The Instigator
Rob1Billion
Pro (for)
Losing
25 Points
The Contender
PreacherFred
Con (against)
Winning
31 Points

Drug prohibition should be interpreted to violate 1st and 9th ammendment rights.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,263 times Debate No: 1759
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (16)

 

Rob1Billion

Pro

I believe that prohibition should be ruled unconstitutional, in the future, by the supreme court. My basis for this reasoning is the first and ninth ammendments of the bill of rights.

Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This amendment, in and of itself, does not lead to the conclusion of my thesis. I am using it here for a specific reason, and that is to dodge any argument along the lines of "there is no 'right to do drugs' amendment in the constitution". Obviously, there is not, but one should be wary about assuming that since something isn't in the bill of rights, it isn't deserved by the people. Furthermore, if I can show that the first amendment will back my argument, I can simultaneously show that the ninth amendment is also in violation.

Amendment I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...

"Note that the document uses the word "speech," although a long succession of court decisions has expanded this concept far beyond ordinary verbal communication. Protected expression now includes such non-verbal expression as wearing a symbol on one's clothing, dance movements, and a silent candlelight vigil." ( http://www.csulb.edu... )

So I have a few weapons to work with, in my argument. I will interpret prohibition to violate
1) the free exercise of religion
2) freedom of expression
3) ninth amendment non-enumerated rights
4) Also, I will have a implied argument - "prohibition is a failure", because I think we will find that many of our arguments depend on how successful prohibition is. If it is a success, then the con has a very good grounds to dismiss my argument, even though my thesis does not address it. If I can question the results of prohibition, then it opens up to the question of why we would commit to such a wasteful practice for no good reason.

1) Religion- I believe prohibition violates the people's rights to free exercise of religion, because if a religion did include the use of drugs (think about peyote with native americans, and LSD with hippies), then that religion is automatically oppressed. Now, preacherfred is amazingly thorough with definition, which is his technical skill that attracts me to want to debate with him, so I will discuss the exact definition of religion. There turns out to be several interpretations of the word, so we must agree which one the constitution is supporting. If this has been determined in the past through the judicial process, then I am unaware. The #1 definition from dictionary.com is "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. I would assume this would be a good definition to use, but please enlighten me if there is a better one...

Now I think that this definition is vague enough for me to make some extrapolations.
a) religion is a very loose term, simply because of the different forms of it. If I decided to start my own religion, I could certainly do so legally, without fear that if it didn't resemble Christianity, in procedure or belief, that I would be denied practice.

b) "cause, nature, purpose of the universe..." - This sentence is attempting to contain the meaning of religion, but somewhat fails to do so, since the meaning of religion is somewhat elusive. The meaning of religion, based on this sentence, can be inferred as "personal philosophy in respect to the universe". Since the universe is everything, this opens up the door to a very general interpretation of what religion truly is, far from sitting in pew's praying and putting dollar bills in baskets. I can provide examples, if necessary to back up this interpretation.

c) "ritual observances..." - this can be construed as including drug use

Basically, my point is that the concept of religion resists a succinct definition. If you use Chrisianity, islam etc as examples of religion, you must realize that these practices are examples, but not the whole spectrum, of religion. Therefore, I can have my own religion, even if there is no one else that practices it, no church/preachers and the like, no long history of it, and even if it does not resemble Christianity in any way. That is my constitutional right, and anyone that questions it, is doing me a grave injustice.

Obviously, drug use can be a factor in religion, as the two examples I posted earlier explain. For our government, composed mostly of Christians, to suppress the use of drugs in religion, is a serious human rights violation. I think that Christian rituals, including praying and the whole song and dance in church, would appear just as peculiar to an impartial outside observer as peyote consumption, marijuana smoking, and LSD tripping.

2) Freedom of expression - Back in the sixties and seventies, hippies make an impact on our nation's history. Their attempts at expressing themselves, through marijuana and LSD use (among other things, of course), are still widely known today. A person's mind set can be construed as their expression just as easily as can clothes, dance, and speech. Furthermore, the way your speech is affected has to do with expression (ex. I express myself so much better to the opposite sex when I am drunk). Therefore, by the gov't attempting to control our MIND SET through prohibition, there exists a violation of our 1st amendment constitutional rights. If I want to express myself artistically as a drug addicted individual, the gov't should have no right to stop me.

