The Instigator
draxxt
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Haezed
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Resolved: In a democratic society, Justice ought to be forsaken for the law.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+6
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/29/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,642 times Debate No: 9811
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (29)
Votes (0)

 

draxxt

Con

I would like to thank my opponent in advance. This being one of her first debates, I wish her the best of luck.

I will let her offer the first arguments, however some clarification is in order:
I DEFINE:
DEMOCRACY- government by the people; especially : rule of the majority (In this case, we exclude republics that follow a loosely democratic view)*
SOCIETY-a voluntary association of individuals for common ends; especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession*
JUSTICE-1 a : the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishment.*
just-acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good*
OUGHT- [a] moral obligation [to].*
FORSAKE- to renounce or turn away from entirely*
LAW- a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority.*

None of these appear to be abusive insofar as the scope of the resolution is concerned. If any of them are, I would ask that my opponent offer a counter-definition to the one(s) I have offered.

I will set a few ground rules:
1) Do not use any one country as the absolution in this debate. Any and all references should be merely that as we are debating the scope of an imaginary society in which a question such as this would come up. (For example: "Ethiopia did it, therefore, we should too!" is an abusive attack because this imaginary society is not the United states.)
2) My opponent must call me Thug Life during this debate. (You can request that I call you something other than your username or your real name.)
3) R1 for my opponent begins the establishment of cases. R2 for me begins my case and refutations. From there, we debate based on cases and rebuttals.

I hope all of this is to my opponent's liking. I wish you the best of luck.
Haezed

Pro

Resolved: In a democratic society, Justice ought to be forsaken for the law.

Definitions: I propose the following counter definition for "law:" From the fifth edition BLD "Law, in its generic sense, is a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force.

I would define "democratic society" as a democracy. I would then use BLD's definition of democracy: "That form of government in which the sovereign power resides in and is exercised by the whole body of free citizens directly or indirectly through a system of representation, as distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy or oligarchy.

Observation I: The Resolution does not require that the laws be unjust.

The resolution would cover scenarios where the application of a preexisting law is unjust in a particular case but does not presume that all of a democracies' laws are unjust. In such cases of conflict between justice and a body of laws, should society follow the law or should it bend the law to fit, retroactively, the notions of justice presented by a particular case? An example might be a " felony murder" law which holds a criminal has committed murder if anyone dies in the commission of a felony.

Observation II: The Resolution does not require that the law be inflexible.

The law can be written so that it bends to fit justice as much as the human mind can determine in advance. Torts such as negligence and product liability often dovetail with a societies' current thinking. A given jury will apply the evidence to the law using broad standards which give them latitude to do justice.

Again, reasonably interpreted, the Resolution presents scenarios where, for example, a jury is boxed in by an unjust law. Another example would be the Scopes Monkey Trial. If you read the transcript of the trial, the Trial Judge in that case was no buffoon. Essentially, defendant admitted the crime as it was written.

Fortunately, it is possible for the law to have an overall governing document like the American Constitution which is an organic document which changes over time. It abides by precedent to a large degree, perhaps doing some injustices in the process, but the Constitution does evolve. Democracies develop written or unwritten "constitutions" over time.

Observation III: The Resolution does not require that either Thug Life or me prove an absolute proposition.

It would be unreasonable to require Thug Life to defend the proposition that Law ought always be forsaken for justice. This would result in no law at all. It would be equally unreasonable to say that Thug Life can win by presenting a single example of where the law should be forsaken for justice.

Interpreted reasonably, the Resolution speaks to scenarios such as I have presented. The law has been written or at least accepted in a democracy but a situation arises in which its application is unjust. As a general matter, do we bend the law to find "justice" in a particular case?

I affirm the resolution because as difficult as it may be at times, democracies must have laws that do not bend to post hoc notions of justice.

