The Instigator
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The Contender
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Federal Programs are Unconstitutional

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/29/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 809 times Debate No: 33054
Debate Rounds (3)
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Federal programs have stretched far and wide, regulating everything from the environment to education, but none of it is allowed. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Federal Government may have programs not elected upon by the people, and yet they exist in their immense size today. And if the Constitution does not say the government has a power, it does not have that power. In other words, all of the power the government is allowed is in the Constitution, and if it's not mentioned there it's not allowed.

How has this happened? Would the Framers approve of any such program? Of course not. They knew that governments tend to grow too big, which is why we have such a strict control, on our government. Welfare is not in the Constitution. A federalized education system is not in the Constitution. Gun control is mentioned in the Constitution, specifically saying that "The right to bear arms shall not be infringed."

Our Constitution is what makes us who we are. We have drifted away from it, and it is unacceptable. All Federal programs and many legislation proposals are contradictory to it. The founding documents have not been, are not, and never will be up for discussion.


I will be arguing against the resolution, "Federal programs are unconstitutional." The topic, as I see it, refers to federal programs in general, weighing the relevance of them and whether they are unconstitutional or not.

Allow me to start with an analogy. Let's say you're trying to find a new home to call your own. You have been looking at many homes and apartments, and finally you come across an apartment you really like, complete with a bathroom, living room, separate kitchen and dining area and two bedrooms. It's affordable, roomy and comfortable. But it's not perfect, and needs some revisions in order to be the home you want to live in. You add new furniture and appliances, re-do the floors, add a fresh coat of paint and repair the windows. All of these things make you more comfortable and as a result, you are more happy with the apartment than you were before.

The Constitution is, in many ways, like the Constitution; it's simply meant to be a start of a government, like an apartment is a start for a place to you to live. The Constitution must have revisions and items added on top of it, in order for the country to run successfully; this is why we have amendments added to the Constitution. The Constitution is meant to be a foundation for our government, and not a sole restriction.

Let us first start with the purpose of federal programs--to serve and assist the people of the United States. The reason why we have programs and organizations such as Social Security is to assist and help the people as a whole. In the very Preamble of the Constitution [1], are the words, "We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." This preamble discusses the purpose of the United States government; to serve its people, ensure their security and secure their rights. The federal programs that this government has provided in its two-hundred year history have done that and have the purpose of doing what the Preamble says. The Constitution is essentially mandating that the government assist its citizens, and federal programs have that purpose and goal in mind.

Looking through the body text of the Constitution, there are several things to note that point to the Founding Fathers wanting the Constitution to be a foundation on which the US government could be built. Most notable is Article Five [2], which shows the process to which the Constitution can be amended. If the Founding Fathers really wanted to have strict control on the government as my opponent has specified, and that the Framers intended for the documents to be out of discussion, it seems odd that they would include this Article. The Framers wanted the Constitution to be the grounds for which an expansive government, serving the people and their interests, could be made and constructed. Otherwise, they would not have included this article.

And let's think more about this amendment process. Look at the original Constitution. In the original Constitution, you see no mention of equal rights to enslaved Africans or women. A great portion of the population had few rights compared to the other portion. The Founding Fathers never thought we would have a four-year civil war over slavery or that women would march in the streets for their rights to vote and their rights to be fair under the law. Their society, their time, just didn't allow for that open, humanistic kind of thinking. But, in case society changed its way, they included Article Five, so the Constitution could change and be a foundation for which the government should function properly. And now, here we are, a fairly equal society, where women can vote and African-Americans free from the shackles of slavery.

In essence, the federal programs that we have today are simply the by-products of Article Five and the Preamble, which allow for a government to serve the people and a legal and governmental way to grow and expand upon the documents at hand. The federal programs are not unconstitutional because the Constitution was never meant to be the only thing the government should function on. The Founding Fathers intended for the government to expand and grow fully to serve the interests of the common people. The political talking points that we have today, such as gun control and Social Security, come from a society two-hundred years removed from the Framers, from a document that the Framers intended to be expanded and to grow. They would have never dreamed of the world we have today. Limiting a modern world to a way of life two hundred years ago is completely illogical. As long as we serve the people to the best and fullest of our ability, we serve the Constitution, and as long as we allow ourselves to expand, we can have a government that helps, rather than hinders, growth, and allows for a better union, people and society.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to begin the second round by congratulating the opposition for an excellent first round, however there are some things I would like to clear up before moving on.

Firstly, on the note of the Preamble to the US Constitution, while it does state that is our responsibility to provide for the common welfare, I must remind the opposition that it is "the people" who establish such welfare. While the government is designed to oversee this general welfare, it does not say that the government is made out to take full control of it. Is having programs and associations implemented without the consent of the governed what the Framers truly intended? To have the government elect for the people which programs shall control which aspects of their lives? Surely not. Far more appropriate would be to allow the people to create their own programs to provide for themselves. This would be what we know today as the Private Sector.

And while Article Five deliberately and directly states how the Constitution may be amended to allow for Federal programs among anything else that need be added, there is no such amendment in place. Therefore, until this amendment is passed, the concept and immortal government programs remain unconstitutional. Federal programs are for this reason not by-products of the Preamble or the Fifth Article of the Constitution.

I also might add that while the Constitution is a founding document, it is still important today. Why do we have an amendment process if it was only important to the founding of our nation? It is absolutely still neccesary to Twenty-First Century politics, and never gets old. I find it demeaning to the purpose of the Constitution for my opposition to say that "Limiting a modern world to a way of life two hundred years ago is completely illogical," when he just outlined the process of amending the Constitution in great detail for us all! If the Constitution is amendable, and needs to be updated, then it can be updated. So it is not two hundred years old, it is absolutely up-to-date; and it is not only logical but neccesary to hold fast to it in order to keep our government from growing too large.