3) non-enumerated right to do drugs - I know most of you won't respect this, because sometimes it is hard to respect something in which you personally have no desire, but it really is the drug users choice to choose to stay clean. You can't force it on them, or obviously prohibition would be a lot more successful. Drug use is a personal choice, which does not directly affect others. Sure, a drunk driver can kill a family, but he is not guilty of intoxication, he is guilty of driving while intoxicated (failing sobriety tests are illegal, and should be expanded to drug use. Inability to test for sobriety for certain drugs can simply be alleviated by performance based sobriety tests. Please do not assume that breathalizers are the only way to test for soberness. Performance based sobriety tests are very effective at determining a driver's abilities.) There is no law against alcoholic intoxication, at least in the privacy of your own home. While your actions certainly should be judged by the law, your mind set itself should be protected. How can you possibly effectively control MIND SET? Why should the gov't have the right to tell us how to think?

4) Prohibition is a failure. Drugs are easily procurable in schools by children, and easily procurable by adults on streetcorners. We spend $1 billion a week on the WoD, to attain nil results. 1/3 of our prisons are filled with drug offenders. Drug users are pushed to the margins of society, because their actions are illegal. Existing in the margins hampers their abilites to recover effectively, as does fines, jail times, conviction record, etc. How are these people supposed to recover once they fall into this situation? I believe that pushing drug users to the margins has another fatal mistake. Children have very little knowledge of them, and don't fully realize the potential of drugs to ruin their lives. All they see is the cool kids doing them, and it seems like a good idea when you've never seen a strung out junkie before. Alcohol is just as dangerous as any drug, yet we recognize the right to drink.
PreacherFred

Con

Without the First Amendment, religious minorities could be persecuted, the government might well establish a national religion, protesters could be silenced, the press could not criticize government, and citizens could not mobilize for social change. Most people, at some level, recognize the necessity of religious liberty and toleration, but some balk when a religious tenet of a minority religion conflicts with a generally applicable law or with their own religious faith. Many Americans see the need to separate the state from the church to some extent, but decry the banning of school-sponsored prayer from public schools and the removal of the Ten Commandments from public buildings.

The premise of this argument is whether drug prohibition should be interpreted to violate 1st and 9th Amendment rights. The statement suggests that it is expected, practical, and logically necessary that drug prohibition will be found to violate these rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. Since the Supreme Court is the defining authority, the statement suggests that the court will possibly agree. While the court has consistently affirmed that the Free Exercise Clause protects religious beliefs, protection for religiously motivated conduct has waxed and waned over the years. The Free Exercise Clause embraces two concepts—freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is an absolute right guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, but in the nature of things, the second cannot be. The fact is, the court has not agreed! In 1990, in its opinion issued in the case of Employment Division vs. Smith, the court ruled that the free-exercise clause of the 1st Amendment was not violated after two employees were fired after it was discovered that they ingested peyote as part of a religious ceremony. The Court ruled that "an individual's religious beliefs" do not "excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct the State is free to regulate." Religion usually entails ritual or other practices that constitute "conduct" rather than pure "belief." The court ruled that accommodation of such religious practices as the use of peyote must be found in the "political process" and that statutory religious-practice exemptions are permissible, but not constitutionally required. Therefore, the court concluded that the Free Exercise Clause does not prohibit the State from applying generally applicable penalties for the use of peyote in a religious ceremony.

