The Instigator
Dignitas
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
BennyW
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Civil War South did not have the legal right to secede from the Union.

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 2 votes the winner is...
Dignitas
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/5/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 26,817 times Debate No: 27827
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (16)
Votes (2)

 

Dignitas

Pro

Hi, DDO. First timer here. ;)

Resolution: The South did not have the legal right to secede from the Union and the North did have the legal right to stop them.

I apologize if the 'Politics' category is generally for current political issues, but I was at a loss for a more suitable place to post this under.

Thank you, and best of luck.

BennyW

Con

My opponent is arguing that secession was not legal during the civil war I will argue that it was. I will argue that secession was not only perfectly legal but was in fact very much recognized as a legitimate for reaction to federal tyranny by the founders and early American legal experts. To fully understand this we must go back to the beginning and look at the original intent of the founders when they wrote our founding documents and set up a historical background.

The Constitution nowhere prohibited secession and when the Constitution does not prohibit it, it is allowed by the states; Specifically, under the 10th Amendment. In fact the South was not the first group of states to threaten secession but they were the first and so far only that followed through on the threat. New England made the threat in 1813 in opposition to the War of 1812. [1] Virginia reserved the right to secede from the union as part of the condition for joining in the first place, a right that was maintained until Lincoln, and one which technically could still be in effect. New York and Rhode Island had similar provisions. [2] It was not all about slavery and in fact William Lloyd Garrison, a leading abolitionist, pushed the idea of secession as he thought Northern secession would destroy Southern slavery. Among the names of those who supported the idea of secession were Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Alexis de Tocqueville. [3] Certain other states ceded from their original state though not from the Union, such as West Virginia(formerly part of Virginia) and Maine (formerly part of Massachusetts).

During the civil Lincoln’s number one stated goal was to “keep the Union together”. In other words he wanted to violate the state’s rights to leave when they wanted to and voluntarily sever their relationship with US Federal Government. By Lincoln declaring war, it set a precedent for the Federal Government to forcibly coerce states to stay, something that had no place in the original interpretation of the Constitution. Even now there are still active secessionist movements particularly in Texas.

In response to the current secessionist petitioning going on (which by the way wouldn’t have much legal force as they are not an official declaration but not because there is no legal basis for secession) and reiterating what he has said earlier following Rick Perry’s comments on the subject, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has said that secession is a very American principal, however he is a contemporary example and not a primary source. [4] However the principal he cites is the very basis on which America was founded. The colonies seceded from Britain do that mentality has always been at the core of the American identity.

I will pass it back to my opponent and await his response.

1 http://teachingamericanhistory.org...
2 http://www.columbiatribune.com...
3 Woods, Thomas Politically Incorrect Guide to American History p. 62-64
4 http://www.usnews.com...

Debate Round No. 1
Dignitas

Pro

Thank you, BennyW, for accepting my debate.

--

I would like to begin by first addressing my opponent's arguments by building my own.

My opponent argues that the Constitution does not prohibit secession, and by the 10th Amendment, thus allows secession. However, he does not proceed to elaborate specifically how the 10th guarantees a legal right to secession.

The Tenth Amendment, as 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. [1]

However, the purpose of the Constitution pursues a "perpetual, more perfect Union," no mere alliance or voluntary pact among sovereign states. As Owens writes, "The States "retained all the power they did not grant. But each State, having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other States, a single nation, can not, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation." " [2] The concept of unilateral secession contradicts the very concept of Federalism and the balance of powers inherent to the Founders' intentions and the nature of this country.

Indeed, the Constitution never explicitly reserves the right of secession, as it logically shouldn't. As James Madison said, "It must not be forgotten, that compact, express or implied is the vital principle of free Governments as contradistinguished from Governments not free; and that a revolt against this principle leaves no choice but between anarchy and despotism." [3] Sanctifying the right for individual, unilateral secession of states either in letter or in spirit defeats the very purpose of the Constitution and reduces the bonds holding the nation together to "ropes of sand." Reserving the right of secession indefinitely also reduces the federal government and all other states in the union to pointlessness as their wishes can be arbitrarily defied at a whim with threats of secession.