Finally, I would like to propose an alternative to governmental programs to provide the general welfare that would be, in my opinion, more in-line with the Founder's intentions. Privatization of each Federal program. For example, instead of having a centralized, single education system, why don't we have locally run schools, which would better conform to the needs of a particular community rather than an entire nation. There are many examples of how this would be beneficial in education, say that a Texas school wants to include a far broader understanding on Texas history, or a primarily Muslim community wishes to have an Islamic-based study. Same goes for every other program, by handing power to the People we can allow more personalized needs to be fulfilled.


eastcoastsamuel forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


It is to my disappointment that my opponent did not provide an argument for the second round, because until he does give a rebuttal I am unable to continue this debate. This, I think, does let us all see weakness and a lacking of credibility in my opponent. But like I said, I cannot continue upon relevant topics until he returns, so unfortunately all I have to say in his absence is that I entreat you to vote for the Pro side of this debate. Thank you, and I give the floor to my opposition to end this debate, if he manages to show up, that is.


I would like to make a sincere apology to my opponent for my forfeiting the previous round. Simply put, I was busy with school work and lost track of time--nothing more, nothing less. I will not waste precious time and space commenting on my opponent's ad hominem attack that the accidental forfeiting shows weakness and a lack of credibility. I will leave it up to the judge to determine if that gives enough grounds to reward conduct points.

I will proceed to give brief comments on my opponent's second round post before summarizing the entire round and show why the judge should proceed to award a ballot for the negation. Let's begin.

My opponent's second round post starts with noting that while the government's responsibility is to provide for the common welfare, the people establish said welfare, and that the government should not take over the whole of the people's welfare. My opponent proceeds to state that the Framers never intended for such programs to exist. Again, my opponent is tied down to the notion that the Framers intended that the Constitution is out of the question and should be the only grounds for our government to run on. As previously mentioned, the Framers intended for the Constitution to be built upon through Article Five and never had the intention of the government just being the Constitution. It should also be noted that we, as citizens of the United States, elect the leaders and representatives of the federal programs and associations we often debate over, so we actually have control over how exactly they should be run. This can be seen in electing our Congressmen; candidates for Congress have a specific agenda and, when/if elected, get assigned to committees that help run our programs. Through electing our representatives, we ultimately have control not only over how our country is run, but how our programs are run as well.

My opponent then proceeds to comment on Article Five, and that while it allows for the Constitution to be changed, there is no amendment that allows for such federal programs. This is a misunderstanding of the point I was attempting to advance. The point I was attempting to advance was that the Framers intended for the Constitution to simply be a building block on which our government can grow and prosper. Just because there is no amendment to allow for gay marriage does not mean gay marriage should not be encouraged in our society. Just because there is no amendment that allows for equal pay between men and women does not mean that there shouldn't be such equal pay. The government was never, ever meant to be tied down in such a way. Under both the preamble, which encourages the government to provide for citizens and for citizens to assist in running the programs and helping themselves, and Article Five, which encourages the growth of government beyond the Constitution, government programs are still constitutional.

My opponent goes on to state that the Constitution is still important today, even though it is a founding document. I do not dispute this assertion. It is important that the people still have rights--we can all agree that people should have the right to free speech, among others. But it is rather clear that there needs to be some restrictions on this right. You can't shout fire in a crowded theater, nor can you say lewd things in front of your high school class. These are okay and valid limitations. Under the original, unadulterated Constitution, there were no such restrictions. While we should to some degree keep in mind the Constitution, we also need to realize that it should and can be edited so our government does not become so restricted. My opponent states that I have, in essence, contradicted myself by outlining the process for amending the Constitution. However, this is again a misunderstanding. Not only does Article Five tell us to not be restricted by the original constitution, but it tells us that government must be able to grow and should not simply be restricted to one document, no matter the additions. The Framers intended for our government to grow and change, not simply be restricted to one document, no matter how many edits are made to it and no matter how many additions. My opponent ends this rebuttal by stating that we should keep fast to it to prevent the government from becoming too large, but he fails to cite why we should do this. Where exactly is the harm behind a "big" government? As mentioned before, the government's obligation is to ensure and provide for the common welfare. As long as the government does that principle obligation, where exactly is the harm? We see no word of this from my opponent, and this completely undermines his whole case.

My opponent ends his second round post by stating that an alterative to the governmental programs is to privatize the programs to be more-in-line with the Founders' intentions. I will not comment on this, for one good reason: this is entirely irrelevant to the topic of the debate. The debate focuses on whether or not programs are constitutional; to propose an alterative like this is irrelevant and should not be weighed whatsoever. The judge must ignore this ending.

In conclusion, the judge should issue a ballot in favor of the negation, Con, in this debate. I have demonstrated that the government's obligations is to provide for the common welfare in accordance with the Preamble, which the programs do and have the purpose of. I have demonstrated that it is illogical to be tied down to the constitution, and that as long as federal programs provide for the welfare of citizens, having a "big government" should not be a terrible concern. My opponent has not been able to satisfactorily prove that having a "big government" is bad, nor has he proved why the government should be tied down to the Constitution. My opponent has also shown several small, but relatively critical, misunderstandings about my own points, which in turn undermines his rebuttals. Simply put, my opponent has not been able to sufficiently prove why federal programs are unconstitutional, while I, the negation, have shown that federal programs do their job by serving the people, as outlined by the Preamble, and that the concept of constitutionality is flawed because the Founders never intended for the government to be tied down to a single document, as outlined by Article Five. The judge should place a firm ballot in favor of the negation.
Debate Round No. 3
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