I would venture to say that anyone who would start a new religion in the 21st century that would include the use of an illegal substance would be hard-pressed to prove that the action was nothing more than a veiled attempt to circumvent the existing drug laws. In United States v. Ballard, Justice Douglas, writing for the majority, embraced a broad definition of religion: "Freedom of religious belief is basic in a society of free men. It embraces the right to maintain theories of life and of death and the hereafter which are rank heresy to followers of orthodox faiths . . . . Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines of beliefs. Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others. Yet the fact they may be beyond the ken of mortals does not mean that they can be made suspect before the law." The essence of any workable criteria that the courts use in determining whether an organization is a religion must be comprised of two elements: (1) a sincerely held belief in a sacred or transcendent reality and (2) an organization whose purpose and practice is to express that belief. This approach has the advantage of constitutionally required neutrality. The inclusion of the "sincerity," "purpose" and "practice" criteria would enable the courts to eliminate shams claiming to have a religious character. Any test can be applied in a biased fashion, but the test stresses equal treatment of all organizations claiming to be religions. Shams could be excluded by examining indicia of sincerity, practice reflecting belief, and related purpose. Sincerity is a legitimate inquiry.

Inferring that the hippie movement of the sixties was a religion cannot be proven since the movement was more a way of life and did no t hold a widely accepted "belief in a sacred or transcendent reality." In fact, prior to being commonly referred to as the hippie movement, it was the peace movement whose sole purpose was to promote peace and protest the war in Vietnam. The hippies were subject to prosecution for using illegal drugs and none of those who were prosecuted had their convictions overturned by the Supreme Court. While you have the freedom to express yourself artistically as a drug addicted individual, it would still be illegal if to do so you had ingested illegal drugs.

There are constitutionally guaranteed rights and then there are privileges granted to us by the legal process. Since you yourself state that the constitution does not specifically guarantee the right to use drugs but the state has legislated that you do not have the right to use drugs it has deemed illegal and these laws have not been found by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, it would follow that there is no violation of the 9th Amendment.

A debate on whether or not prohibition is a successful tool to use is not relevant to the focus of the debate as outlined in the statement: "Drug prohibition should be interpreted to violate 1st and 9th amendment rights."
Debate Round No. 1
Rob1Billion

Pro

"(Pro's main argument) suggests that it is expected, practical, and logically necessary that drug prohibition will be found to violate (1st and 9th amendment) rights as guaranteed by the Constitution."

I will submit to this statement, and assume the burden of demonstrating it.

Yes, we could infer that "the court will possibly agree". Would not the court's decision on alcohol prohibition suggest that they *possibly* may be manuevered into ending prohibition with illegal drugs? What is the fundamental difference between alcohol and illegal drugs? How can it make sense to completely outlaw cocaine, and run beer ads during a football game? The matter of prohibition is not confined to drugs and alcohol; the entire concept is flawed, and various prohibitions have been considered by our nation in the past concerning soda pop and coffee as well. Our gov't is currently misusing the Constitution to perpetuate family values, in which it is trying to outlaw things that we *probably* shouldn't do, instead of sticking to outlawing things we DEFINITELY shouldn't do. I firmly believe prohibition WILL be ended in the future, because of the slippery slope concerning alcoholic prohibition.

In our past debate, you used the logic 'prohibition is constitutional, because that is the current view of the supreme court, based on past court decisions and laws'. Correct my paraphrase if I am wrong, but I worded my focus specifically to avoid this error again. I believe you are still using that argument against me, and I would like to point out that I said it "should" be considered unconstitutional, which already implies that it is *not* currently constitutional. Again, considering the end of alcoholic prohibition, I believe the court could be expected, from at least one valid perspective, to reconsider its stance on the matter.

The freedom to act is, of course, not unlimited. Neither is the freedom of speech, for that matter. Many freedoms are not unlimited, because of potential for abuse, but that doesn't make them less important. If our argument comes to the point where we disagree on whether doing drugs abuses our civil liberties, I would obviously say that drugs do not abuse our civil liberties. This may sound like cutting hairs, but I strongly maintain that our actions, while intoxicated, are to be judged accordingly, but our actual mind set (doing the drugs) is not punishable. I don't see how the gov't can punish mind set, and right now, while they can, there exists a slippery slope towards tyranny based on this fact. The gov't can currently punish a person's mind set, so they can theoretically dictate, in the future, what a person's mind set ought to be! This is very bad for all of us!