Abraham Lincoln asserts, "No state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union. They can only do so against law, and by revolution." Lincoln's belief was that the very core of a civilized democracy was the principle of majority rule. He and other opponents of secession reasoned that it was unacceptable because no democracy could function if sections of the country were to simply leave the Union at will. Such behavior would lead ultimately to anarchy. [8]

In McCulloch v Maryland, Chief Justice Marshall refuted the argument that states retain ultimate sovereignty because they ratified the constitution. Marshall contended that it was the people who ratified the Constitution and thus the people are sovereign, not the states. [4] Similarly, in Texas v White, the Court held that "the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, wereabsolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law." [5]

Time and time again, it has been proven that the states do not have a legal right to secession. The Constitution and historic court cases provide substantial grounds to support this. My opponent points to the Constitution, but the Tenth Amendment fails to hold; there are no positive, legal allowances for secession anywhere to speak of.

My opponent also claims that Lincoln's stated goal was to "keep the Union together," which was actually keeping with the spirit of the Constitution and the preservation of the Union, together in the best interests of the nation as a whole. Lincoln did not violate state's rights as my opponent asserts—secession, as shown above, is not a feasible states' right—nor was Lincoln in the wrong in declaring war—Confederate forces demanded Fort Sumter to surrender before provocatively attacking on April 11th, 1861, an overt act of war. [6] The supremacy clause (Article VI, Paragraph 2) stated: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." Furthermore, the guarantee clause (Article IV, Section 4) stated: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Lincoln referred to that clause to justify the Northern invasion of the South in an attempt to prevent secession. "[I]f a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so, it may also discard the republican form of government; so that to prevent its going out, is an indispensable means, to the end, of maintaining the guaranty mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to it, are also lawful, and obligatory," he said. [8] Clearly, the federal government was well within its means in preserving the union at any and all costs.

Finally, my opponent claims that the mentality of secession resides at "the core of the American identity." Unfortunately, the American Revolutionary War does not represent a precedent for state secession. The colonies essentially claimed a Lockean right of revolution against an 'oppressive' government in which they had no direct representation. Their moral justification in forcibly separating from Great Britain certainly does not equivocate to legal right to unilateral secession on the part of equal and fairly represented states of the US.


The evidence is irrefutable, the arguments irresistible. Thus, I strongly urge a PRO vote.

--

References:

1. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com...

2. http://www.claremont.org...

3. http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu...

4. Chemerinsky, Erwin (2006). Constitutional Law Principles and Policies (3rd ed.). New York: Aspen Publishers.

5. http://www.law.cornell.edu...

6. http://www.civilwar.org...

7. http://en.wikipedia.org...

8. http://www.philwrites.com...

BennyW

Con

I thank my opponent for his arguments last round and will address his major points. First, I bring up the 10th Amendment because it shows that if the Constitution doesn’t prohibit it, the states are allowed. Since secession is not mentioned in the Constitution it is therefore not prohibited and therefore allowed. I will restate the 10th amendment and emphasize the key words. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, arereserved to the States respectively, or to the people. As I pointed out last round there was a precedent for the idea of secession, sure there were dissenters from the idea but that is to be expected with any major issue however my opponent failed to mention even one. The right of secession had always been held up until that point. The constitution was meant to be short and direct, for the purpose of showing the limits of the Federal Government’s power.

Secession can also be linked to the idea of State Nullification which has been proclaimed legal by many of the founders. While less extreme than secession, Nullification also shows the States right to descent from the Federal Government. [1] In fact Nullification was used to oppose slavery more often than it was to support it. We could look at the Kentucky resolution and the States’ response to the alien and Sedition Acts of 1898. [2]

My opponent brings up an interesting point when he says “Reserving the right of secession indefinitely also reduces the federal government and all other states in the union to pointlessness as their wishes can be arbitrarily defied at a whim with threats of secession.” He s correct that it does reduce the federal government, which was the point of the Bill of rights and the condition on which the anti-Federalists agreed to sign the new Constitution. My opponent has not shown how a state such as Virginia which expressly signed on under the agreement that they retain the right to secede, should be forced to stay as forcing them to stay is a clear volition of their 10th amendment rights.

