The Instigator
badgerking30
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
jaweber1
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points

Has the constitution lost it's meaning over the years since it was written in 1787

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
jaweber1
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,819 times Debate No: 12020
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)

 

badgerking30

Con

I was listening to some people the other day and we had been talking about how the constitution been more of just a piece of paper more than a guide of how our government should work. I disagree I think the constitution still has a giant influence in our country.
jaweber1

Pro

Thanks Con, for starting the debate. I took the liberty of establishing a resolution since your title and argument offer different topics, one of meaning and the other of influence.

Resolved: The United States Constitution has lost the influence it once possessed in its founding years.

In recent years, it has become more apparent than ever that the United States Constitution is losing its influence in today's society. To display the diminishing influence of the Constitution, I will analyze the three institutions created in it's development. These three institutions are, of course, the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches.

These institutions have taken full advantage of the Constitution by means of an "interpretative approach" of reading its regulations.

The first example I wish to bring to light is the "US Patriot Act." The Patriot Act has several sections that allow the Federal Bureau of Investigations to violate the fourth Amendment right of United States citizens.

I quote the fourth Amendment here: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." [1]

Section 215 [2&3] of the PATRIOT Act grants the FBI the authority to request an order "requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)" relevant to an investigation of international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Although the amendment is entitled "Access to Certain Business Records for Foreign Intelligence and International Terrorism Investigations," the scope of the authority is far broader and applies to any records relevant to the individual. This amendment, which overrides state library confidentiality laws, permits the FBI to compel production of business records, medical records, educational records and library records without a showing of "probable cause" (the existence of specific facts to support the belief that a crime has been committed or that the items sought are evidence of a crime). Instead, the government only needs to claim that the records may be related to an ongoing investigation related to terrorism or intelligence activities. Individuals served with a search warrant issued under FISA rules may not disclose, under penalty of law, the existance of the warrant or the facts that records were provided to the government

Then, Section 206 [2&4] expands FISA to permit "roving wiretap" authority, which allows the interception of any communications made to or by an intelligence target without specifying the particular telephone line, computer or other facility to be monitored. Prior law required third parties (such as common carriers and others) "specified in court-ordered surveillance" to provide assistance necessary to accomplish the surveillance.

The "generic" roving wiretap orders raise significant constitutional issues, as they do not comport with the Fourth Amendment's requirement that any search warrant "particularly describe the place to be searched." That deficiency becomes even more significant where the private communications of law-abiding American citizens might be intercepted incidentally.

Clearly these two sections show that the USA Patriot Act was created in spite of the US Constitution and passed by both the Legislative and Executive branches.

The next example that I will bring to light is the Butler Act of 1925, Tennessee state law.

The Butler act states "It shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." [5]

This act is a direct violation of the first US Amendment Right which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."[6]

Later this bill charged John Scopes for teaching the theory of evolution to a high school Biology class. He was taken to court and found guilty in spite of the US Constitution that gives all men the right to free speech and charged $100. He then took the case to the US Supreme court where they too accepted state law over Constitutional law and found him guilty however overturned the case because of a technicality in fine issued by the state court.[7]

Although the Butler Bill was later appealed, this shows a direct loss of influence from the US Constitution where both state legislature and National Judicial Supreme Court declared that the state laws was more supreme than his Constitutional right as a US Citizen.

The last example I believe I will have room for in this phase of my argument will be on the Death Penalty. The death penalty is a direct violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which states "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."[8]

The death penalty is severe in the damage it causes to the human body. Inflicting mortal damage on the human body, whether by electric chair or lethal injection, is equivalent to or even worse than torture, and violates basic human rights that are inherent and irrevocable. The death penalty is also cruel and torturous in the way that it inflicts psychological damage on convicts that wait on death row.

Not only are guilty men inflicted upon by the death penalty but also the innocent who were put through trials unjustly. There is reason to believe that a number of innocent lives have been taken throughout the history of the death sentence. Marquis de Lafayette describes the situation most aptly "I shall ask for the abolition of the death penalty until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me." [9]

This displays a lack of influence of the Constitution in all Branches, Judicial, Executive, and Legislative for allowing this punishment.

Combined with the other examples outlined above, I have effectively displayed a diminishing influence of the U.S. Constitution in the roles of our Governing bodies. If these bodies are capable of viewing the Constitution in ways that most benefit their privatized or partisan goals, then what higher influence is being enforced when state laws assume the authority to ignore constitutional authority? When established institutions rule in favor of state laws over Constitutional rights?

The answer is simple, the Constitution is being used when it is needed and loosely interpreted when it conflicts with the interest of governing institutions.