In regards to whether we can do drugs and call it a religion. I put this last sentence bluntly, in order to get straight to the point. I very much see your point, in distinguishing act from belief, and how belief is ultimately protected but actions are very circumstancial. I am not considered religious, as I don't conform to theist or atheist views or anybody's views as to the metaphysical nature of the universe. The first sign of stupidity, to me, is someone trying to tell me they have inside information on matters of the supernatural, metaphysical, or any other parts of existence in which there is no viable evidence, at all, in which to make any claims. I guess this gives me a somewhat unique perspective, maybe you would call it a lack of 'faith' (the religion, not the virtue) or a deep misunderstanding of the nature of everything, but I would think that my 'religion' is just what it is, wouldn't you? Its not Christianity, its not Islam, I don't have a following, but I would certainly reserve the right to call my belief system a religion. If I chose to do drugs, as a ritual of my religion (unless, of course, you are going to argue over the nature and validity of my religion), then that would be covered under the first amendment. Of course, the first amendment is not, can not, be unlimited, so it is of course not just automatic. But it certainly is viable to consider.

You say that for me to legally define my religion, I must show
(1) a sincerely held belief in a sacred or transcendent reality and
(2) an organization whose purpose and practice is to express that belief.
I will accept these statements, except for the word organization. If you hold that "organization" can be a sole person, I will agree, but I fail to see how the number of people purporting a religion makes it any more viable. If the most accurate religion in the world only had one person, would it not be as true? If there was only one Christian left, could we just say that he/she should not have any right to call Christitanity a religion? To say that religion depends on numbers is illogical.

I assume you are going to say that, since using drugs can't be effectively tied to your two conditions, I cannot effectively prove my thesis (based on law). But, you said yourself that supreme court justice's words were "Men may believe what they cannot prove". I sincerely believe that God, if there is one, not only condones my act of using drugs, but promotes it, in moderation, in order for me to experience different aspects of life, and give some diversity to this human population. He also would like me to do what I can to overturn prohibition laws. I believe that the Christian notion of God would believe the same, and that Jesus would be on my side in this argument. I don't see that Jesus would support prohibition laws at all, because of his pure sense of justice.

Preacherfred, if your legal definitions of religion are in fact correct, then it sounds like you would have to be on drugs already to pass them! "Belief in a sacred or trancendent reality?" So I have to be a superstitious lunatic to have my own religion? I believe that your facts are straight, don't get me wrong, but I fail to see why religion must be accompanied by ignorance before it is valid. I would say that this all goes to show how the Court SHOULD be looking at things a different way.

Your second to last paragraph is another attempt at routing my thesis, because I used the word "SHOULD". I know that it hasn't come about my way as of yet, and I know where the legislature and the Court stand on the issue. But it SHOULD not be this way! I have given many very convincing arguments in the first two rounds, and while citing the Court was able to prove your argument last debate, you are going to need to provide some more evidence on your personal interpretation of the bill of rights to combat me, other than just saying that it currently is not constitutional, based on current court rulings and laws. If you have some moral arguments, that could show why the current rulings are justified, based on the spirit of the constitution or what the framers had in mind when they wrote it, I would be glad to hear them. But saying that it shouldn't be this way because it isn't already, is faulty logic.

Indeed, we need not discuss the success of prohibition if you don't depend on it in your argument. See that your arguments do not.

I will repost my quote from abe, to show that its not just lunatics like me that see the faulty logic in prohibition:
"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded"-Abraham Lincoln, 1840

Remember, preacherfred, this argument is about how it should be, not how it is. Your arguments do support your case, but in this debate they do not automatically win your case for you. As of now, I have amassed much more evidence for my case then you have...
PreacherFred

Con

In light of the fact that the Supreme Court rulings to date (such as United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and Employment Division vs. Smith) have upheld the constitutionality of the present laws making certain drugs illegal, how can one assert that "the court will possibly agree" that the present laws are unconstitutional at some future date? The court's record to date has been to uphold the present drug laws as being constitutional.

