guidelines, checkpoints would be set up at selected sites along state roads. All vehicles passing through a checkpoint would be stopped and their drivers briefly examined for signs of intoxication. In cases where a checkpoint officer detected signs of intoxication, the motorist would be directed to a location out of the traffic flow where an officer would check the motorist's driver's license and car registration and, if warranted, conduct further sobriety tests. Should the field tests and the officer's observations suggest that the driver was intoxicated, an arrest would be made. All other drivers would be permitted to resume their journey immediately.”[3]

Here is the Purpose section:

So, in MICHIGAN DEPT. OF STATE POLICE v. SITZ, and this is the best way to describe the checkpoint in question [this comes from the Summary Report before the decision and the underlined portions are mine]:

State has a "grave and legitimate" interest in curbing drunken driving; that sobriety checkpoint programs are generally ineffective and, therefore, do not significantly further that interest; and that, while the checkpoints' objective intrusion on individual liberties is slight, their "subjective intrusion" is substantial.[4]



[1] Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990). http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com... (accessed March 25, 2015). I understand most people don’t have enough time to read a Supreme Court majority opinion, so to help voters and my opponent validate my evidence I will provide a shorter The New York Times article. “Excerpts From Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Sobriety Checkpoints,” The New York Times. June 15, 1990. http://www.nytimes.com... (accessed March 25, 2015)

[3] 496 U.S. 444 (1990) MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE ET AL. v. SITZ ET AL. No. 88-1897. Supreme Court of United States. CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MICHIGAN https://scholar.google.com...+(1990)&hl=en&as_sdt=4000006&as_vis=1

(Accessed March 26, 2015)

Debate Round No. 1
rational_man

Pro

The Fourth Amendment [1] protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. Many argue a driver"s license checkpoint subjects a person to a seizure without any reasonable suspicion that an offense occurred. Courts typically consider three main factors when determining whether a roadblock constitutes a seizure:

1. The state"s interest in preventing accidents caused by drivers under the influence;
2. How effective the checkpoints are in preventing drunken accidents; and
3. The level of intrusion the sobriety checkpoint has on an individual"s right to privacy.

In Texas, these checkpoints are unconstitutional. In State v. Holt, 887 S.W. 2d 16 (Tex. Cr. App. 1994), the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas held that because a governing body in Texas has not authorized a statewide procedure for DWI roadblocks, such roadblocks are unreasonable and unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution unless and until a politically accountable governing body sees fit to enact constitutional guidelines. As Pro pointed out, The U.S. Supreme Court case Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990) affirmed that a highway sobriety checkpoint was consistent with the Fourth Amendment"s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

Even though difficult, Supreme Court decisions have been overturned several times [2]. It can basically be done through two ways. States can amend the Constitution itself, requiring three-quarters of the state legislatures, or, the Supreme Court can overrule itself. This happens when a different case involving the same constitutional issues as an earlier case is reviewed by the court and seen in a new light, typically because of changing social and political situations. The longer the amount of time between the cases, the more likely this is to occur.

1. https://www.law.cornell.edu...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
dexterbeagle

Con

The debate is whether or not: “Drivers License Checkpoints are Unconstitutional”

Pro’s case involved a statutory interpretation and ruled ONLY on the procedure of the checkpoints. It did NOT rule that checkpoints were unconstitutional.[1] ONLY PROCEDURE WAS INVOLVED.

So the case provide last round about Texas dedicated did not say rule on the constitutionality of the checkpoints. If you read the opinion, it looked only at a statutory issue involved, not the constitutionality of the checkpoints.

[Checkpoints] “are not permissible in Texas under the federal constitution only because Texas has no statutory scheme authorizing them…”[2]

So to be clear, the Texas case said checkpoints in that case were unconstitutional ONLY because a governing body in Texas had not authorized a statewide procedure. Nothing else.

As I indicated last round, the Supreme Court [and I agree the Supreme Court often makes decisions that are terrible; however their decisions determine what is and what is not constitutional. Their decision are binding on both the Federal and State governments, without exception]

Narrow Ruling in Texas and it did not undermine of conflict with Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990)

Pro last points are true a Supreme Court decision can be overturned, either by the Court rejecting precedent or through legislative means.

BUT the debate is not checkpoints should be unconstitutional nor is the debate checkpoints ought to be unconstitutional. That is a normative debate and had it been a normative question I agree as a philosophical matter (not as a factual constitutional matter) with Pro. But my personal views and preferences are irrelevant since this debate is a factual and legal matter.

If the debate was about overturning Michigan v. Sitz I would agree with Pro that it should. But that is not actually the debate, so is entirely irrelevant. The only thing we are debate is whether or not checkpoints are constitutional or not.

They are constitutional; they apply equally in Texas and in any other state. The Texas case mentioned is not in conflict with Michigan v. Sitz.