We could also look the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, while not a binding document in the same way as the constitution it gives us an idea of the intention. It states “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government”. This seems to clearly imply an intended right to secession. [3]

My opponent cites several Supreme Court cases. We must remember that the sole purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution. However they quite often step beyond the bounds of their job and inject their own bias into their ruling. So while useful we cannot rely solely on Supreme Court rulings.

Even if by the Constitution’s silence on the issue we could infer that it took no issue on it, then the best my opponent could do is say that the issue is ambiguous and we cannot prove that the Constitution prohibits it. Lincoln himself, before he ran for president actually affirmed the states’ right to secession; he only changed his view during the war or political reasons. This source states it well when it says:

There had to be a specific constitutional prohibition on secession for it to be illegal. Conversely, there did not have to be a specific constitutional affirmation of the right of secession for it to be legal. [4]

[5]

As I have shown the right to secession originates from the founders of the country. My opponent has failed to show the substantial difference between the Revolution mentality that founded this country and the secessionist mentality. He asserts it but does not explain why. With that, I pass it back to my opponent.

1 http://tenthamendmentcenter.com...
2 Woods, Thomas E.. Nullification: how to resist Federal tyranny in the 21st century. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Pub. ;, 2010. P. 46
3http://www.lewrockwell.com...
4 http://www.bonniebluepublishing.com...
5. http://www.etymonline.com...

Debate Round No. 2
Dignitas

Pro

I thank my opponent for a vigorous rebuttal, and will now proceed to dissect his arguments.

--

1. The 10th Amendment

My opponent heavily emphasizes the 10th Amendment's supposed power to mysteriously grant unconditional powers of unilateral secession indefinitely to the states or the people. Despite the fact that I clearly pointed to the Constitution in Article VI, Paragraph 2 and Article IV, Section 4 in the previous round, my opponent declares that "the Constitution doesn't prohibit it."

Not so. The mere fact that secession is not explicitly mentioned does not indicate its validity. Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution reads, "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation..." [1a], clearly prohibiting, for example, Kentucky or Missouri joining the CSA. My opponent mistakenly claims that I "failed to mention even one" example of a dissenter of secession (e.g. Madison, Lincoln)—an irrelevant point, anyway, regarding the legality of secession.

On the other hand, my opponent has completely dropped my earlier arguments concerning (a) the Union preceding the states, (b) Article VI, Paragraph 2 and Article IV, Section 4 as it relates to maintaining the Union, and (c) the power of the spirit of the law superseding that of the letter of the law, in that the Constitution, for the purpose of "form[ing] a more perfect Union," [1a] cannot logically endorse its own arbitrary, unconditional destruction.

These arguments must be addressed, and thus far overwhelmingly favor Pro.


2. State Nullification and Reduction of Federal Power

My opponent poses nullification, beginning with an uncited and unspecified claim that it "has been proclaimed legal by many of the Founders." This cannot hold water without further support.

And indeed, states do have the "right to dissent" (edited from "descent") from the federal government, but that certainly does not imply a right to secession. Again, he mentions an irrelevant point about slavery, and merely mentions the "Kentucky Resolution" and "the States' response to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1898" without explaining how it pertains to the legality of secession. Thus far, there is no reason his arguments have any traction.

In his third paragraph, my opponent now also concedes that the right of secession defeats the purpose of federal government before qualifying that the express purpose of the Bill of Rights was to indeed reduce the same government in question. By admitting such, my opponent has not only allowed that secession is a certifiably detrimental policy, but contrived the Bill of Rights not as a guarantee of American freedom and civil rights, but a 'get out of the Union free' pass without substantial evidence.

My opponent (without citation) brings up the state ratification conventions, during which Virginia attempted to reserve a later right to secede from the Union. I point to Texas v. White, in which Chief Justice Chase writes, "The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation... When Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States" [2a]. That which holds for Texas does so for Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, or any other state. Unilateral secession is null and void. Period.