Sources.
[1] US Constitution - http://www.usconstitution.net...
[2] H.R. 3162 aka. USA Patriot Act - http://www.govtrack.us...
[3] US Code Title 50, Chapter 36, sub chapter 4 in reference to Section 215 of the Patriot act - http://www.law.cornell.edu...
[4] US Code Title 50, Chapter 36, sub chapter 1 - http://www.law.cornell.edu...
[5] Butler Act - http://www.law.umkc.edu...
[6]US Constitution - http://www.usconstitution.net...
[7] Scopes Trial - http://www.law.umkc.edu...
[8] US Constitution - http://www.usconstitution.net...
[9] Death Trial innocents - http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
Debate Round No. 1
badgerking30

Con

I was listening to some people the other day and we had been talking about how the constitution been more of just a piece of paper more than a guide of how our government should work. I disagree I think the constitution still has a giant influence in our country.

Let me start by saying thank you for being the pro in this debate, now on to the patriot act it was decided very long ago that certain rights can be taken away in times of war or if you are using your rights to harm others. The patriot act is another way of keeping us safe. It's like you a friend and two other people are in the room. Lets think for a moment that you are the government and your friend is the United States the other two are terrorist. You over hear them talking about when Your friend gets back they are going to beat him over the head and murder him. Well you warn your friend and that way is prepared and can now fight back. The patriot act is just like that, They listen in and when they believe a phrase you say is a threat and could harm America then they jump in and help. Even so the Constitution clearly states "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. " Not once has a criminal trial come up where this right has been violated.

Not lets move on to the Butler Act of 1925, As it states in the Constitution "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." But where does the line of power get drawn? Obviously the Act of 1925 was not congress' doing more it was a states decision let's make something clear, the power the government holds over the states is noticeable but the states control what happens in themselves. If the Constitution's influence hadn't been there the man would not have been appealed at all.

Finally let's move on to your death penalty argument. Innocent men that have been put on death row ( God rest their souls) we can blame the attorneys. The men innocent obviously had something that stuck out like a swore thumb you cant not blame the influence of the constitution on the quality of the investigation. lethal injection does not cause pain, the only pain caused is if the man sticking the needle in misses. "nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." This is not cruel it is retribution it does not hurt him /her.

I have made my point the Constitutions influence in this country has not been lost. If it had been, why is lethal injection painless? Why was the Butler Act of 1925 repealed? If anything people are starting to look to the Constitution much more now. They use it as a governing body.

SOURCES
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org...
http://www.ratical.org...
http://www2.scholastic.com...
jaweber1

Pro

I am going to start off by saying your grammar is horrible and it is really hard to follow what it is that you are saying. For example, in your first sentence you state the following: "I was listening to some people the other day and we had been talking about how the constitution been more of just a piece of paper more than a guide of how our government should work."

You start by saying you were listening to some people and then you switch to say that you as a collective group were talking. Then, you use the wrong case for the verb "to be", stating "we had been" rather than "we were". The following part, "how the constitution had been", follows the same mistake. Corrected, it should read "how the constitution was". Next, you used the prepositional indicator "of" in a statement that is obviously comparative and should be replaced with "than". In the last part of this sentence, you correctly used the comparative pronoun "than", however, you lack a conjunction to tie the two parts together. Your grammatically corrected sentence reads "I was talking to some people the other day about the constitution and how it was more than a piece of paper or a guide of how the government should work but it was blah blah blah."

I hope you can understand my frustration. In a debate anytime your grammar or wording is illegible, it takes away from your argument, your credibility, and your clarity. I am by no means a "grammar freak", however, I do expect to be able to read through your argument smoothly and clearly without pausing to decipher the meaning of your words. As I have already used up nearly 1,700 characters deciphering your first sentence and and explaining the consequences of bad grammar in a debate.

To begin my rebuttal, I will criticize your response to my first example, the US Patriot Acts. My first criticism of your response is that you never actually attacked my main points, instead you ironically stated that it is alright to listen in on Americans and to invade their privacy which is actually stating that you are for the US Patriot Act and thus not influenced very deeply by the fourth amendment of the Constitution.

To recap the fourth amendment of the constitution states that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The next part I find hilarious. You begin by stating "Even so the Constitution clearly states "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

So, logically the only interpretation I can really make of this is that you believe it is alright to violate the fourth amendment of the Constitution as long as we maintain the integrity of the sixth amendment. What a joke. If you compromise the integrity of one right of an American citizen, assuring that his other rights still remain does not rectify anything. By your logic, if I cut your arm off but I leave your other limbs intact, I have done right by you.

In your first response, I believe it is clear your argument was pretty much an attack against your own position rather than mine. If anything, you actually just reinforced my argument.

Well I didn't mention in my first tantrum, but spelling is just as important as grammar. As you stated "Not lets move on to the Butler Act of 1925".

To begin, I'll answer your question. The line of power for Congress is drawn at any point not specifically addressed by Congress, the remaining undiscussed areas are up to the States to decide. It is to be understood that all amendments were voted and approved upon by Congress, thus all amendments are to be aptly followed by the States without the authority to make changes within their own state house.

