The Instigator
Pro (for)
14 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Qualified Immunity

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Judge Point System: Select Winner
Started: 2/9/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,547 times Debate No: 99756
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (146)
Votes (2)





Hayd asked for people who were willing to debate old LD topics with him, and I was happy to volunteer myself. I don't believe Hayd and I have debated yet, so this should be a wonderful opportunity to do so--he is an excellent debater, and I look forward to our upcoming exchange.

As this topic involves a controversial subject on which people may or may not have strong opinions, I have opted to nominate a judging panel of people I know to be qualified, to reduce the chance of judging bias. Those judges, by accepting this debate, agree to set aside their personal views on the topic and to adjudicate the round as impartially as they can; they also agree to refrain from discussing their vote or the outcome of the debate with any third party or the debaters themselves before casting their ballot. The judges are: Airmax, Whiteflame, Danielle, Lannan, Tej, Warren, and Smithers. If Hayd would like to have this list altered in any way, he should inform me before the start of the debate. The voting period lasts 14 days.


The United States ought to limit qualified immunity for police officers


Ought - implies moral desirability
Limit - to curtail or reduce in quantity or extent
Qualified Immunity - a legal doctrine which "protects government officials from lawsuits alleging that they violated plaintiffs' rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a 'clearly established' statutory or constitutional right. When determining whether or not a right was 'clearly established,' courts consider whether a hypothetical reasonable official would have known that the defendant’s conduct violated the plaintiff’s rights" (Cornell Law School). Additionally, qualified immunity is a pretrial defense which prevents discovery and prevents a case proceeding to trial.
Police Officer - an employee of the government whose job it is to enforce laws, investigate crimes, protect the public, and make arrests


1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution, e.g. the assumption that morality exists)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate (unless otherwise specified in R1)
9. The BOP is evenly shared
10. The first round is for acceptance only
11. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
12. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss


R1. Acceptance
R2. Pro's Case; Con's Case
R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R5. Pro generic Rebuttal and Crystallization; Con generic Rebuttal and Crystallization

Thanks... Hayd. I am looking forward to having this chance to debate you!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks, Hayd, for the debate! On to my case...

I. Framework

Different responsibilities yield different moral calculations. A lawyer's moral duty to his client, requires him to uphold the client's confidentiality even if that client were to confess to a crime. If that client confessed to someone who did not have this duty of confidentiality to him, however, it would not be wrong of this third party to report the confession to the police. A parent, in virtue of their special relationship to their child, has moral responsibilities to their child that they do not have for other children. It seems wrong for a parent who had the time to skip their child's graduation or to fail to help their child with homework. It would not be wrong, however, for a parent to abstain from attending the graduation of a random child or to not help that random child with homework. In a similar vein to these cases, governments have special duties of care to their own citizens, both because citizens contribute to their societies in unique ways (they pay taxes, they vote, they serve on juries, etc), which entail reciprocal obligations from the state to pay citizens back for these contributions, but also because of the more ephemeral sociocultural and moral connections that people share with their countries. It is important also to note that, in each of these three cases, failing to recognize the validity of these special obligations is highly problematic. Without attorney client privilege, the right to due process would be infringed; if parents had equal moral obligations to all children, virtually all parents living today would be behaving immoral, which is clearly preposterous; and, if government's had equal obligations to all people, (a) they could never devote sufficient resources to their own citizens and (b) would not be repaying citizens for the services they contributed to and contracted for. Therefore, the standard for this debate is simple: countries ought to do what is in the best interests of their citizens. If limiting Qualified Immunity (QI) is in the best interest of the citizens, then you ought to vote Pro.

II. The Plan

A. Plan Text

    • 1. Equalizing the burdens between the police officer and the victim in QI proceedings
    • 2. Courts erring on the side of the victims when the cases are roughly in equipoise
    • 3. Forcing discovery to take place. Discovery is "the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they'll present at trial. Discovery enables the parties to know before the trial begins what evidence may be presented." [1]
    • 4. Forcing courts to rule on the constitutionality of the police officers' actions and on the existence or nonexistence of the right(s) at issue

B. Topicality

Currently, the burden to prove that a right was clearly establish lies with the victim in QI cases, not on the police officers. [2] Also, courts are not required to make rulings on the constitutionality of a police officer's conduct and discovery is preempted by rulings in favor of the police officers [3, & see definition]. By changing these elements of QI, I limit the scope of the right to QI for police officers, making it more difficult for them to claim QI protections and curtailing some of their privileges under the status quo. Thus, the plan is clearly topical insofar as it limits QI for police officers in a number of relevant ways.

