The Instigator
robert.fischer
Pro (for)
Tied
14 Points
The Contender
bsufan101
Con (against)
Tied
14 Points

R: Treating the US Constitution as a "Living Document" ought to be prohibited.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/2/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,050 times Debate No: 5243
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (4)

 

robert.fischer

Pro

Resolved: Treating the US Constitution as a "Living Document" ought to be prohibited.

Definitions: In the context of this debate, I am going to define;
"Living Document" - A constitutional philosophy that allows for the (re)interpretation of the specific wording contained within the US Constitution or any of its ratified amendments; especially the Bill of Rights; when such a reinterpretation is used to modify the restrictions or limitations inherent in said constitution and amendments to allow for legislation or policy that was not conceived of as necessary at the time of writing. This is intended to allow the Constitution to reflect the times, changing in meaning to mirror public intent.
"Ought to prohibited" - Any legislation taken into consideration must be weighed according to the exact wording of the Constitution, in the context in which it was intended (as supported by contemporary accounts of, and other documents published by, the signers of the Constitution and it's supporters); and if legislation is found to, in any way, fail to remain compatible with the Constitution in this way, must be rejected on these grounds alone, regardless of how popular the legislation may be, or how useful it may seem.

Contentions:
The US Constitution is a beautifully written and conceived document that, while not perfect, is certainly still relevant as a system of governance and guidance. The amendment process was put in place for a reason, and that is to allow this amazing document to reflect the times as they change, while preventing any major shift from it's original intent; balancing change and flexibility with stability and constancy.
This does not mean that it is a completely flexible document. In recent years, many of its prohibitions and restrictions have been ignored to allow for popular legislation. If we really believe in the Constitution, we need to adhere by it.
bsufan101

Con

Yes you are correct, the constitution is a beautiful thing. Also you said that it was meant to change for the times. We need to remember that the constitution and those other documents you had stated were created in a period of time where the people did not trust the government at all, also the main parties involved with the creation of said documents were the New England merchants and the Southerner Plantation owners. Others had a say but not much. And as you can see Robert we are not in that time period meaning that we must have the ability to change pieces of this document to the changing times. A major point I will bring up is in the Bill of Rights article 2 the right to bear arms. We have had a number of debates much like this one about the meaning and the need for this right to even be hear in the 21st century. Also it is not like they can just change this willey nilly. they (Congress, House) need to get enough people to agree with the change when the vote comes. Around 11,000 amendments have been tried only a few have occurred.

Changes have been made, those changes helped our country. Women's right to vote. Blacks right to vote. Change needs to happen so our country changes with the needs of the people.
Debate Round No. 1
robert.fischer

Pro

It seems that you are making two major contentions; that the Constitution is outdated ipso facto that it was written in times that are fundamentally unlike our own, and that the Constitution ought to be modifiable through the amendment process.
I will address the later argument first; stating that it is simply irrelevant. In my opening argument, and I quote, "the amendment process was put in place for a reason, and that is to allow this amazing document to reflect the times as they change." You simply agree with this statement; there is no argument here (that you have presented). I agree that the Constitution ought to be amendable; nowhere will you find me saying otherwise.
My contention is that any change outside of an amendment is wrong, and ought to be enforced as unconstitutional (thus, null and void).
I would like to offer, for example, the federal prohibition of drug usage. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to legislate in this way. At least the prohibitionists in the 1920's were honest; they sought (and got) a constitutional amendment allowing the government to prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol; they understood that otherwise, the federal government would not have this power constitutionally.
I challenge you to cite one reference in the constitution that gives the government the power to restrict the usage of mind altering drugs. Sure, they can make it illegal to operate equipment on public roads under the influence, or the like, but an out and out prohibition in unconstitutional. It has no constitutional grounds!
This is exactly the type of thing that ought to be restricted (it is already "illegal" to go against the constitution, we need only to enforce it). If we pass a law that has no constitutional grounds, we do one of two things.
1) We ignore the constitution, thus completely negating the document, making it essentially a blank piece of paper, or
2) We de facto alter the constitution without an amendment (a- any law can only exist as legal if it is supported by the constitution. b- a given law having no constitutional grounds is declared legal by successful prosecution of violators; i.e. the courts uphold the law. c- therefore, the constitution must have 'changed' in order for the law to exist). Such a change is unconstitutional and paradoxical, and thusly the law ought to be expunged to avoid this paradox.
Any type of change to the Constitution not involving an amendment in wrong. Laws that violate the Constitution as it stands when the law is passed de facto change the Constitution (as shown above) without an amendment.
Therefore, any law that violates the constitution as it stands when passed, is wrong.
Another way to say, "changing the constitution without an amendment" is to call the Constitution a living document that can be so changed through interpretation (and thus, legislation).
Therefore, a "living document" constitution is wrong, and (as the resolution states), treating the US Constitution as a living document ought to be prohibited.
bsufan101