Thus, the Butler Act of 1925 was indeed against two different amendments of the Constitution, the first and the tenth. Since the tenth amendment has not been identified in this debate it reads "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."[1B] Then at the end of your argument you confuse the facts of "the man", Scopes's trial. If you had understood the trial as outlined or as sourced, you would have known that his case was not appealed because of any Constitutional right but instead because the Judge made the mistake of fining Scope himself, when this is explicitly the right of the jury under Tennessee law, not the Constitution.

Then to counter your last statement, you miss the point of my argument. Innocent men were put to death by a faulty trial. If capital punishment were not in place these men would still have their lives. You ignored my argument of cruel and torturous punishment of those convicts still waiting on death row, as it psychologically inflicts damage upon those inmates. You also ignored Lafayette's remarks on the capabilities of "human judgement".

You state that people are beginning to look at the Constitution more now. Ha, on what grounds do you make this outrageous claim. You have, successfully, strengthened a large number of my arguments in this round.

(1) First, you underlining state your position for the Patriot Act which compromises the integrity of the fourth amendment.

(2) Then you pretty much state that it is alright for the Patriot Act to violate the fourth amendment as long as the integrity of the sixth amendment.

(3) Next, you irrationally state that it was alright for the TN to develop the Butler Act in spite of the first amendment.

(4) Finally, you state the Constitutional rights of innocent men were not violated in their unjust execution, which is a direct violation of these men's fourteenth amendment to the Constitution.

The fourteenth amendment, section one states "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."[2B]

(4...)If the unjust execution of in innocent man isn't the deprivation of a man's life than I am not sure what is. This is clearly a violation of men's rights yet Capital Punishment stands strong.

In conclusion, all of my original arguments have been strengthened by your "counter-argument" this round, your bad grammar, your bad spelling, the absence of clarity in your voice, the lack of in-text identifiers with your sources, and my review of your counter-argument.

I expect a better counter argument, with better grammar, a clear voice, in-text identifiers for your sources, and better rebuttals in the next round.

Sources.
[1B] US Constitution - 10th Amendment - http://www.usconstitution.net...
[2B] US Constitution - 14th Amendment - http://www.usconstitution.net...
Debate Round No. 2
badgerking30

Con

badgerking30 forfeited this round.
jaweber1

Pro

Well considering my opponents forfeited round, my last counter-argument stands unchallenged. Considering my final argument made in the second round I urge you to vote Pro - for grammar, for sources, for conduct, and for the best argument.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Marauder 7 years ago
Marauder
I am tempted to semanticly argue againt the resolution, that the paper means the same today as it did before, wethor people simply listen to is not relevant, but I know thats not the argument you mean to have. But from the resolution it could be construed you do.
Posted by Cogito-ergo-sum 7 years ago
Cogito-ergo-sum
I will happily take on this debate if 'badgerking30' doesn't mind the opponent being a non-American?
Posted by frenchmoosetwo 7 years ago
frenchmoosetwo
no one will dare accept a dbate started by chuck noris himself..
Posted by Cody_Franklin 7 years ago
Cody_Franklin
I could semantic the hell out of this if I wanted to.
Posted by Mirza 7 years ago
Mirza
I did not criticize you, but corrected what I thought was a mistake on your part. In fact, it does look like a mistake because you say, "I dont disagree with you that the Constitution is powerful and influential" and then "I disagree that it is JUST a piece of paper." -- To me, it looks like you agree with the former, but not the latter. If not, ignore what I said.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
If you send this direct, I'll do it after my AP exams on Thursday.
Posted by CogitoErgoCogitoSum 7 years ago
CogitoErgoCogitoSum
@Mirza... I know what he said. I did not say that he said that is what he said. WTF did I just say?

I said "I disagree that"... not "I disagree with you that".

Mirza, please read my words before criticizing me for what I say. My comments stand on their own.
Posted by Mirza 7 years ago
Mirza
CogitoErgoCogitoSum,

He did not say that it was just a piece of paper. He said that he disagreed with people who said that.
Posted by badgerking30 7 years ago
badgerking30
true true Insert name here XD and sum i know it's a contract but what i dont understand is how people can give it such little meaning if we didnt have the constitution than our country would have never made it then. But we have administrations that go against it and there is no punishment.
Posted by CogitoErgoCogitoSum 7 years ago
CogitoErgoCogitoSum
I dont disagree with you that the Constitution is powerful and influential. Its a contract, you do realize? Between the government and its people.

I disagree that it is JUST a piece of paper. Its a piece of paper like any contract is a piece of paper, like the Bible is a piece of paper, like your high school diploma is JUST a piece of paper. JUST? I think not. Cash money is just pieces of paper, too.

These things have meaning BECAUSE we give them meaning and because they represent something greater than ourselves.

The Constitution cannot be compromised without the government losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by jaweber1 7 years ago
jaweber1
badgerking30jaweber1Tied
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Total points awarded:07