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United States federal government should substantially decrease its authority

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 502 times Debate No: 54354
Debate Rounds (3)
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1) Many cases involving the standard basis for search 'probable cause' including Cost v. Commonwealth and many more didn't result to a conviction- law enforcers make assumptions and jump into false conclusions.

2) Police officer's hunch or also called 'probable cause' is not enough to legally search someone's car. It is not enough facts or evidence to believe that someone is involved in a criminal activity by smelling any type of drugs or liquor.

C) United States federal government should substantially decrease its authority


1) If many cases involving the standard basis for searches based on probable cause did not result in a conviction then shouldn't the federal government substantially increase its authority instead of decreasing it? In the case you reference, a man got away with committing a criminal act because the probable cause rule was not strict enough to win a conviction.
If criminals are getting away with doing illegal things because the interpretation of probable cause does not get them convicted, then the federal government should increase its authority and amend the Fourth Amendment in a way that does not allow criminals to get away with illegal acts because of the interpretation of probable cause.

2) The sense of smell is one of the possible ways that can help determine probable cause to search for potential evidence of criminal activity, as it says in your own source. Drinking and driving is a crime. The smell of alcohol in a car gives probable cause to search the car because it provides "reasonable basis that a crime may have been committed." This is enough to legally search someone's car however, the legitimacy of the police officer's hunch to legally search someone's car is also reviewed by a court to ensure legality.
The U.S. federal government should not substantially decrease its authority because its authority, in this case based on the U.S. Constitution, is exercised in order to prevent drunk driving road accidents.

3) Some of the effective ways in which the federal government exercises its authority include: the Food and Drug Administration which has the authority to declare the laws for food, drugs and cosmetics ensuring the safety of consumers nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency which has the authority to minimize the use of pollutants within the nation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which has the authority to maintain and fight for fair employment across the nation, the Federal Reserve System which has the authority to regulate banking and the money supply helping prevent inflation and deflation in the nation, the Federal Trade Commission which has the authority to ensure free and fair market competition and protects consumers from being taken advantage of by high profile money making schemes, the National Labor Relations Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which have the authority to maintain safe working conditions and prevent unfair labor practices by unions allowing the nation to not have its labor exploited, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which has the authority to regulate non-military nuclear facilities maintaining the safety of the nation from nuclear exposure and the Securities and Exchange Commission which has the authority to regulate the buying and selling of securities ensuring the nation can safely participate in stock exchanges.

This link shows the major U.S. federal agencies that are crucial to the well being of the nation.

The following link contains a comprehensive list of every federal agency and what each of them does for the nation. The authority of each of these is a reason for the necessity of the federal government. The public strongly underestimates the need for the federal government and what it does for the nation by exercising its authority.

The authority of the federal government helps the nation to function smoothly and properly. Thus, the substantial decrease of the authority of the United States federal government would keep the nation from functioning properly.

C) The United States federal government should not substantially decrease it's authority.
Debate Round No. 1


The United States Constitution is the supreme law that citizens of the United States must follow. In addition, citizens of nation are protected by these laws particularly called the Bill of Rights. As to law enforcers, they need to obey the law before enforcing it. The examples given in my previous round was mainly to show how police officers abuse their authority. They did not come up with a legitimate evidence in order to successfully convict a person because they often rely on their false judgments and assumptions. Not only in the examples I have indicated but also the police are violating citizen's rights in general because they do not know how to properly enforce the law without abusing it. On the other hand, what about those innocent people who were convicted of the crimes they did not do? Should not the United States federal government decrease their power because the system abuses it which make it so unreliable and can not solve a problem? Also, revising Fourth Amendment to make it stricter would just result to unreasonable search and seizure and further wrong convictions. This will result to a big problem in the future.

There are many stops that did not result to an arrest especially the stop-and-frisk policy. Statistics say that stop-and-frisk does not work. No one has ever proved yet that stop-and-frisk actually decrease crime. Further, many of these stops have made them feel uncomfortable. Police officers tend to stop individuals because of their false judgement or assumptions. They do not follow proper stop-and-frisk which makes the community feel uncomfortable around the police. In the given example in my previous round, sense of smell is a very deceitful way of determining whether the person have been drinking and driving. For instance, while driving down the block police officer decides to stop an individual driving a car because he believes that the person driving has been drinking alcohol for he smells alcohol coming out of his car. This could be problematic because it could be other person in front of the individual being stopped that has been drinking. Now, officer stops an innocent and sober person because of his wrongful hunch. As a result, this aggravates the innocent person because officer makes them feel uncomfortable, delays and sometimes gives them trauma. In response to "the legitimacy of the police officer's hunch to legally search someone's car is also reviewed by a court to ensure legality," hunches are not legitimate ways to justify a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity; officers must have a particularized suspicion based on articulable facts in order to legally perform a stop-and-frisk/seize.