[1] State v. Holt, 887 S.W. 2d 16 (Tex. Cr. App. 1994). Here is a link to the opinion of the Texas State Court, it does not actual support what Pro suggested. https://www.courtlistener.com...

Debate Round No. 2
rational_man

Pro

Even though I concede Con’s point that the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional for checkpoints, two of the Supreme Justices dissented [1]. And, there have been multiple court challenges since [2]. Knowing that the Constitution is a very complex document and that there are constitutional scholars, one may reason that the Constitution is largely a matter of interpreting what the framers of the Constitution intended. Supreme Court William Brennan wrote in his dissent, "The scheme of the Fourth Amendment becomes meaningful only when it is assured that at some point the conduct of those charged with enforcing the laws can be subjected to the more detached, neutral scrutiny of a judge who must evaluate the reasonableness of a particular search or seizure in light of the particular circumstances. And in making that assessment it is imperative that the facts be judged against an objective standard . . . . Anything less would invite intrusions upon constitutionally guaranteed rights based on nothing more substantial than inarticulate hunches, a result this Court has consistently refused to sanction."

Part of Justice Brennan's complaint was that this decision was the ninth that had ruled against Fourth Amendment protections that term.

With so many highly-regarded figures within the legal field are in disagreement with the decision and its interpretation of Amendment Four, it is a logical assumption there could be a possible future overruling of the decision. In realization that laws can flip back and forth is evidence that laws can change when philosophical views of office positions do, which contradicts Cons view that philosophy or personal viewpoints/interpretations aren't related to the argument of constitutionality past, future or present.

If one cannot question constitutionality of laws within in a democratic nation, it cannot be a democracy, for a democracy is simply “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people” [2]. Again, many laws are currently being questioned as constitutional, especially and obviously in the interpretation of Amendment Four.

Many criminal defense attorneys argue this interpretation in court on a regular basis for their clients. William Pangman, a past president and founder of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers states: “Bear in mind that other Fourth Amendment problems with sobriety check-points may exist when individual drivers passing through the check-point are asked to pull over. Police do not have the right, per se, to check driver's licenses or registrations when the stop is not initiated by a violation. However, where the police have a reasonable suspicion of illegal conduct, even though there is not actual violation of the law they may examine drivers' licenses or registration.” [3]

In conclusion, I maintain roadside barricades used to stop vehicles at random is unconstitutional for it assumes all are guilty of committing a violation, when in actuality, they only result in the arrests of an extreme minority. In a recent roadside stop in Kansas City, Missouri, close to 1,500 cars were stopped, resulting in only 35 violations, or only 4.2%. [4] The Bill of Rights provides that citizens are innocent until proven guilty and seems to contradict this practice of assuming all are guilty unless they prove they are innocent. In this case, the KC police inconvenienced 95.8% of the drivers and their passengers who are not accounted for in the stats of this report. I ask that voters who have read this debate decide by voting for PRO if they feel that the practice of roadside blockades are unjust and unconstitutional, for it is you and me who ultimately decide how the constitution is interpreted by our involvement in voting for officials, and state/national legislators who directly control this interpretation. It is the unified citizens of our country who can change laws by involvement and activism in the political arena overall.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://www.merriam-webster.com...
3. http://www.motorists.org...
4. http://www.kshb.com...

dexterbeagle

Con

So Con has fully complied by the stipulations agreed too. Here is what Pro and Con agreed to at the beginning of the debate (I have modified the original wording into an interrogative sentence for VOTERS).

Round 1:
A) [did Pro] define "drivers license checkpoint" and it's purpose[?]:

No, Pro did not define driver’s license checkpoints in round one. In fact, he pose a question to the reader and then proceeds with a subjective, unsubstantiated view of checkpoints, that ends by comparing it with the “Gestapo…tactics” [while this is a rhetorical device used to emphasize extreme overreach by governments the comparative difference between roadblock on a highway and the Nazi’s subjugation over western Europe is as delusional as a worm with visions of grandeur picking a fight with a giant. Or, no link whatsoever]

B) [Did Con] define “drivers license checkpoint” and its purpose [?]

Yes, there is a section labeled specifically addressing both.



Round 2:
*********************************************************************

B1) [Did Pro] show/interpret any laws that provide drivers license checkpoints are unconstitutional [?]

No. Pro provided a misinterpretation of Texas case.

Pro did show/interpret laws, but the Texas case Pro cited did not rule that checkpoints were unconstitutional but ruled on the state guidelines in Texas and how they were implemented, and nothing else. So, Pro did show/interpret a law in Round 2 but it had DID NOT show nor have anything to do with the constitutionality of checkpoints.

*********************************************************************

B2) [Did Con] Show/interpret any laws that provide drivers license checkpoints are constitutional [?]

Yes, Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990)

[It is the current precedent of the Supreme Court]

*******************************************************************

*Round 3 [Was about concluding statement, etc.]


