The Instigator
mongeese
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
Cavil
Pro (for)
Winning
17 Points

School vouchers are unconstitutional because they go against the separation of church and state.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Cavil
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/30/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,994 times Debate No: 8478
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (18)
Votes (5)

 

mongeese

Con

Some people have claimed that because school vouchers can end up with government funding a child to go to a religious school, it is unconstitutional.
I think that this argument is false.

Note that I am opposed to school vouchers, but I use arguments other than the one above. I want someone who is against school vouchers for reasons including the one above to accept this debate and defend the point, and a debate will then follow.

Thank you to whoever accepts this debate. Good luck.
Cavil

Pro

First, I'm personally undecided on the issue of school vouchers. But this looked interesting.

My First contention is this: If parents have to get school vouchers to send their children to religious schools this violates the separation of church and state. People should have the freedom to use religious facilities (mainly schools and churches) without interference by the state. If they are required to get certification from the state then it is no longer separate from the church. Therefore school vouchers are unconstitutional.

Second contention: school vouchers are a prerequisite unconstitutionality. Once the state has the power to choose whether or not a student can go to a religious school versus a public school then it has the power to significantly violate the separation of church and state. For example, the state could choose to deny a voucher for a student who wanted to go to a muslim school and then grant vouchers to every student who wanted to go to a catholic school. This would certainly violate the separation of church and state. Rather than giving the state this power we should simply leave parents free to choose which ever school they want. This ensures the separation of church and state.

Third Contention: requiring parents to get certification from the state to leave a public school is a violation of the separation. If parents can't get a voucher than their forced to keep their kids in the religiously neutral environment. But the neutral environment is in fact a suppression of religion within students. If students cannot grow up with their religion then they may begin to leave it behind. In this respect voucher programs violate the separation of church and state by suppressing religion. My alternative is that rather than trying to ensure a neutral environment schools should simply let differing faiths co-exist without intervention.
Debate Round No. 1
mongeese

Con

Thank you for accepting this debate.

"If parents have to get school vouchers to send their children to religious schools this violates the separation of church and state."
The parents aren't forced to send their children to a religious school. They can choose to send their child to a religious school. They can also send their child to a secular school.

From the United States Bill of Rights, First Amendment [1]:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Any school voucher law would not specify religious schools. It would generalize to any private school in America. To restrict someone from using their school voucher on something religious would be "prohibiting the free exercise thereof." A person has the right to choose to go to a religious school as much as he does the right to go to a secular school.

"People should have the freedom to use religious facilities (mainly schools and churches) without interference by the state."
They do.

"If they are required to get certification from the state then it is no longer separate from the church."
They are not required to use government funding. It's that anyone can go, but if you can't afford it, and you get a voucher from the government, then you can suddenly afford to go to a religious school. Really, school vouchers don't restrict anybody's rights. The government does not choose which private school you can go to. However, restricting the vouchers only to secular schools would be a violation of the First Amendment.

"School vouchers are a prerequisite unconstitutionality. Once the state has the power to choose whether or not a student can go to a religious school versus a public school then it has the power to significantly violate the separation of church and state."
The state never gets the power to choose whether or not a student can go to a religious school versus a secular school. That is the student's choice, or, at least, the parents' choice. It is in no way the government's choice.

"For example, the state could choose to deny a voucher for a student who wanted to go to a muslim school and then grant vouchers to every student who wanted to go to a catholic school."
They could, but they don't. The state could choose to fund churches. But they don't. Because it's unconstitutional. There's always the option for a government to do unconstitutional acts, but until it does, it isn't unconstitutional.

"Rather than giving the state this power we should simply leave parents free to choose which ever school they want. This ensures the separation of church and state."
Yes. However, that power is already with the parents, even with school vouchers. "Rather" implies that they don't already do that. And yet, they do.