Where a democracy has enacted laws, they should be enforced and obeyed for the following reasons:

I. Societies requires prior notice of the law to function properly.

Knowing the law will be followed, it behooves all of us to know the law. If you are 18 years old and dating a 15 year old, you might want to look up the laws for statutory rape. If you are planning a business deal, the law allows you some predictability in how the Court's will enforce a bargain, even if it is deemed unjust or unfair in the end.

Knowing the law will be enforced, it behooves all of us to work to make the rules as fair as possible. If we know a jury can disregard the law for some amorphous definition of justice, and certainly if that became a typical practice, we would not need to spend as much time and thought into crafting well written (or spoken) laws.

II. A rule of men and not of law leads to tyranny.

There is an excellent reason why the law abhors post hoc legislation. It is too easy to bend the law and "be fair" or "just" for the sympathetic, dominant or popular party. What is "good" or "moral" is in the eye of the beholder.

Without guidelines , a jury might convict a man who morally should be punished but has violated no written law. The law stands as a bulwark against tyranny. Even bringing a prosecution against a defendant is an awesomely powerful act. If Defendants no longer know that the law will be scrupulously followed, (even if that means he gets off on a "technicality") the power of the state is made that much more terrible. Political prosecutions or prosecutions against unpopular figures such as Enron executives would be good examples of where allowing notions of justice to trump the law would be particularly dangerous.

III. Enforcement of the law is essential to preserve democratic ideals.

A democracy is founded on Lockean notions of consent of the governed. The Resolution presupposes that a democratic body has enacted a law. If the law as enforced routinely does not reflect the will of that sovereign body, the governed have not given their consent to what actually happens.

Any vote but Affirmative would be illogical. A democracy relies on the consent of the governed as made clear by majority votes. If the vote of the majority or of its representatives, i.e. the law, is not followed, the society is not democratic. Therefore, in a democracy, justice must be forsaken for the law as enacted with the consent of the governed.

Thug Life, call me Ishmael.
Debate Round No. 1
draxxt

Con

draxxt forfeited this round.
Haezed

Pro

Haezed forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
draxxt

Con

draxxt forfeited this round.
Haezed

Pro

Haezed forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
draxxt

Con

draxxt forfeited this round.
Haezed

Pro

Haezed forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
draxxt

Con

draxxt forfeited this round.
Haezed

Pro

Haezed forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
29 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Eros 7 years ago
Eros
Ah yes, this is quite the challenge. So interesting yet no takers.
Justice has the inherent moral imperative whereas binding customs do not.
There is an acceptable supposition though.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
The wording of the resolution still confuses me. Are you saying that whatever is "just" should be ignored because the law should be upheld above all else? Or are you saying that the law should be ignored because justice should be upheld above all else?
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
That depends entirely on one's conception of due.
Posted by mattrodstrom 7 years ago
mattrodstrom
then again I guess its definitions
Posted by mattrodstrom 7 years ago
mattrodstrom
givin away your case draxxt
Posted by draxxt 7 years ago
draxxt
Hgh- That's not true. Black Law's dictionary defines justice as "giving each his due". The law doesn't necessarily give each his due.
Posted by HghDnsty 7 years ago
HghDnsty
I'm confused, in my mind, Justice means that the Law has been properly applied. If someone kills someone else, the law says they must serve time and the application of Justice means that that persion will actually do time. As such, justice is simply an adjective to describe when the law has been properly applied.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
I'm personally a huge fan of 2 round debates, which is why I love debating Brian. Three round debates could be useful depending on the topic and who's debating. Not only is a 5 round debate absolutely dreadful to participate in (it gets so boring and redundant, like I said), but I *highly* doubt that someone -- let alone more than 1 person -- would actually read it. In that case, all that will happen is vote bombing in the sense that people will vote without reading and based on other things. More importantly, I think it sucks for the debaters who have to harp on one subject over and over. They just overall suck in general. Big time.
Posted by draxxt 7 years ago
draxxt
If it were in an LD format, my value would be values o.o
Posted by Haezed 7 years ago
Haezed
I sense a debate topic in my future: Resolved: That five round debates on debate.org have value. ;)
No votes have been placed for this debate.