III. Arguments

A. Catch-22

"Because of the way the doctrine is structured, courts can decide an official is entitled to qualified immunity by concluding that he or she has not violated a 'clearly established' right without ever answering the question of whether his or her conduct did, in fact, violate the Constitution. This means that courts can dismiss constitutional rights claims without precisely clarifying the scope of the law." [3] "Plaintiffs cannot overcome qualified immunity unless the right they assert is clearly established. Yet if courts always avoid the underlying constitutional issues in qualified immunity cases, they will have fewer opportunities to establish clearly new constitutional rights." [4] The catch-22 is clear: if a right isn’t established, courts won’t rule on it, which prevents it from being established.

Catch-22s create black holes within a system, where the rules require one to do X but simultaneously prevent one from doing X. In this quandry therefore, one can input information but receive none back, because things simply loop back on one another. Catch-22s impinge on the government's ability to effectively administer justice and protect the public by undermining the operability, credibility, and fairness of the judicial system. My plan solves for the catch-22 by forcing courts to make rulings on the constitutionality of officers' conduct and on the presence of a given right, breaking the loop.

B. Transparency

1. Lawsuits

Police officers often do not properly file complaints. Lawsuits are therefore necessary to expose misconduct. "The Christopher Commission that investigated the LAPD found that 'complaints of officer misconduct made by the public were often noted in daily activity logs rather than recorded in the official Personnel Complaint Form that triggers a formal complaint investigation...' DOJ investigations have revealed the same tactics used in other departments: officers improperly classify misconduct claims so that they will not be investigated by internal affairs." [5] Consider the quite reason findings of the DOJ regarding the Chicago police department. These findings detail how police misconduct was almost never investigated further, speaking to a culture of virtual nonchalance towards blatant acts of abuse. [6, 7]

When lawsuits have a chance of making it to trial and perhaps result in financial pain for officers, police departments, or municipalities, lawsuits become an esp. potent tool in motivating watchdogs and officials to investigate claims of misconduct. But, when police feel that they are able to hide behind the shroud of QI, the utility of lawsuits as a means of prompting investigations diminishes, insofar as they have no teeth to them.

By changing how the legal burden of proof functions and by presuming in favor of victims in close cases, my plan makes it more likely that police will face trial for credible accusations of misconduct, thereby adding "teeth" to the possibility of litigation.

2. Discovery

"Qualified immunity shields police misconduct not only from liability but also from meaningful judicial scrutiny. Private lawsuits are an essential tool in uncovering the truth about police misconduct. The discovery process can yield information that makes broader policy changes within police departments possible...Qualified immunity can cut this search for truth short." [8] By ensuring that discovery takes place, my plan makes it easier for lawsuits to uncover the facts behind each case.

C. Abuse

1. Near-Absolute Defense

"In practice, qualified immunity provides a near-absolute defense...The Ninth Circuit has held that throwing a flash-bang grenade 'blindly' into a house, injuring a toddler, isn't outrageous enough. Just last year...the Supreme Court decided that firing 15 bullets at a motorist is a reasonable method to end the driver's flight from the police." [8] The absolutely egregious activity that QI has been used to protect clearly suggests that QI protections may be too strong. Shifting the burden of proof in QI hearings would make it harder for police to hide behind with impunity behind the QI doctrine.

2. Encouragement

By allowing police officers to feel as if they have significant added protection against litigation, QI may actually reduce police officers' inhibitions against committing acts of abuse. Consider, if an officer wants to engage in a certain abusive act, and believes--whether wrongly or rightly--that QI will protect him from suit, that officer is more apt to feel able to engage in that misconduct than if they were uncertain whether QI would protect them. "[QI] that protects police officers in Illinois and elsewhere has caused believe that they can act immunity. They might consequently choose to shoot first and think second, acting with a level of force that is clearly out of proportion to the threat." [10] Moreover, "police brutality may also lead to police corruption. The Mollen Commission, for example, found that '[o]nce the line was crossed without consequences, it was easier [for officers] to abuse their authority in other ways, including corruption.'" [9]

Keeping the QI barrier as high as it is right now for victims to climb maintains the appearance that police are immune from litigation. Only by reducing QI's protections can we begin to erode that appearance and thus strengthen the psychological obstacles which prevent police from acting inappropriately.

D. Legitimacy

In order to preserve the legitimacy of not only the policy, but also the court system, it is imperative that citizens believe that misconduct in these institutions will not go uninvestigated or unpunished. "Policing the police is essential to building public trust in government and legitimating the rules of our society. Otherwise, communities, especially those of color, become fearful of the police and understandably fail to cooperate in stopping crime." [9] By making it easier for lawsuits to go to trial and for bad cops to be held accountable, my plan will contribute to greater community trust in the aforesaid organizations.

IV. Sources

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -

Thus, I affirm. Thanks to the readers and to Hayd.