The prohibition of alcohol in the United States occurred during the period from 1920 to 1933, during which alcohol sale, manufacture and transportation were banned throughout the United States as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Since it was effected by a change in the constitution and not legislated, the Supreme Court was never involved. Therefore, you cannot use the 18th Amendment as a supporting argument that the court may be willing to alter its views on the present drug laws.

I may have not accepted your challenge to debate this issue is you had substituted the word "could" for "should" in the main focus of this debate. Naturally, "could" means that one may launch a constitutional challenge to the present drug laws with due process to the Supreme Court. Could is the past tense of "can" which is defined as "to be able to do, make, or accomplish." Anyone with the proper resources could muster a constitutional challenge to any existing law. The probability that such a challenge would be successful might make someone question on whether or not they should instigate such a challenge. Based upon the court's track record, I believe that one should not find it logical to challenge the constitutionality of the present laws. As I suggested before, the way to reverse the effects of the present drug laws is to have them repealed in the legislature, not by challenging their constitutionality.

Despite your personal beliefs, anyone who deliberately takes a drug that is illegal is breaking the law and, no matter the mind-set, is therefore subject to arrest, conviction and punishment according to the law. It is the civil law that has been violated, not civil liberty. The government has never punished anyone for thinking about using drugs, just for the physical act of actually ingesting an illegal substance. No tyranny is involved on the government's part so no theoretical prediction that the government will determine a person's mind-set in the future could be valid.

Being an agnostic is certainly your right but agnosticism is not a religion. While you do have the right to call your beliefs a religion, in of itself, that does not constitute that it is, in fact, a religion. Whether or not you accept the definition of religion that I supplied in round 1 is irrelevant since it is the definition that is used by the Supreme Court. While you may want to remove the word "organization" from the definition in order to make your argument seem to be more legitimate, it would not pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.

All men may certainly believe in anything that they choose. However, men cannot put those beliefs into actual practice if doing so would violate the law. I would certainly use the word faith when discussing religion while you call that faith "ignorance." Again, why "should" the court change its definition of religion other than the fact that you do not agree with it? Your whole debate, again, centers on the constitutionality of the drug laws as you presented it. There is no need for me to provide any personal viewpoints if I can demonstrate by the court's own rulings, it has declared that the present drug laws are constitutional. While you may believe that the laws should be viewed as unconstitutional, I have provided solid evidence that they are not which makes your belief invalid. The evidence that you have amassed thus far is flawed.
Debate Round No. 2
Rob1Billion

Pro

Yes, the Court has a record of upholding drug laws. That is to be expected, because if they didn't, the drug laws wouldn't be around for us to debate on. The Court has a trend of not overturning its own rulings. It delegitimizes itself when it does. However, the Court is very fallable, and very wrong at times. It has in fact overturned its own rulings before, when our culture and popular opinion evoke it to. One recent example is sodomy laws, in which the court ruled in 1986 that sodomy laws were constitutional, and reversed that decision in 2003. I hope my dates are right, if they aren't I am sure you will let me know, but the essence of my argument is clear. You cite cases in which pro-drug organizations have failed in court, to further say that they will never "possibly" turn the tides. I think this is pessimistic, to say the least.

The court's record, to date, has been to uphold the present drug laws. How does this disprove my thesis? "Drug prohibition should be interpreted to violate 1st and 9th ammendment rights." Since you are very technical with these debates, let us remain very technical in this last round and stick very tightly to the focus. In my opening line, I talk about the supreme court, but by your procedural technical requirements, that in itself was astray! So I am not even technically limited to saying that it is the Court that needs to find the amendments invalid! This is pretty cheap, but since all your arguments up to date have been very nit-picky about exact wording, I suppose you are a big target for such a thing. But I don't believe I need to get that picky, because I did in fact say that they SHOULD change their rulings. Nothing you have said, up until this point, has done anything in the least bit to affect my thesis. Consider this logic: You are punching someone in the arm. It is clear that you are enjoying yourself, and have no intentions on stopping. I tell you to stop, and say "you SHOULD stop punching him in the arm". Now your logic in this debate would imply that since you have a record of punching him in the arm, and you don't seem to be in the position to change your actions, that you SHOULDN'T stop punching him. This is absolutely flawed reasoning. First, off, whether or not you WILL stop punching him is of absolutely no consequence. Somewhere along the way you started thinking that I had to prove the Court WILL find the laws unconstitutional, but that has absolutely no bearing on our argument. I specifically designed this debate, preacherfred, to be a passionate argument about the justice of the drug laws and how they relate to the constitution. I believe I am partially to blame for the tangents, because I opened with my first line about the Supreme Court, when I should have shut up about the Supreme Court because it doesn't do anything to strengthen my case, and opens up this dialogue about past court decisions.