Finally, it should be noted that my opponent fails to acknowledge another of my arguments, i.e. that the unconditional, unilateral secession that Con defends ultimately leads to anarchy, as expressed by Lincoln.


3. Declaration of Independence

Fortunately, my opponent himself concedes that the Declaration is "not a binding document." Merely pointing out Thomas Jefferson's rhetoric also does not prove a potent argument for the legality of secession. On the other hand, if semantics are to offer any hints to the legality of secession, the opening Preamble to the Constitution goes, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..." [3a] Certainly, at least in terms of how legally "binding" a document is, the Constitution's rhetoric supersedes the Declaration, and indicates that the union precedes that of the states legally and chronologically.

Furthermore, the Declaration states that "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it [government], and to institute new Government." (a) My opponent fails to show how the 1861 Union was "destructive" by any means, and (b) is incorrect in declaring that the Declaration implies an "intended right to secession." Jefferson refers to Locke's political philosophy from the Second Treatise on Government [3b] in terms of the moral right to revolution, and not necessarily to unilateral secession, certainly not explicitly, implicitly, or otherwise.

Pro clearly wins this argument.


4. Supreme Court is Biased

No, it's not. My opponent disregards the Supreme Court, making an unsubstantiated claim that it stepped beyond its bounds (how?) and that it "injected bias" in its ruling (again, how?). He goes on to promptly dismiss the Court as merely "useful," and again simply asserts that "we cannot rely solely on Supreme Court rulings."

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The Constitution of the United States clearly establishes the Supreme Court, as its name would suggest, with ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all courts concerning federal issues [5a]. With the power of judicial review and origins clearly tied to the very core of the Constitution, the Court has the final say in matters of legality and Constitutionality.

My opponent not only incorrectly dismisses that my argument "rel[ies] solely on Supreme Court rulings," self-evident to the contrary from Round 2, but he has completely fumbled in addressing my court case examples of Texas v. White and McCulloch v. Maryland and entirely fails to provide evidence of the unreliability of the Supreme Court.

My original argument still stands and alone refutes the entire Con contention.


5. The Constitution is Silent

Refer to above arguments.

My opponent also tosses an irrelevant, unconnected, and uncited statement concerning Lincoln's views on state secession, and goes on to claim without explanation that the Constitution must explicitly prohibit secession in order to support Pro, in effect attempting to push the burden of proof to the Pro.

Without additional evidence, Con cannot win this argument, and thus Pro should.


6. Revolutionary Mentality

I do show why the right of secession is not a direct descendant of the "Revolution mentality" that founded the United States; by the same token, my opponent accuses I haven't shown the difference but himself never has.

To reiterate and expand: The colonies of Great Britain in North America were not equal partners within the British empire or contracting agents agreeing to a contract. Their legal existence came from the crown; they did not form it as a founding party or join it as an independent state [6a]. The revolutionaries grounded their argument on a natural right to revolution (Locke), not a legal right to secession.

--

As I have repeatedly demonstrated, the South did not have the legal right to secede from the Union, and thus I urge a PRO vote.


--
References:

1a. http://www.archives.gov...

1b. http://www.constitution.org...

2a. https://supreme.justia.com...

3a. http://www.archives.gov...

3b. Becker, Carl. The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas. 1922. Page 27.

4a. http://www.supremecourt.gov...

6a. Osgood, Herbert Levi. The American colonies in the seventeenth century, (3 vol 1904-07).

BennyW

Con

As agreed upon, this will be my last round of debates.

My opponent claims “the Union preceding the states”
However, The Union did not precede the States, the Union only has power because of the states. In fact making a claim such as that made by my opponent is Historically ignorant. Since the colonies first formed they were separate from each other. Then even when they formed into states they still were considered separate but united for a common cause, they even had separate militia. The federal government was only formed when the states got together and decided they needed a small central power to deal with interstate issues but the states retained the majority of the power. My opponent brings up Article VI, Paragraph 2 and Article IV, Section 4 as examples of where the power comes from the Federal Government as opposed to the states. Let’s take a look at them. Article IV Section 4 just states that the federal Government has the right to provide protection to the states, but nowhere does it say that this power originates in the Federal Government. Article VI Paragraph 2 states that elected representatives are bound to support the Constitution and that no religious test should be required for office, again no mention of this power originating from the states. I must point out the distinction between the duty of the Federal government and something originating from the federal Government. If anything it shows how said elected officials would be obligated to oppose any Unconstitutional laws the Federal Government tries to force on them.