"Requiring parents to get certification from the state to leave a public school is a violation of the separation."
The logic is true, but the independent clause is false. Parents are not required to get certification to leave a public school. They can send their student to a religious private school without interference from the government. However, if they are going to use money from the government, they have to apply for a voucher. However, the voucher is not associated with any one religion. Once a child has a voucher, that child can go to any private school, religious or not. So, really, they never violate this separation of church and state.

"If parents can't get a voucher than their forced to keep their kids in the religiously neutral environment."
Oh, so now you're arguing that without vouchers, public schools are unconstitutional? This means that vouchers increase constitutionality. If a parent wants their child to leave public, secular school, and go to a religious private school instead, that parent can either pay for the private school or apply for a voucher.

"But the neutral environment is in fact a suppression of religion within students. If students cannot grow up with their religion then they may begin to leave it behind."
So, you're arguing that having separation of church and state in public schools is unconstitutional? There's still church.

"In this respect voucher programs violate the separation of church and state by suppressing religion."
No, they do not. Vouchers give the option of religion. They also give the option of secularism. If anyone does any suppression or religion, it would have to be the parents, not the government.

"My alternative is that rather than trying to ensure a neutral environment schools should simply let differing faiths co-exist without intervention."
However, when different faiths want to teach different faiths, and then you throw in atheists, then you have a mess. It is simplest to leave public schools secular, and then allow kids who want to go to religious private schools to do so.

So, first, my opponent claims that the existence of school vouchers leads to a connection between church and state, which is unconstitutional, even though the phrase "separation of church and state" is found nowhere in the Constitution. Then, my opponent claims that a lack of vouchers, and students going to public school, is a restriction of church by the state, and thus unconstitutional. By my opponent's logic, anything the government does is unconstitutional. Obviously, he is wrong. Public school gives people a secular, but not completely atheist, education, but they can receive a religious education at a local church, synagogue, mosque, etc., or they can apply for a voucher for either a secular or a religious private school.

In conclusion, my opponent has conflicting arguments that ultimately die against my arguments and the Constitution.

1. http://www.usconstitution.net...
Cavil

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for a swift response.

First I'll run over what a school voucher is, then I'll go down my case refuting everything he said against it and clarifying what I've said. I'll end by looking at what my opponent said and affirming based on his perception of the term voucher.

My opponent said in the first round that:
"Some people have claimed that because school vouchers can end up with government funding a child to go to a religious school, it is unconstitutional."

Okay, I accepted this. Then found out what a school voucher was:
"A school voucher, also called an education voucher, is a certificate issued by the government by which parents can pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school to which they are assigned." -Wikipedia

My basic assumption going into the first round was that a voucher was something parents had to get to transfer their kids out of an assigned public school. I based my case off of this My opponent never clarified what he considered to be a school voucher. Your going to accept my definition because:
A: Because my opponent never clarified anything from his first to posts (even though he could have).
B: My definition is not only the first but the only warranted definition that has come into this round.
C: Because my definition was the only one that was accepted in the first round without any contest by my opponent.

Going to my case:
First Contention: I never said that parents were forced to send their kids to religious schools, the Con misunderstands. What I meant was that with school vouchers parents have to have a certificate from the government that allows them to transfer their children from a public school to a private school. If they want to go to a religious school they still need the voucher at which point it does violate separation of church and state.

The Con says that people do have the freedom to use religious facilities under the voucher system. But this is using his definition which he never explained at the beginning of the debate. With my definition the voucher system does violate freedom by forcing students to get vouchers in order to transfer.
His third objection is that the state paying for education is fine. However this is based on his definition which he never clarified, so the attack is nullified.

To my second contention. He says the state never gets the power to choose. However this ignores the fact that students do not receive a voucher then they cannot leave the public school. The state does have the choice, so the attack is nullified.
He says that states do not discriminate between religions. However that misses the point: if we say school vouchers are constitutional then that discrimination could very likely happen. In a context of a voucher the state has to choose whether or not a student will be allowed to transfer to a private school.
Finally he says that under a voucher program they do have the freedom to choose. But this is again working under his definition of voucher, which as I have said we should not accept.