________________________________________________________

I will take the time to also debunk claims made last round that are irrelevant, ancillary, or support Con’s position.

Pro mentions Justice Brennan’s dissent.

So what? Dissents have ZERO legal weight; and virtually every Supreme Court has a dissent or two or multiple dissents and concurrences not just on the majority opinion but parts. Personally dissents are fun to read for because they are not legally binding but rather allow the Justice to attack the stupidity of the majority or something like that. So, I don’t know why Pro brought up dissent opinions, they don’t mean anything other than the Justices did not agree with the majority.

Pro’s quote last round does not even support his position:

“However, where the police have a reasonable suspicion of illegal conduct, even though there is not actual violation of the law they may examine drivers' licenses or registration.”

That supports Pro’s position, meaning that police with “a reasonable suspicion of illegal conduct, even though there is not actual violation of the law they may examine drivers’ licenses or registration.”

[But again, this is an ancillary matter of no importance. I just wanted to point it out to voters].

Pro states that there is a contradiction in Con’s reasoning:

“In realization that laws can flip back and forth is evidence that laws can change when philosophical views of office positions do, which contradicts Cons view that philosophy or personal viewpoints/interpretations aren't related to the argument of constitutionality past, future or present.”

I accept the law evolves and changes. I do not dispute that. I think that is 100% true. By this reasoning then, because the law evolves then I can posit anything is constitutional. For instance, if this logic is followed then I could say gay marriage is both constitutional and unconstitutional if time is the variable; or I could say Obamacare is both constitutional and unconstitutional. This argument isn’t relevant.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN IS/ARE and SHOULD/OUGHT DEBATES

But the larger mistake seems to be that Pro misunderstand the nature of our debate, one that as the proposition clearly frames as a [is/are] legal matter

It is not a [should/ought] debate

Had the debate been a should/ought debate, where my personal reading of the constitution matters, then I would agree with Pro but that is not the debate, so my personal preference doesn’t matter.

Here is how Pro concludes side:

“I ask that voters who have read this debate [decide by voting for PRO if they feel that the practice of roadside blockades are unjust and unconstitutional], for it is you and me who ultimately decide how the constitution is interpreted by our involvement in voting for officials, and state/national legislators who directly control this interpretation.]

I feel that a lot of practices are unjust and unconstitutional but you might be surprised to hear it doesn’t matter because my feelings, beliefs, and opinions are not given the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution. Personally me and a lot of other people “feel” that the NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional, and “feel” that it is unconstitutional that police can arrest me for smoking marijuana in my front yard, and “feel” that the every war since WWII has been unconstitutional since they were not official declarations of war. George Carlin makes this point, in the clip below. The Japanese interned only because of their Japanese ancestry felt that it was constitutional to take their possessions and keep them in a camp against their will. But guess what? It didn’t matter. Why? Because the Supreme Court in Korematsu said, it was constitutional to intern Japanese Americans.

https://youtu.be...

And to put a finer point on it, it is not you and me who decide how the Constitution is interpreted, it is the Supreme Court of the United States [exceptions: Constitutional Amendments]

I WILL CONCLUDE WITH PRO’S OWN WORDS

Pro agrees with Con’s entire argument [SEE PRO’S FIRST SENTENCE OF ROUND 3]:

“Even though I concede Con’s point that the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional for checkpoints, two of the Supreme Justices dissented.”

Voters just need to extract the main part:

I concede Con’s point that the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional

Thanks for the debate. It was a good one.

Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by rational_man 1 year ago
rational_man
Even though I acknowledged the Supreme Court ruled in favor of traffic checkpoints was constitutional, that doesn't mean it is constitutional. My point is we as citizens decide these things.
Posted by PatrickTheWise 1 year ago
PatrickTheWise
I'd like to accept this
Posted by Wylted 1 year ago
Wylted
Nice, good luck.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Wylted 1 year ago
Wylted
rational_mandexterbeagleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This is a null vote. Unfortunately neither side proved their case. The debate needs to be over whether the checkpoints are unconstitutional. Both sides quoted different judges or courts that determined independenly why they believed the checkpoints are unconstitutional or not. What we need to see is a discussion of the 4th amendment and specifically stating why it is or is not constitutional. Judges opinions on the matter don't carry any weight with me, unless I am seeing their premises. No quotations showed premises, and neither debater provided a premise beyond pointing to conclusion of some judges. Judges do not determine what is constitutional. They do their best to interpret whether something is constitutional or not, but they don't actually decide constitutionality, they merely judge constitutionality. Please do better in the future by providing premises for your arguments. The appeal to authority isn't really something that carries much weight with judges.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
dsjpk5
rational_mandexterbeagleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded Con's position in the first sentence of round three. As Con pointed out, this debate was about whether checkpoints are constitutional, not if they should be considered constitutional. With that in mind, the current position of the Supreme Court is the deciding factor. I thought all other points (conduct, s and g, sources) were a tie.