In his argument against the legality of secession, he quotes Article I, Section 10 which does states that the States cannot form a Confederation. However that was not the premise of the debate, it was if the states had a right to secede not if they had a right to join a Confederation and I repeat, this section says nothing about secession. Now, since the states seceded they were free to write a new Constitution, one that established a Confederation. It is true my opponent mentioned Madison and Lincoln as dissenters from the idea, however, Lincoln came later and as I mentioned, he actually supported secession before he opposed it. He states in 1848 “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.”. It seems he flip flopped on this issue. [1] Madison did dissent, but much of his dissent was moderated.

Jefferson's for one called Nullification the “rightful remedy” and even referred to the states as “sovereign and independent”. That is a pretty strong statement and one that is hard to ignore if you argue that the Federal government is the source of the states’ power. [2]

My mention of the Kentucky resolution and the response to the Alien and sedition acts are relevant because they point to early talks about nullification and it even resulted in a cal for secession by Jefferson. [3]

I am not entirely sure what my opponent is getting at in response to my third paragraph. My concession of his point was that the Bill of rights were meant to limit Federal government and were the only way the ant-federalists would sign.

George Mason of Virginia believed that secession was a process in the same way as joining the union in the first place was and so he pushed for it to be allowed [4]

Lincoln’s claim of it being anarchy was a misrepresentation of the term as each state would still maintain their own government.

When it comes to “more perfect Union” we cannot just assume that means a National government superseding the states. We must look at what was intended by those words. My opponent also again claims this shows how the Federal government supersedes the States, and I have already proved why that is incorrect, particularly “chronologically”. Besides if my opponent going to make that argument then he must admit that people precede Union.

My opponent wonders what I meant in saying that the Supreme Court is Biased

In claiming this, it was not my intention to completely deny the validity of the court, it is certainly true that the Court has the final say in matters of legality and Constitutionality. However we must also consider cases of judicial activism Would my opponent consider Dred Scott a fair ruling? If so how does the court justify later cases that counter that ruling? Or how Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education. The court often counters former rulings, proving that they are not an infallible arbiter. The Supreme court is only meant to deal with things at the Federal level and not the State level. Every time they decide a state issue they have exceeded their own. This also relates back to my point about bringing up Nullification. Every time the Supreme court rules on a case outside their jurisdiction the states are duty bound to Nullify it. If it infringes on their sovereignty as state to a point that they would be better off seceding, then they should. I now need to prove why the two cases my opponent brought up are instances of judicial activism.

McCulloch v. Maryland That was a case that started the trend of a more progressive interpretation of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson even accused Chief justice John Marshall of Judicial activism. Up until that point the Necessary and Proper clause had been only applied to those powers already explicitly delegated. Texas v. White is not really applicable anyway as it was decided after the end of the Civil war and a decision cannot be retroactive and my opponent’s resolution was specifically about the Civil war.

The South felt violated because the North was demonizing them and issuing tariffs against them (sort of like those issued against the colonies by Britain). They were oppressed and therefore they had the Revolutionary mentality. [5]

I thank my opponent and I await his closing rebuttal.

1 http://www.brainyquote.com...
2 http://www.finestquotes.com...
3 http://muse.jhu.edu...
4 http://muse.jhu.edu...
5 http://www.capitalisminstitute.org...

Debate Round No. 3
Dignitas

Pro

Limited in character space, I would like to defend against my opponent’s most direct attacks before proceeding to finalize my argument.