I'm sorry my religion isn't religious enough for you. Why you would say agnosticism isn't a religion I don't know, I guess it gives you a superior feeling about your own religion, to say that mine doesn't even qualify to be called one. I can give dictionary meanings of the word with and without the word religion in it, but that doesn't prove it one way or the other. You see, this is exactly the type of thing the framers DIDN'T want to happen. They said "shall not establish religion" and they meant exactly what you are doing right now. You are denying an entire religion a foothold, in effect establishing your own. Just because the gov't doesn't make Christianity the "official" religion, and make people submit to it, doesn't mean that it isn't establishing that religion by denying people like me the right to even have a religion.

I guess our argument is about apples and oranges at this point, but I believe my apples are more in line with the original thesis than your oranges. Your analogy with the word "could" does not make sense to me, unless I have a severely inept grasp of the english language.
PreacherFred

Con

We agreed that the main point being debated is that it is expected, practical, and logically necessary that drug prohibition will be found to violate the 1st and 9th Amendments to the constitution. Hundreds of bills are introduced and become law in each session of Congress. With such a number, how can it be predicted that any of those laws passed will be challenged in the Supreme Court? Since I have demonstrated that the track record of the Supreme Court is to support the constitutionality of the drug laws, how can it be practical to bring additional challenges to those laws before the court? It would be tantamount to saying I will continue to challenge the constitutionality of the drug laws for however long it takes until such time as you change your mind. I would also submit that it would be logical to accept that the current drug laws are constitutional since the court has already ruled that they are. Expected, practical and logically necessary are part of the dictionary definition of the word "should." Since I have provided references to court cases upholding the constitutionality of the laws in question and you, my friend, have supplied much rhetoric but no substantial facts, I submit that you have failed to prove your premise.

You have agreed that the Supreme Court has a record of upholding drug laws. You even state that that is to be expected. Conversely, then, it would not be expected that a new challenge would produce a different result. Therefore, one should not institute a new challenge to their constitutionality. You state that "It (the court) has a trend of not overturning its own rulings. It delegitimizes itself when it does." Wouldn't changing its rulings every other challenge or so bring discredit to the court rather than it continuing to uphold the laws in a consistent manner?

By their very nature, debates are technical. While you assert that that while you reference the Supreme Court, my technical requirements have led us astray. That is far from the truth since it is I who have attempted to keep the debate within your reference to the Supreme Court and have provided actual court case decisions and definitions that are used by the court as my solid evidence. These have definitely had a tremendous affect on your thesis! The fact that the court has consistently found the drug laws to be constitutional has every bearing on this debate and makes it a dubious proposition that the drug laws should be found to be unconstitutional.

You state: "I believe I am partially to blame for the tangents since I opened with my first line about the Supreme Court because it doesn't do anything to strengthen my case." I agree it didn't help you but how did you expect to discuss the constitutionality of the drug laws without references to THE authority on their constitutionality?

You are the one who brought up religion as a way, perhaps, of circumventing the drug laws. The terms agnosticism and agnostic were coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869 to describe the philosophical and theological view that the truth of the un-existence or existence of God, immortality, and the like are inherently unknowable. People can have scientific or real knowledge of phenomena, but when it comes to what lies behind phenomena there can be no evidence that entitles anyone either to deny or affirm anything. "Agnosticism is a concept, not a full religion. It is a belief related to the existence or non-existence of God. However, many people have started with Agnosticism, and have added a moral code, rituals and other items to create a belief system with many of the attributes of a religion." (http://www.religioustolerance.org...) but would not pass the definition of a religion as expressed by the Supreme Court.