To my third contention. Again he uses his definition which he never clarified in the first round.
He then says that I argue that vouchers increase constitutionality, however this is misunderstood. I was attacking the system of vouchers that would required a student to get a voucher from the state before they can leave a public school.
I was not arguing that the separation of church and state was unconstitutional, but that the voucher program interferes with ability of parents to pull their children out of the secularized environment. He says there's still church but that is beside the point. The point is that the secularized environment in the school still suppresses religion, the church has no impact on the school.
I am going to drop the argument that:
"rather than trying to ensure a neutral environment schools should simply let differing faiths co-exist without intervention."
I was going off topic and I'm not going to bother with it. But the point still stands: that requiring students to get vouchers to transfer to a private or religious school violates the separation because it interferes with the students ability to choose a religious school.

Going to the bottom of his post.
He says that the phrase "separation of church and state" never appears in the Constitution. But he never gives you any reason why we should interpret strictly on the text of the Constitution, so this is no reason to negate. It is the authority of the Supreme court to decide on the authoritative interpretation of the Constitution. This is the only effective way to settle disputes over interpretation. The court ruled in Everson v. Board of Education:
"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another."
This establishes that there is separation of church and state under the Constitution and the voucher system is unconstitutional.

My opponent stated that:
"my opponent claims that a lack of vouchers, and students going to public school, is a restriction of church by the state, and thus unconstitutional. By my opponent's logic, anything the government does is unconstitutional."
However, as I've shown, I did not refer to the lack of vouchers but to the system of vouchers as a whole. It is not that going to public school is a restriction but that the voucher system allows the state to interfere if they try to leave. My logic is not contradictory the state can not offer vouchers and be constitutional.

My opponents perceives vouchers as the state paying for a transfer from public to private school. He says that the system would be applied equally and that students could get money for secular or religious institution. However this violates the separation as established by the Supreme court because it aids religions. So even if you accept my opponents definition of voucher then you are going to affirm because even that is unconstitutional.

I've effectively refuted my opponents important attacks and proven that the voucher system is unconstitutional under the separation of church and state (which is in the constitution). For all these reasons you should vote affirmative.
Debate Round No. 2
mongeese

Con

Thank you for this response.

My opponent misunderstands Wikipedia's definition of a school voucher. A school voucher allows parents to use money provided by government to pay for private education.
From Wikipedia:
"Vouchers are designed to provide citizens freedom to spend their tax money as they choose for the type of school they want."
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Wikipedia does not say that school vouchers are required, because they are not. If the parents have the money to pay for the private school by themselves, then they can pay without government help. However, if you're going to use government money, the government has to approve of what you're going to do with the money. School vouchers only increase people's options. They do not limit the options of anybody.

"What I meant was that with school vouchers parents have to have a certificate from the government that allows them to transfer their children from a public school to a private school. If they want to go to a religious school they still need the voucher at which point it does violate separation of church and state."
For one thing, school vouchers are NOT required, which makes this entire argument crumble. For another, that's like saying, "I have to go through a toll road to get to my church! This is unconstitutional!" This is flawed.

"With my definition the voucher system does violate freedom by forcing students to get vouchers in order to transfer."
False. Students aren't forced to get vouchers.

"His third objection is that the state paying for education is fine. However this is based on his definition which he never clarified, so the attack is nullified."
The state has always paid for most all education. It always should. A definition of school vouchers cannot change this.

"To my second contention. He says the state never gets the power to choose. However this ignores the fact that students do not receive a voucher then they cannot leave the public school. The state does have the choice, so the attack is nullified."
Students can leave public school without a voucher. They'd just have to pay for it by themselves. Furthermore, the state does not choose which private school a student goes to with a voucher. They just decide whether or not the student should get a voucher. Religion is not part of this criterion.

"He says that states do not discriminate between religions. However that misses the point: if we say school vouchers are constitutional then that discrimination could very likely happen. In a context of a voucher the state has to choose whether or not a student will be allowed to transfer to a private school."
I have a gun. I could very well shoot you. Should I be unable to have a gun because of this? No. I should get a chance to prove that I can use a gun responsibly. So, don't make accusations about what someone could do until they actually do it.