"The Union did not precede the States, the Union only has power because of the states."
Chronologically? Yes. Legally and politically? No. An argument that States historically ”precede” the Union implies that States formed after the Union was—the other 37 states—are then distinctly inferior or derived, contrary to the explicit equality of states established in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 [1]. Historically 'preceding' the Union neither automatically grants unconditional rights to tear it apart nor does it prove its arbitrary nature in binding the states. The Union not only derives its power from the states, but indisputably the people as well. Certainly, as Lincoln famously said, "if the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it--break it, so to speak--but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?" [2]

"Article IV Section 4... but nowhere does it say that this power originates in the Federal Government. Article VI Paragraph 2 states that... no religious test should be required for office, again no mention of this power originating from the states." [sic]
My opponent does me injustice: Article IV, Sec. 4 reads, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..." [3] The best interests of the nation as a whole require the residents of each state to cede away a portion of their political sovereignty to the nation: the ability to choose any form of state government that they desire. It implies that Lincoln was correct when he declared that the southern states had no right to secede from the Union. While the text of the Constitution is silent on the right of secession, Article IV is an example of an overall constitutional structure that denies state residents the power to exercise political sovereignty within their own borders in a way that threatens national unity as a whole [4]. Indeed, the federal government does not derive its powers from itself, but from the Constitution and the people--the clearly extant power, regardless of its origin, to maintain the union.

"... it [premise of debate] was if the states had a right to secede not if they had a right to join a Confederation" [sic].
The second part of the resolution concerns the North's right to stop them from seceding. Kentucky and Missouri did not legally secede.

"... Since the states seceded they were free to write a new Constitution"
I have shown above that they did not legally secede.

"He [Lincoln] states in 1848 'Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.'"
Lincoln is not invoking a constitutional right to destroy the Union, but, again, the natural right of revolution, an inalienable right clearly expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln never denied this right. As he said in his First Inaugural of 1861. "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." But the people's right to revolution is in tension with the president's constitutional "duty" to administer the present government, as it came into his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor [5].

"Jefferson's for one called Nullification the “rightful remedy” and even referred to the states as 'sovereign and independent'... (see rest above)" [sic]
Nullification is not equivalent to secession but for the same reasons (above) is equally invalid. My opponent's Jefferson quote is taken out of context and does not accurately reflect Jefferson's sentiments. (See his references.) Dropped or not, Bill of Rights, regardless, hasn't been shown to guarantee legal right of secession. George Mason of VA: Art IV, Sec. 3 explicitly gives for process for admission of new states, but the Constitution never once mentions one for 'secession' [3].

"... we cannot just assume that means a National government superseding the states... I have already proved why that is incorrect, particularly "chronologically”. Besides if my opponent going to make that argument then he must admit that people precede Union." [sic]
Addressed later. This defense also relies on his chronological argument; I have already addressed it. And the people most certainly do precede the Union--they are the basis of this country, after all. This only serves to promote my argument.

"We must also consider cases of judicial activism..."
Certainly the Court is subject to human fallacy, but moral and legal values change over time, as does the law to conform it. Not to advocate unfair historic rulings, but my opponent's examples also show that Supreme Court rulings must be enforced as law until later repealed in respect to its legal authority. Regardless of 'judicial activism' or context, the legal consequences of the cases still stand at the time, just as those for Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson did. My opponent again brushes off Texas v. White, this time as retroactive. The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, but does not change it. The only Constitutional amendments between the War and the Texas decision was the 14th, irrelevant to our debate. As a court ruling and not as legislature, the opinion and decision can apply retroactively, as my opponent has implied in later overturns for Dred Scott and Plessy. As for overstepping its bounds: secession is undeniably a national issue, its effects reaching farther than individual states. The Court, already established in earlier rounds, has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all courts in federal matters, states' included.

My opponent has completely side-stepped a huge issue. Advocating unilateral secession, my opponent hasn't proved that the Constitution, the basis of this country, in seeking to form "a more perfect Union," simultaneously reserves each and every state a categorical, unilateral right to secede, in effect subjecting the country's unity and integrity to the whims of faction and minority. This argument has stood the entire debate.