I hardly feel superior to you in any way, including religion. Nowhere in this debate have I brought up my religious beliefs. The founding fathers certainly did not want the state to establish or make any one religion the official religion of the state, and neither do I. In fact, I have tried to be helpful in showing that for you to achieve your stated goal of getting rid of the present drug laws the best line of attack would be is advocating for the repeal of those laws in the legislature rather than launching new challenges to their constitutionality. Your thesis should be, perhaps, that the present drug laws are repressive and should be amended or repealed altogether.

Based upon the evidence that you and I have provided, I believe your apples need to ripen a bit more and my oranges are just right. As I previously stated, anyone COULD launch a fresh challenge to the constitutionality of the drug laws within the court system. Looking at the hard evidence of the history of previous challenges, one probably SHOULD NOT instigate such a challenge.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
Also like I said, reading the commerce clause in the US Constitution will also be helpful. The Entire US Constitution is shorter than Gonzalez v. Raich, for comparison.
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
"My problem is this: if I grow hemp in my backyard, and consume it without anyone ever coming near it, how is that interstate commerce, exactly?"

Reading the opinions on medical marijuana, it sounds like their logic is this..

If these (medical)marijuana users, are growing their own marijuana legally. They aren't taking any away from the illicit market.

So they are effecting the prices by lowering the demand for it..

HOWEVER, i think this logic ought to be applied to a whole state. If california legalized marijuana, and it reamains mpletely illegal outside of marijuana, (only speaking legally here, that is what this is afterall, a legal loophole, not a actual economic statemet.) Why would that effect the prices outside of california?

okay, going to look up Gonzalez v. Raich now
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
You are correct that they don't just blindly follow previous cases - this would be flawed logic because they do change their minds from time to time! If a case bears on a previous case they will include a brief description of why the previous Court ruled that way, and yes the dissent has free reign to voice their opinions as to why the logic is flawed. Unless the Court's ruling is overturned, however, it has the force of law and all inferior courts in the nation MUST follow that decision without fail. Like I said in the previous case, Gonzalez v. Raich is an excellent case to read on this subject. It concerns the federal government's raids into households that were previously told they could legally grow hemp by California (of course the feds trump the states always). In particular, Justice Clarence Thomas delivers an exceptional dissent to this case (pretty surprising for a "conservative" justice).
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
OK... there is a tremendous reason why interstate commerce "pops up" in these cases, and this is something that you will probably want to take a class in law to get a better explanation than I can give. If you read the US Constitution, which is a very short and easy read btw (I would suggest it to everyone), it outlines what the US gov't can and cannot do. As you read it, you will realize there actually is VERY LITTLE they CAN do. Without going into exactly what they can and cannot do, it is sufficient to say that the vast majority of our laws actually come from the states (which are not bound by the Constitution), while a select few areas (like national security) are dealt with by the feds. The federal government, when passing a law, has to have grounds to do so. These grounds are scarce (which is why most laws are left to the states), but in some cases they can make it happen. In the case of drug laws, the US government uses the interstate commerce clause to regulate them (Controlled Substances Act of 1970 I believe). You see the feds cannot just say "drugs are dangerous and should be illegal". They have no right to do so (they are required to let the states decide this on an individual basis). But they can say that "drugs have an appreciable effect on interstate commerce, therefore we are going to control them". This is the government's niche in the war on drugs. The federal government must be able to regulate interstate commerce, otherwise states would have nowhere to go when they have a dispute. The Supreme Court twisted this to include illegal drugs, which means that the interstate commerce rule can be used to control just about anything (they justified it based on the international/interstate ilegal drug trade). My problem is this: if I grow hemp in my backyard, and consume it without anyone ever coming near it, how is that interstate commerce, exactly? Look at Gonzalez v Raich for the actual case disputing this, I wrote a paper on this as well...
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
Alright, I have to further my understanding of how the supreme court works..

http://www.supremecourtus.gov.....