"Finally he says that under a voucher program they do have the freedom to choose. But this is again working under his definition of voucher, which as I have said we should not accept."
Your definition, from Wikipedia, says, "[P]arents can pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice."
What were you saying about being unable to choose, again?

"He then says that I argue that vouchers increase constitutionality, however this is misunderstood. I was attacking the system of vouchers that would required a student to get a voucher from the state before they can leave a public school."
You are attacking a system, therefore, that isn't there. Therefore, your point is irrelevant.

"I was not arguing that the separation of church and state was unconstitutional, but that the voucher program interferes with ability of parents to pull their children out of the secularized environment."
The voucher program only increases a parent's options, allowing them a way to get to a religious school even if they are unable to pay. Without the voucher program, they'd have to go to public school.

"He says there's still church but that is beside the point."
Oh? Why?

"The point is that the secularized environment in the school still suppresses religion, the church has no impact on the school."
Public school does not suppress religion. It just doesn't advocate any religions. It's not Christian. It's not atheist. It's whatever you want it to be. Students are allowed to practice their religion in public schools, as long as they don't break the school rules or the law.

"But the point still stands: that requiring students to get vouchers to transfer to a private or religious school violates the separation because it interferes with the students ability to choose a religious school."
So, if the government ever decides to change their voucher system into the way that you interpret it, then you have the right to argue. Until this happens, all of your contentions are irrelevant.

"But he never gives you any reason why we should interpret strictly on the text of the Constitution, so this is no reason to negate."
Maybe it's because of the word in the resolution, "unconstitutional."
Unconstitutional - not according or consistent with the constitution of a body politic (as a nation) (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
So, a lack of separation of church and state can only be unconstitutional if separation of church and state is advocated by the Constitution, which it's not.

"This establishes that there is separation of church and state under the Constitution and the voucher system is unconstitutional."
The government is not trying to set up a church. The government is not passing laws that aid religion, or discriminate based on religion. Therefore, your Supreme Court case is entirely irrelevant.

"However, as I've shown, I did not refer to the lack of vouchers but to the system of vouchers as a whole."
Again, this system is not what my opponent thinks it is.

"He says that the system would be applied equally and that students could get money for secular or religious institution. However this violates the separation as established by the Supreme court because it aids religions."
It does not aid religions. It simply allows kids to go to a private school. A student can go to a secular private school, or a student can go to a religious private school. Discriminating for atheist schools would be unconstitutional. Discriminating for religious schools would be unconstitutional. Discriminating against nobody is NOT unconstitutional. The word "religion" does not make something unconstitutional.
If the government decides to hand out cars to people to stimulate the economy, and I drive my car to church, did I just violate the separation of church and state? No. That would be ridiculous.

"My opponent perceives vouchers as the state paying for a transfer from public to private school. He says that the system would be applied equally and that students could get money for secular or religious institution."
True.

"However this violates the separation as established by the Supreme court because it aids religions."
However, religion is being aided indirectly, and is being aided as much as any other school. So, the religion is irrelevant, and this "separation" is upheld. See above point about cars.

"So even if you accept my opponents definition of voucher then you are going to affirm because even that is unconstitutional."
And yet, it's not. See above debate.

"I've effectively refuted my opponents important attacks and proven that the voucher system is unconstitutional under the separation of church and state (which is in the constitution)."
My opponent has misperceived the definition of school vouchers, and thus, his entire argument is flawed. For this reason, in addition to all of my arguments, it is obvious that school vouchers are entirely within the boundaries of the United States Constriction.

Thank you.
Cavil

Pro

I'll accept that I have made a mistake about the definition of a voucher and we are going to work with my opponent's original definition. You will disregard statements under my previous definition and we're going to focus now on the bottom of the two last posts.