Con

Sorry, I was very tired when I posted last night and did not fully understand the argument set forth for this debate.

I would like to make a huge point that will blow your case clear out of the water. You said in your second statement that there was a ban on MJ. And that ban was unconstitutional. Well my friend you are mistaken. MJ was banned on a state wide basses. It is not the out right government that placed the ban it was the 50 states, sure Pres. Bush tried to get a ban placed and his efforts failed. Now in regards to the argument at had about the government making laws without having an amendment made I can only bring into the argument that of war time. The only time that the government should be allowed to make a law without amending the constitution is when we need to make a fast move like in time of war. The government should not have to wait for the amendment when the fate of our country is in parole. The only exception to this would be a draft. That is a proses for the congress to go though.
The only rule I set forth is it showed be allowed if:
1) The country is in danger.
2) Said action is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to protect the people of the United States.
Debate Round No. 2
robert.fischer

Pro

First, to quote your second round, "the only time that the government should be allowed to make a law without an amendment is… war time"
It seems that you have conceded that my primary contention is valid; that any legislation that doesn't meet a strict interpretation of the Constitution's limits ought to be rejected, unless we amend the Constitution to allow for such legislation.
The only contention that you offer is the stipulation that Congress ought to have such a power (the power to pass extra-constitutional laws that violate the strict restrictions offered in the Constitution) in times of war, when "the country is in danger," and, "said action is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to protect the people of the United States (emphasis in original).
This is, however, extremely dangerous. Firstly, how do you define "danger" or "absolutely necessary" in the context of these exceptions? Could I not argue that if our country is in danger of electing a poor president, and such a president could put our country in other perils, that suspending the election would be absolutely necessary to protect us from such a calamity? I certainly do no advocate such a policy, but it meets your requirements as written!
Open-ended statements such as those are rife with the potential for abuse and misinterpretation.
Besides, it was exactly under such a premise that a Republican congress and Pres. Bush launched the infamous ‘Patriot Act' that is so universally reviled as not only unconstitutional but a dangerous abuse of executive power!
One kink in the armor can let the fatal arrow pass through. If we allow one law, or laws in one specific scenario, to circumvent the limits imposed by our Constitution, we set a dangerous precedent that will likely be followed up with further and more perverse distortions of our Constitution.
We must reject all unconstitutional laws based upon their unconstitutionality alone; no matter how appealing, "necessary," or otherwise beneficial a law may be, if it is unconstitutional it MUST NOT be passed. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a constitution at all?
Making a constitution of any kind a, "living document" in fact makes it a dead document. As I have said before, being governed by a constitution that is subject to contentious and loose interpretation that can be tailored to fit any legislation at all is equivalent to being governed by a blank piece of paper; it becomes meaningless.
bsufan101

Con

The one thing I have to say to you and your argument is fallacy. I looked into it at college and my notes and your argument is fallacious.
My main point for this is that of the argument that you have given me. You really give no specifics for me to argue. YES you did say that the it was not good to challenge the constitution. However what exactly are you trying to stop the government from changing with amending. You have given me really no room to argue in this matter. I would like to toss this debate and count it as a tie. But I know you very well and I know you will somehow find away to make it look like you did give me room, and you are in the correct.

My second thing is that the argument of your which I think is " Making a national ban is unconstitutional." Then you have given me a topic that I could not fight, that no morally sound person can refute. But at no matter if you want to cheat then so bee it.

I can say this. When it comes to many laws like the ban on illegal substances, it is state determined. This goes same for drinking age. However the government can say no more money if you go away from the national standard. So changes to the country can be made if all states agree.