I found this transcript, and it does appear that is PRECISELY what these judges do. They look at previous cases, ands ay "the court ruled it here, therefore it applies here" and moves on..

HOWEVER, i still voice my opinion that this is a RETARDED way to deal with things.

When it comes to the war on drugs, interstate commerce seems to pop up a lot.. That is their NUMBER ONE argument it appears.

Basically, the feds have the power to make drugs illegal, because if one state makes drugs legal, it would effect the prices in neighboring states..

But this seems like a GIANT game of mental olympics, ie a big giant loop hole, and a slap to the face of individual state rights.
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
Taking roe vs. wade for example..

A supreme court justice, wouldn't stand up and say "Well in roe vs wade.. they ruled it to be unconstitutional to deny a woman the right to an abortion, thus I think abortion should stay legal" That would come off as extremely weak..

They would say, "IN roe vs. wade, it was ruled unconstiutional to deny a woman the right to an abortion, BECAUSE...." Than in addition to that, in order to make a strong case, they would add their own opinions on the matter.

And I would hope, that a dissenting view would explain why they think roe vs. wade is flawed...

Preacherfred, even failed to site any SPECIFIC examples of where the supreme court ruled prohibition constitutional. I would love to read the transcripts, and their rationale, however I cannot find them!
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
I guess I didn't think it through, I admit..

HOWEVER, I do find it silly..

There should be actual DEBATES on the issues, otherwise they are just side stepping it...

When they talk about previous decisions they go into depth on WHY they came to the conclusion, in that particular case. At least that is my understanding, they don't simply site it and continue on with their day.

Preacherfred, failed to explain WHY they ruled the war on drugs constitutional.
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
Well, unfortunately that is a valid point (but not for this particular debate as we shall see in a moment). The Supreme Court works EXACTLY like that. For instance, abortion is legal because of the Planned Parenthood case (and to a lesser extent Roe v. Wade), where they made the ruling that you can't make a law that inhibits a woman's ability to receive an abortion. The judicial branch is in charge of interpretting the Constitution... So if they say banning abortion is unconstitutional then low and behold banning abortion is unconstitutional. If they change their minds, which is VERY likely in the near future if a Republican is elected to the White House and is able to place a conservative Justice on the Supreme Court, then they will bring up another abortion-related case, change their minds (with an opposite ruling, effectively rescinding Planned Parenthood), and then all of a sudden we have an abortion ban.

Now this doesn't mean I lose the debate, however. I specifically worded the title (as Fred is well-aware of) to include the word "should", to avoid this pitfall (he got me with this point in our previous debate). This debate is about whether it "should" be unconstitutional, not whether it "is" unconstitutional.

I just wanted to make sure you knew how it worked; your comment doesn't allude to whether or not you understand it; it could be taken either way.
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
Ya, cons main argument seems to be "The court has a track record of rulling it it constitutional" There has to be reasons these justices believe it to be so, dive into THOSE reasons. Other wise you are simply appealing to authority.

When the court rules these laws constitutional, do they do the same thing? By saying "Well.. the judges before us found it constitutional.. so that's good enough for us!" NOOO, that is silly.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
Well, preacherfred, I have since undertaken a constitutional law class and I am now going to be arguing Gonzales v. Raich, which is the famous california medical marijuana case where the feds siezed medical marijuana that the state had allowed. The Supreme Court Justices said that congress had the authority, under the commerce clause, to support the Controlled Substances Act. Apparently, the illegal marijuana market is legitimate enough a market for congress to regulate! I think this is absurd, because the only reason the illegal market exists at all is because marijuana is illegal in the first place! If the controlled substance act did not criminalize marijuana, there would be no illegal market and no effects on interstate commerce because marijuana can be grown in the home without using any goods purchased in interstate transactions.

As far as using the legislature versus the judiciary to work from to fight drug laws, I am still working out the details as to whether or not you are right about that... I am not giving up on the constitution to provide a judicial remedy.
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