He completely misunderstands when I ask why we should interpret strictly based on the text of the constitution. What I was implying was that we cannot interpret the constitution strictly by the text. We can be consistent with the constitution but we cannot necessarily go strictly by the text. The text can imply other things but my opponent never gives you any reason to interpret strictly based on the text. But to settle this dispute I brought forward a ruling from the Supreme Court. My never refuted how the Supreme Court holds the authoritative ruling on what the constitution means.
He says the ruling is irrelevant because the state is not trying to establish a church. But this misses the entire point of the the ruling. I'll quote it again:
"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another."
Take special note that the government cannot pass laws that aid one religion or all religions. So even if the state is not establishing a state church, aiding religious institutions constitutes a violation.

Now, he says that it does not aid religions because it simply targets private schools. However if you target private schools are you not aiding them by giving them government money for a student's education? And if you give it to a religious institution it aids them.
He says that if we do not offer vouchers to religious schools then we would be discriminating against them and in favor of secular schools. He says this would be unconstitutional but gives no arguments why. Yes, the court ruling does prohibit favoring one religion over another but atheism is not a religion. If it was then every private school would be regarded as a religious school but they are not. Therefore we can discriminate in favor of secular schools. However, if you accept this you are going to vote pro because all school voucher would be aiding religion.
But furthermore, the point is not to avoid discrimination between secular and religious, the point is to ensure the separation of church and state. The state cannot aid a religious institution.
But finally this does not even consider the fact that we could not give vouchers out at all. If there are no vouchers then there is no discrimination. So my opponent is only circumstantially negating.

He uses a car metaphor.
But this ignores the fact that the money from the voucher is going directly into a religious institution, to fund it. When the government buys you a car, their money is not going into a religious institution but a secular item. You may use that item to go to church the same way you may use the education from a religious school to get a job but those are indirect effects. The direct effects are that the government is paying for a religious school or a car. So vouchers do directly aid religious schools.

He says it simply targets private schools. But go back to something my opponent said:
"if you're going to use government money, the government has to approve of what you're going to do with the money."
So if the government gives a student a voucher then they have to approve what you are going to do with it. If the state gives you money for a car, then they have to approve which car you get. So for every school voucher the government is going to approve the school. At this point the state is not simply choosing every private school but has to specifically approve each one. So the government is directly choosing to approve religious schools. So it does violate the separation of church and state.

Finally we are going to look at why you will vote pro:
1: We have established that the Supreme Court has the authoritative interpretation of the constitution. My opponent has never refuted this.
2: The court ruled that any law that would aid religion would be unconstitutional, although my opponent and I have agreed that it must be direct aid.
3: Discrimination against religious schools and in favor of secular schools is perfectly constitutional. My opponent never brings any argument to the contrary
4: School vouchers are direct aid for religious schools, because the government is paying them to educate a student. The same way that the government would directly pay for a car. This violates the separation of church and state.
5: Every private or religious school has to be approved by the state, at which point if the state approved vouchers for religious schools it would be specifically choosing those schools. This violates the separation of church and state.

Thank You.
Debate Round No. 3
mongeese

Con

"Now, he says that it does not aid religions because it simply targets private schools. However if you target private schools are you not aiding them by giving them government money for a student's education? And if you give it to a religious institution it aids them."
The government gives the voucher to the student. The student then uses the voucher at a religious school. This is not direct, but indirect.

My opponent then proceeds to talk about how school vouchers could still discriminate against religious schools. However, I don't really have to attack anything until this next quote:

"But this ignores the fact that the money from the voucher is going directly into a religious institution, to fund it. When the government buys you a car, their money is not going into a religious institution but a secular item. You may use that item to go to church the same way you may use the education from a religious school to get a job but those are indirect effects. The direct effects are that the government is paying for a religious school or a car. So vouchers do directly aid religious schools."

Wrong. This is not direct aid. When the government gives you a voucher, the money is not going into a religious institution but your own bank account. You may use that money to go to a religious private school in the same way you may use the car to drive to church. Both of these are indirect effects.
Government -> Your Voucher -> Religious School -> Education in Profession and Religion
Government -> Your Car -> Church -> Education in Religion
See? They're the same. They're both indirect. Thus, it is not in violation of the Supreme Court ruling, which my opponent agreed only applies to direct effects.