It is undeniably true that a nation won't survive by itself without all these agencies working together and helping to build a well-established nation. However, are these agencies or the government itself really doing their best for the country? In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government and the New York Police Department played a big role in this era. The number of crimes and disorders, not only in New York but nationwide, dramatically increased. The main reason why this happened in New York was because the government was controlling the New York Police Department to an extent where they are not doing the right thing anymore. They watched crime happen in front of them and refused to do anything about it. The government abused its authority because they took different ethnic sides because while was a riot going on between people of different cultures, the government took advantage of it to regulate votes for future elections. . With all the agencies you mentioned, we still have major problems that the government or agencies can not seem to solve: high percentage of unemployment, country is in trillions of debt, the economy is in a crucial state, and unaffordable health care. They have too much authority that they are not using it in the right way. This could be proven with the current situation of our country


According to what you said, "they (police officers) do not know how to properly enforce the law without abusing it." Your argument against probable cause is based on cases in which officers did not enforce the law properly. If officers are not capable of enforcing the law properly, then changing the law and substantially decreasing the federal government's authority is not the solution. If officers can't enforce a law that has stood and worked since 1792, then the problem is not with the federal government, but with the individual state police systems. If the system is being abusive then it is the system that must be reformed, not the law that has stood since the founding fathers of the federal government adopted it.
If police officers are trained properly to follow the law without abusing their power, then probable cause is used for its primary purposes: to spot criminal activity as it is occurring and prevent and reduce crime.
The federal government should not decrease its authority because its authority reduces crime if enforced properly.

Your initial argument was strictly about probable cause and the sense of smell used to justify the search of cars. Your discussion on stop and frisk is a red herring fallacy as it sidetracks from your main argument to distract from the issue you brought up in your premise. Even if you bring it up as an example, the example is still irrelevant as stop and frisk is a policy which, to be enforced, requires reasonable suspicion, not probable cause. The two are often wrongly used interchangeably as they have differing meanings and legal requirements. Furthermore, you again seem to be blaming the police for their wrongful actions implying that the police system should be reformed, while the debate is about the authority of the federal government.
Your example is flawed as well since drivers are not stopped because of the smell of alcohol coming from their cars (it would have to be extremely strong for it to be smelled outside of the moving car), they are stopped because of a driving violation that may be as a result of alcohol consumption. Officers stop drivers not from a hunch but because of the improper driving that they witnessed. Then they may smell alcohol and possibly, legally search the car.
As for your problem with my use of the word "hunch," I was using it in the way that you used it in round 1. You yourself said that the officer's hunch is also called "probable cause," but now you are saying that probable cause "is not a legitimate way to justify a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity." Perhaps "hunches" are not legitimate by their original definition, but by your definition, they imply probable cause. If you are going to redefine words then stick to your own definitions.

It is unreasonable to call for the federal government to decrease its authority because of what happened in the 80s and 90s. Furthermore, your accusations of the federal government having too much authority and not using it in the right way are unsupported by any evidence. I showed you proof of the existence of all the federal agencies and what they strive to do, but you did not show me proof of how these agencies "can not seem to solve" all the problems you mentioned. "This could be proven with the current situation of the country," but you do not provide the proof of the current situation of the country. To claim that the agencies that exist to address the issues you mentioned are not doing their job is a claim that requires substance behind it. The federal government is using its authority to address these issues through the many agencies I showed you. How would these issues be resolved if the federal government had less authority to address them? Are you saying that with less authority the government would use its authority in "the right way?" What is "the right way?"
Substantially decreasing the authority of the federal government would give the federal government less power to address pertinent issues. This would result in less of a chance for these issues to be solved so it is not sensible for the government to have its authority decreased.
Debate Round No. 2


You mentioned in your previous round that amending the Fourth Amendment will prevent criminals from getting away for the crimes they have committed; however, now you are claiming that reforming laws is not the solution to the problem. Subsequently, you changed it again and said that reforming the system is better than reforming the law. The system creates the law., therefore the law is the system. No matter how well-trained police officers are, if the people higher than them are loopholes, then they will be breaking laws. I believe that reforming the whole system perhaps in terms of replacing people in position will not be a smart idea because they will have the same power as the former elected officials and will most likely commit wrongdoings. Probable cause is not only used to determine and further prevent an on-going criminal activity but it is also used as a standard basis in a Grand Jury to prove that the crime has been committed. The United States federal government should decrease its power for they possess extremely high power that enables them to abuse it and further wrongfully enforce the law. Here are the lists of people who were in position and abused their power:

The problem with stop-and-frisk is that police officers mistaken 'hunch' from probable cause. Police officers approach their targets having a 'hunch' and further trick them to develop from 'hunch' to probable cause. It is true that reasonable suspicion is the standard of proof for legal standard for arrests and warrants. However, under the Fourth Amendment states that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." The example about stop-and-frisk is totally relevant to the topic because this policy is very complex and complicated. Again, discussing how the police do their job is not irrelevant to the topic for the job they are operating is based on the laws created by the federal government. I was not implying to make any changes or reforms within the police system because whatever mistakes they do, the authorities on top of them should be blamed because they are ones who should supervising whether the police are correctly enforcing the law. You clearly did not address the situation I indicated about a girl named Tanya Weyker. If you are going to tell me how people do not follow traffic rules that is why they get pulled over and eventually arrested of drinking while intoxicated or driving under the influence, then tell me more about what happened in this incident. This police officer, who blew a stop sign then hit Weyker's car, cruelly arrested Weyker's for unreasonable and imprudent speed, operating while intoxicated, operating with PAC >= 0.08 < 0.10, causing injury while operating while intoxicated, causing injury while operating with PAC alcohol. In short, the case was not drop when the evidence is clearly on her side when her blood drawn resulted that she absolutely had no alcohol in her system. This is one of many incidents where the system abuses its power and put people into burden.

Current situation of the country:

1) Nation's debt:

2) Unemployment rate:

3) Economic stand:

4) Health care:

Here are the sources that you demanded.

In response to your question, "Are you saying that with less authority the government would use its authority in "the right way," the answer is YES. This is because, too much authority results to an abuse of power. "What is 'the right way'?" The right way is not to extend the authority and abuse it for own's beneficiary. The United States federal government should decrease its authority because elected officials who possess an extreme power can not better our country by just looking at the current stand of it. In particular, law enforcement agencies have been abusing their power to ultimately convict an individual when they do not have enough evidence to do so. As of today, NYPD are facing million dollars of lawsuit against them for wrongfully enforcing the law.


Yes, I stand by all I have claimed. Reforming the laws in the way which you want to reform them is not the solution to the problem. Making a law stricter towards criminals will reduce criminal activity, but you want to make the law less strict, which would make many people happier, including criminals. Reforming the system which enforces the law of the land is indeed better than reforming the original law. The system that enforces the law (in this case, the police) did not create the law, so the law is not the system.
Actually, if police officers are trained properly then there are no loopholes because according to you and your new source, it is the officers who are the problem. So once again, the federal government's authority has little to do with the faults of the police officers who cannot properly enforce the law of the land. The federal government created the law for the people, not to abuse them. It is not responsible if the state governments have corrupt officers working for the police departments. Thus, there is no reason for its authority to be decreased.

Unfortunately this is the last round so you will not be able to explain to me how the federal government is at fault with how that individual officer (working for the state government, not the federal) cruelly arrested the girl. What happened would not have happened if a reasonable, properly trained officer stopped her so is the federal government's authority to blame? Not at all. It is that one officer who decided to ruin the girl's life and his supervisors are also the responsibility of the state government, not the federal.
The policy being redundantly "very complex and complicated" does not make it relevant. My previous argument stands as to why stop and frisk is irrelevant to this particular debate.

Current situations of countries: 1) Nation's debt: yes, every time Obama smiles it increases by $100B. However, decreasing the authority of the federal government will not help lower it. In fact, if the authority of the federal government increased then the national debt would have more of a chance of going down. For example, if the federal government enforced much higher taxes nationwide then the taxpayers would go far in helping the nation's financial status (yes I know this sounds horrible and would cause riots, but it would work).
2) The unemployment rate is dropping, so the federal government must be doing something right, right? Right.
3) Your source does not measure economic stand. It measures economic freedom. A higher economic freedom does not mean a better economy or economic stand. If that was the case then Estonia would have a better economy than the U.S. I think we can agree that Estonia does not have a higher economic stand, just more economic freedom.
4) Based on more recent figures, the rates of people without health care are dropping. Another point for the federal government.
Based on the evidence that both you and I provided, the amount of authority that the federal government currently possesses is not harming the nation. My original premise stands: the authority of the federal government helps the nation run smoothly and properly. There is no guarantee based on anything you said that indicates that substantially decreasing the federal government's authority would be beneficial. There is no evidence provided of the federal government abusing its power, only of police institutions which are the responsibility of state governments. There is also no evidence of anyone involved in the federal government abusing their power for own's beneficiary. Each of your arguments spoke of policing issues, not those of the federal government.
For the final time, the NYPD is the New York State's responsibility, not the federal government's. Instead of reforming the entire national legal system just so NY cops can be competent at their jobs, the issue must be addressed by NY state itself.

C) The U.S. federal government should not substantially decrease its authority.
Debate Round No. 3
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