I would also like to point out that my opponent has not definitively shown the states to be sovereign, the only extra-Constitutional legal possibility for secession. However, as Daniel Webster astutely pointed out, "To make war, for instance, is an exercise of sovereignty; but the Constitution declares that no State shall make war. To coin money is another exercise of sovereign power; but no State is at liberty to coin money. Again, the Constitution says that no sovereign State shall be so sovereign as to make a treaty" [6].

Any oversight or character limitations in this debate be forgotten, I strongly urge the audience to carefully consider all aspects of this debate: cogency of arguments, rigor of citation, rhetoric, and neatness of writing included, before duly advocating a PRO vote.

And finally, I extend a warm thanks to my opponent for a thoroughly engaging and challenging debate, and that the best debater may win.

--
References:

1. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com...
2. http://avalon.law.yale.edu...
3. http://www.archives.gov...
4. http://law.marquette.edu...
5. http://www.claremont.org...#
6. http://www.senate.gov...;

BennyW

Con

Per our agreement and so that I don't have an extra round of argument, I am forfeiting this round. note: do not count this as a forfeit or the sake of voting.
Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Dignitas 4 years ago
Dignitas
Thanks to all those who voted, and especially wrichcirw for the compliments.
BennyW, I thank you for the opportunity to debate with you and hope you enjoy the holidays.
Posted by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
On the supreme court, I admit the words I used seemed to imply that the Supreme court was of no use. That was not my intention rather I was disputing the idea that a Supreme Court ruling can never be challenged. if a Supreme court ruling can never be challenged then we don't have effective checks and balances. The States are the check against the federal government.
Posted by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
1) Nullification is irrelevant to secession.
2) Supreme Court cases are law. Going against Supreme Court decisions is thus "illegal". CON had to play by this simple set of rules, and was not able to.
3) DoI: "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government". " This advocates revolution, not secession, as PRO effectively argued.
4) CON: "However they quite often step beyond the bounds of their job and inject their own bias into their ruling. So while useful we cannot rely solely on Supreme Court rulings." Wow. Just wow. Let's please dismiss the concept of checks and balances. Let's please just dismiss the Constitution as having any sort of validity.
5) CON: "In fact making a claim such as that made by my opponent is Historically ignorant." Insult, conduct to PRO.
6) CON: "Would my opponent consider Dred Scott a fair ruling? If so how does the court justify later cases that counter that ruling?" Dred Scott WAS legal, then it was overturned. To my knowledge all the court cases cited by PRO ARE legal.
7) CON: "The South felt violated because the North was demonizing them and issuing tariffs against them (sort of like those issued against the colonies by Britain). They were oppressed and therefore they had the Revolutionary mentality." Perhaps so. They perhaps had the right to revolution, but not the right to secession.

Clear victory to PRO, was evident as early as round #2. Will also give sources and conduct to PRO, well sourced and well-argued by PRO.
Posted by jakamadillo7 4 years ago
jakamadillo7
Hail the confederacy.w
Posted by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
Do you want me to save time and just announce a forfeit and remind the readers of the agreement?
Posted by Dignitas 4 years ago
Dignitas
In my R4, the last link in the REFERENCES for some reason has a ';' added at the end, killing the hyperlink. If you can't get it to work, view it here: http://www.senate.gov...
Posted by Dignitas 4 years ago
Dignitas
Hey, it's been good debating with you.
Posted by Dignitas 4 years ago
Dignitas
Reminder that BennyW must forfeit his R4 in fairness of having equal opportunities for arguments.
Posted by Dignitas 4 years ago
Dignitas
Jeez, calm down, Benny. Report me if you think you get vote-bombed or anything, but that was an accidental post on an account I initially created on an email and user name I do not want to use. There's apparently no option to delete it, either, so it's deactivated.

You'll notice that it has participated in zero debates and has not been verified either, so there's no chance that it will "multi-account" vote or anything.
Posted by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
wait a second, is Cryosonic a multi-account of Dignitas, I better not see him voting on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by bergeneric63 4 years ago
bergeneric63
DignitasBennyWTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Even now only Texas has the right to do so if the time calls for it but leaglly these states were not allowed to good job pro...
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
DignitasBennyWTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: see comment