"So if the government gives a student a voucher then they have to approve what you are going to do with it. If the state gives you money for a car, then they have to approve which car you get. So for every school voucher the government is going to approve the school. At this point the state is not simply choosing every private school but has to specifically approve each one. So the government is directly choosing to approve religious schools. So it does violate the separation of church and state."
If the government gives a person a car, then they have to approve of where they drive. They do this through traffic laws. If a policeman stops a man on the road and asks, "Where are you headed?", and the man answers, "Church," and the policeman says, "Okay, you can go," would that be unconstitutional? No, because that would be ridiculous.
If the government gives a person a voucher, then they have to approve of where they spend the money. They do this through approval/disapproval. If the government stops a kid with the voucher and asks, "Where are you going to spend that money?", and the kid answers, "Christian Academy," and the government says, "Okay, you can go," would that be unconstitutional? No, for the same reason.
Again, the two situations are the same. The government does not choose for a person to drive to church, but they approve of his doing so. The government does not choose for a kid to go to a religious school, but they approve of his doing so.
Essentially, they are both the same situation, and they are both indirect, and they do not violate the Supreme Court ruling.

"1: We have established that the Supreme Court has the authoritative interpretation of the constitution. My opponent has never refuted this."
True.

"2: The court ruled that any law that would aid religion would be unconstitutional, although my opponent and I have agreed that it must be direct aid."
True.

"3: Discrimination against religious schools and in favor of secular schools is perfectly constitutional. My opponent never brings any argument to the contrary"
Fine, then. That argument didn't have any effect on the resolution, anyways.

"4: School vouchers are direct aid for religious schools, because the government is paying them to educate a student. The same way that the government would directly pay for a car. This violates the separation of church and state."
Wrong. The government pays for the voucher in the same way that they pay for the car. However, the government indirectly pays for school in the same way that they indirectly pay for church. This is indirect, and not direct. This does not violate the Supreme Court ruling, and therefore does not violate the separation of church and state.

"5: Every private or religious school has to be approved by the state, at which point if the state approved vouchers for religious schools it would be specifically choosing those schools. This violates the separation of church and state."
My opponent mixes up choosing with approving. See the policeman example.

Therefore, there is no more reason for school vouchers to be unconstitutional. The resolution is negated. And that is why you should vote CON.

Thank you.
Cavil

Pro

I'll run over my opponents two major attacks then I'll go back to why you will vote pro.

He says that the money from the voucher goes into your bank account, but would that not imply that it was your money? But it is not, it is the government's. Why would they put their money into your bank account when they can just as easily pay it directly to the school?

We both agree that the government paying for your car is direct. A voucher is nothing more than a payment. Even if it comes into your hands it is still the government's money, and they gave it to you with a requirement to use it at a school. If your mom gives you money to walk up to the store and buy milk, then your mom is paying for the milk, not you. This is because their still controlling the money. This is direct because the money never leaves the government's (or your mom's) possession. If it ever did leave their possession then you could do whatever you wanted with it, you would not be restricted to spending the money on school or milk. So at that point a voucher is direct aid because it is a payment of the government's money to the school just like the government paying for your car would be direct.

I explain that the government has to approve what your going to do with it's money. My opponent does not really refute but says it does not matter because the government approves everything. He says they do it through not stopping you from doing things. However my opponent confuses approve with allow. If the government allows you to go to church then their not approving of it. If that were the case then they would also have to approve of atheists not going to church. But they do not, they simply let it happen. I may not approve of muslims going to mosques but I would not stop them and neither would the government, even though it could. My opponent said that if the government does not stop you they approve of what you do, but this wrong they simply allow it.

Going to my voting issues:
4: "The government pays for the voucher in the same way that they pay for the car. However, the government indirectly pays for school in the same way that they indirectly pay for church."
Wrong. The voucher is a payment in and of itself because government maintains control and possession over the money. The payment is going directly into a religious school because it never leaves the government's hands.