Now to get back to your resolution. "Treating the US Constitution as a "Living Document" ought to be prohibited." Even your own argument goes against your resolution. You are saying change the document, but are saying that without an amendment is unconstitutional. HOW THE HECK is banning mj even going along with the constitution Robert. IT IS STATE REGULATED just like drinking age, just like speed limits. The states decide if it should be done.

Again I think we should scrap this debate and let me start one. I know how a real debate needs to start. I have a trophy to prove it.
Debate Round No. 3
robert.fischer

Pro

Are you being serious?
I have my doubts as to your mettle as a debater if it was, in fact, you that posted the above argument. It was way below your par, my friend.
I have given you plenty of points to content; in fact, my first argument alone had several. You could have challenged my definitions, or you could have challenged any of my contentions.
But, you did not.
You have basically conceded defeat; you have not challenged my arguments at all, in any real way. My initial argument, and I quote, "its [the Constitution's] prohibitions and restrictions have been ignored to allow for popular legislation," has remained unscathed, not to mention the resolution which I uphold, that "treating the US Constitution as a living document (the definition of which has been untouched) ought to be prohibited." You have hardly addressed this at all.
The only refutation that you have offered is that we should allow unconstitutional legislation to be passed in times of crisis, such as war. Besides being a very weak argument, it is easily handled anyhow. You could simply amend the Constitution to allow for such an process (though it would be extremely inadvisable, as I have reasoned above).
This leaves you with... nothing. No argument. Nowhere have you even claimed that the resolution is false, which you must to as the "CON" debater.
Unless you can disprove the resolution, we must assume it to be true; and if the resolution is upheld true, then the round goes to the "PRO." Sorry, man, but that's the way the cookie crumbles when you don't even offer up one single refuting argument!
My argument was not fallacious in any way. You cannot simply call an argument "a fallacy" and hope that it become true. If it was a fallacy, how, and which fallacy was it? No, no, wait, don't tell me. You had your chance to call out the fallacy, but it's too late, because mentioning it in your next speech would be unfair (I wouldn't have a chance to defend your charges of fallaciousness if you specify them after my last speech).
Furthermore, it is the burden of the CON debater to address the appropriateness of the resolution BEFORE accepting the debate challenge! If you didn't like the resolution, you shouldn't have accepted the debate, and you CERTAINLY ought to have mentioned it before now, when you realized that you have no argument, and are grasping for a way out of the mess you created with poor argumentation. That's pretty lame, man.
Finally, my argument does not once go against the resolution; my example of marijuana is just that - an example. Yes, I say that we ought to change the document with amendments, but the resolution discusses a "living document" which is defined as "a... philosophy that allows for... a reinterpretation [that] is used to modify the restrictions or limitations inherent in said constitution and amendments to allow for legislation or policy that was not conceived of as necessary at the time of writing", or in other words, a change without an amendment. Therefore, my arguments fit the resolution. Besides, even IF (as you claim) the federal government didn't directly outlaw marijuana, it does so de facto with the threat of withholding federal funds.
But hey, I certainly don't want to rain on your parade.
I have enjoyed this debate, and thank you for your participation, but I do assert that I have most certainly won, and I encourage anyone who votes on this debate to recognize this and vote for me.
bsufan101

Con

The only thing that I can say to you is HOW DARE YOU. How could you use a character attack in such a way. I know I did not do that well in this debate. You must remember I have not debated sense my tournament in March. If you were the debater you claim to be then you would have just plainly said I win not bash me as a debater because you and be both know when I am at my high and have time to really structure a debate I win trophies. That is another thing where the heck was your structure. You had no organisation in your debate it was like a ball of stuff.

Again I KNOW I did not do my best in this it is my first time on here and it is hard coming from intercollegiate debate season where you have 20min prep time and go right then and debate not waiting for hours for a response. Next debate we have will be on my terms and my style of structuring a debate.

But being a gracious competitor good game. I tap my knuckles on the table for you. If you do not know what that means you really never debated. LOL
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
robert.fischerbsufan101Tied
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Vote Placed by Stereoprism 8 years ago
Stereoprism
robert.fischerbsufan101Tied
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Vote Placed by bsufan101 8 years ago
bsufan101
robert.fischerbsufan101Tied
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Vote Placed by robert.fischer 8 years ago
robert.fischer
robert.fischerbsufan101Tied
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