The Instigator
Neferiel
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Cerebral_Narcissist
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points

when in conflict, the letter of the law ought to take priority over the spirit of the law.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/7/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,037 times Debate No: 9151
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (2)

 

Neferiel

Con

I negate the topic "When in conflict, the letter of the law ought to take priority over the spirit of the law."

I'd like to do a classic Lincoln-Douglas debate. Please signpost (Make sure you address the arguments you're arguing against) and have a value and criterion in your case. With that, I open the floor to the affirmative.

Thanks; I look forward to a good debate!
Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

I would like to thank Neferiel for permitting me to participate in this debate. Though I like to think I can debate well I don't have the advantage of experience in formal debates and I am new to this site so I appreciate the opportunity to participate.

I shall be arguing in favour of the motion that "when in conflict, the letter of the law ought to take priority over the spirit of the law".

When speaking of laws, it must be realised most countries laws are proposed, discussed, proof read and passed by people who are highly intelligent and/or educated and who have access to advisors who are also highly intelligent and/or educated to address a specific problem or issue faced by society. Such collective expertise is more than capable of creating laws that worded to accurately reflect the ‘spirit' of the law.

Therefore I maintain that such conflicts between the letter and spirit of the law are often simply a conflict between the intention of the law and the agenda of an individual or group who disagrees with that law. In which case it is not appropriate for such pressure groups to appeal to the ‘spirit' of the law, but rather to appeal to the Legislative for an amendment, repeal or a new law. The stated intent of the legislative should be the source of law, not the ‘subjective' interpretation of it's meaning.

In the event that a law has been poorly drafted and a conflict occurs, the legislative remains the best body to appeal to in the hopes of an amendment, repeal or a new law.

If the right of the legislative to settle such disputes is ignored or sidelined in favour of a decision in favour of the perceived spirit of the law then that takes away the power of the Legislative to make laws, and passes it to the hands of those who are meant to observe, enforce and administer the law. This has potentially dangerous consequences for government, order and civil liberties.

In the instance of a liberal democracy, government and law derives it's legitimacy from the democratic mandate. It can be argued that whereas Parliament or Congress (or similar body) has the mandate to create laws, the courts are only authorised to observe, employ and enforce the laws. By allowing for such bodies to apply what they perceive to the spirit of law permits them to effectively create the law, which is a violation of the democratic mandate.

Certain laws concern controversial areas, the countries legislative is best equipped to wade through controversy. By allowing the perceived spirit of a law to be followed instead of its letter leaves members of the Judiciary or the law enforcement vulnerable to politicization and lobbying and enables them to change the law in the favour of a particular group without recourse to the legislative.

A possible example of this is the ongoing ‘softening' of the law on assisted suicide in the UK. The euthanasia debate has not yet been resolved by Parliament but is falling to the Judiciary to settle. Though this is legal, it is a violation of the sovereignty of parliament, and the democratic spirit of the UK. The gradual process of legislation by precedent is also a threat to civil liberties, potentially leaving the seriously ill, disabled or elderly open to pressure to end their lives.

I therefore maintain that in the interests of the law, it's spirit, democracy, civil liberty and proper governance that wherever possible the letter of the law must be followed.
Debate Round No. 1
Neferiel

Con

Neferiel forfeited this round.
Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

My opponent has forfeited the round so I restate my original post.
Debate Round No. 2
Neferiel

Con

Neferiel forfeited this round.
Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

My opponent has again forfeited. I restate my original argument.
Debate Round No. 3
Neferiel

Con

Neferiel forfeited this round.
Cerebral_Narcissist

Pro

As my opponent has forfeited again I restate my original post.

As my opponent, who bears the burden of proof has failed to provide a single argument, address a single counter-argument, has forfeited every round and has failed to explain his absence in person or via a third party then I strongly urge a PRO vote.

Thank you for your time.
Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by rougeagent21 7 years ago
rougeagent21
Narwal, not all debates have to be LD style.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
Should I just report this vote and get it pulled?
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
Should I just report this vote and get it pulled?
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
I don't exactly know what you mean by value or VC, contentions have been made, definitions seem unncessary as the terms of the debate are clear. I have made my background in debate quite clear. Though I can argue I am not a formal debator.
Posted by Narwal19 7 years ago
Narwal19
Where's the value, VC, contentions, definitions?
Posted by Rezzealaux 7 years ago
Rezzealaux
Yes, that is correct C_N
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 7 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
Just to clarify, I am arguing in favour of literalism (the letter), you are arguing in favour of intent (the spirit)?

I know it's a silly question, just wanted to make 100% sure!
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
Got it.
Posted by Neferiel 7 years ago
Neferiel
All right, so, there's a law that says "No vehicles in the Generic Example Park", right? But it was written with the intent to keep obnoxious motorists out. However, an ambulance has the choice to cut through the park instead of going around. Cutting through the park would save 10 minutes or so to the hospital. The letter of the law still upholds that "No vehicles should be in the park", but the spirit says "Ambulances aren't your typical obnoxious motorists, and this law wasn't written with the INTENT to keep ambulances out, so it's fine to pass."

Basically, it's Literalism Vs. Intent.
Posted by theCall 7 years ago
theCall
If any of you mind, can you generally describe or tell us what's this topic about please? Thank you.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by rougeagent21 7 years ago
rougeagent21
NeferielCerebral_NarcissistTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by Clockwork 7 years ago
Clockwork
NeferielCerebral_NarcissistTied
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Total points awarded:07