5: My opponent says I mix up choosing with approving. Well he mixes up approving with allowing. My opponent's definition of approve is flawed so you are going to drop his attack.
Approving means saying that "that's good." At the point when the government approves a voucher they are looking at a payment to a school and saying "that's good." So if it's a religious school they are saying that the payment is good. So by approving a payment to a religious school the state violates the separation of church and state.
But the point still applies: the government has to choose what to do with it's money (otherwise it would not use the money). If they give it to a student for a religious school then it is choosing to pay that school which violates the separation of church and state.

In conclusion: my opponent's attacks fall and we are force to accept that school voucher is a direct payment to a religious school because it is the government's money. You also have to accept that the government approving (or choosing) this payment. For these reasons your going to vote pro.

I thank my opponent for a fine round.
Debate Round No. 4
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
My sardonic-meter must be broken :D Sorry, WJ.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
I was kidding, alto2osu.

It is silly that Supreme Court Justices can pretty much rewrite the constitution with a 5-4 vote.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
That's not legally or literally true at all. The Supreme Court, on a number of occasions, has overstepped its bounds and "loosely interpreted" the Constitution. In essence, their precedent actually created new "laws," or at least precedent for other courts to rule in the same fashion. If you like, I can list several cases that have incredibly tenuous connections to the original document. There's a reason that the term "judicial activism" exists.

Mind you, that doesn't make the separation of church and state an illegit concept in and of itself. In fact, I'm a fan of the idea. However, the separation of church and state is not explicitly in the Constitution. If it is, I encourage you to find the clause, please.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
"the "seperation of church and state" is not expressed in the Constitution."

It was written in by the Supreme Court. Therefore, it is in the Constitution.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Not absolutely sure what prompted the smug response to my comments about judicial activism, but the separation of church and state was, in fact, translated to federal and state laws via judicial activism. Allow me to define, so that my comrades on the website can trust in my knowledge of the subject:

Judicial activism is the legislating of policy via court outside of the realm of document interpretation. For example, when the US Supreme Court found that religious instruction in public schools was unconstitutional in McCollum vs. Board of Education, they were doing so based on an incredibly loose interpretation of the first amendment (specifically, the establishment clause regarding religious freedom).

While the concept existed prior to this 1948 case, and even before Thomas Jefferson (it's not like he invented the concept, either), the Supreme Court is what established the separation in any sort of formal legal sense in the US.

So, next time, please be a little nicer when you respond, because you could be talking to someone who actually has half a brain.

PS- I'm a girl.
Posted by MrMarkP37 8 years ago
MrMarkP37
One thing that I found interesting; I didn't see it brought up in the debate that the "seperation of church and state" is not expressed in the Constitution. I see that Alto down there mentioned it, but he incorrectly attributed it to "judical activism" not sure what he's talking about, unless he's under the assumption that Thomas Jefferson was a judge and that his letter to the Baptists that contained that phrase was judicial activism. Or, perhaps, he just wanted to use a political buzzword that he doesn't understand to describe the orgins of a phrase that he doesn't understand.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Then, we'll have to agree to disagree. Both pathos and ethos are incredibly strong persuasive tools, and those hard to replicate if you go into it announcing that you are not committed ideologically to your arguments. It isn't just the arguments that you provide. Especially in a medium such as this, where we can't read your body language or hear your tone, you have a wonderful opportunity to simply persuade, without conditions, caveats, or excuses.
Posted by Cavil 8 years ago
Cavil
Hey, arguments are arguments; they're strong or they're not. Personal knowledge shouldn't have any impact.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Meh- I think that the sign of the best sort of debater is one who can take on arguments that he/she doesn't believe in without people knowing that he/she has done it. The disclaimer automatically makes your arguments weaker.

But, good luck all the same :)
Posted by Cavil 8 years ago
Cavil
Just for the record I don't actually believe in everything I'm arguing here. I've done competitive debate and I get a thrill just from debating any side.
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