I negate the proposition that the US ought to have limited qualified immunity for police officers. I negate this in order to best uphold the value of justice. I choose the value of justice because the subject of qualified immunity is intrinsically a judicial matter, and it is a truism that every judicial court in the world holds or ought to hold perpetuation of justice as its main concern. In this regard, I argue that the judges evaluate the arguments of the debate based on how best they uphold the value of justice. The meaning of justice can be described as fairness, equality, and equity.

Qualified immunity doctrine dictates that, “government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” [1] Note, qualified immunity only protects government officials from civil lawsuits, not criminal ones. “In law, damages are an award, typically of money, to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury.” [2] In the case of this debate, this would mostly refer to compensation to families and victims of police brutality/negligence.

I argue for unlimited qualified immunity for police officers. This means that in all cases in which the police officer in question qualifies for immunity they are immune to civil lawsuits; this right is an absolute. Pro argues for a world in which there would be circumstances in which police officers qualifying for immunity will still have to face civil lawsuits.

I find that allowing citizens to sue for damages does not uphold the value of justice, and thus that the judges should vote to negate the resolution.

Limiting qualified immunity results in taxpayers paying for police brutality

If qualified immunity is limited, this opens the possibility of civil lawsuits for damages to be won. Because police officers indemnify the police department in civil lawsuits, the police department would pay the compensation money to the victim/family of the victim. And because police departments get all of their funds from taxes, the taxpayers will be the ones paying compensation money to victims of police brutality. Taxpayers of the ten cities with the largest police departments collectively paid $1.4 billion in compensation money over the last five years [3]. A study found that taxpayers paid for, “99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement.” [4]

Taxation is intrinsically undesirable to citizens because it forcibly confiscates their property. Is it just to punish the taxpayers for police brutality? The basics of justice dictate that those who commit a wrongdoing should bear the punishment. The basics of justice dictate that levying an undeserved punishment is unjust. Thus, limiting qualified immunity is a gross violation to the value of justice and must be negated.

Plan to Negate Resolution

In the world that I defend—unlimited qualified immunity—there is no way for police officers to be sued for damages if they qualify for immunity. The police officers still face criminal charges, but there is no compensation for victims or their families. Thus I propose compensating victims via private charities.

Private charities already fill in many gaps in the criminal justice system effectively such as providing free legal advice to those who can’t afford it, offender and ex-offender rehabilitation, addiction treatment services, free psychological trauma therapy, legal education services, friendship and entertainment to prisoners, etc. A large list is available here [5]. Organizations like the ACLU with a budget of $130 million provide extensive legal services to victims, the National Crime Prevention Council with a budget of $3 million provides crime prevention materials and information, the NAACP with $30 million budget fights legal racial discrimination. Private charities have successfully filled many gaps in the criminal justice system already; and thus there is no reason to believe that victim compensation cannot as well.

Keep in mind that this is not a large burden to undertake. My statistic on taxpayers paying $1.4 billion regards police officers that did not qualify for immunity. The only victim compensation that private charities would have to undertake to maintain my plan would be those that Pro seeks to allow to sue for damages. The ability of private charities to fully compensate said victims unquestionable.


The topic of the debate is purely a legal one. It concerns how the court system ought to function. Courts function—and ought to function—based off of justice. Social welfare, policy initiatives, etc. are irrelevant to this; Courts function independent of it. Because courts ought to function to best uphold justice, not to support various policies, judges need to evaluate arguments based on whether limiting qualified immunity affirms or negates justice. Limited qualified immunity negates justice, and thus must be negated.






Debate Round No. 2


Thanks again to Hayd. I will now address Con's case.

I. Framework

A. Morality v. Justice

I didn't know we would be actually offering specific value-frameworks in this debate (in traditional LD style), but it is fairly clear that "morality" is a more central question to the resolution than "justice." This topic is not "purely legal" because it is asking a clearly moral question. Ought has been defined as indicating moral desirability; given that ought is the evaluative term in the resolution, the topic is asking us what we should do per morality, not per justice. Ultimately, then, only arguments which link to morality can be used to indicate what the US "ought" to do.

Furthermore, I think it is important to recognize that morality and justice are inherently distinct concepts. Con says that justice can be described as fairness, while I offer a theory of role morality. In my world, it would be moral for the government to do something unfair so long as that unfair thing was in the best interests of the citizens. This illustrates an important conceptual difference between justice and morality, and illustrates therefore that Con cannot affirm an ought statement with justice.

I also want to say that morality and legality are not the same. Slavery was--at one time--legal. That did not mean that slavery was ever moral. By framing this debate as one of legality and justice, Hayd has fundamentally miscast the task the resolution is giving us. We are here to answer a question of morality, albeit within the legal system; but the question remains a moral one.

B. QI Issues

I will also say briefly that the official definition of QI for this debate is the one presented in R1 (per the rules), not the one Hayd offered. While I don't expect definitions to be a point of contention, I want this to be clear from the get-go. And, just to quickly touch on my advocacy again, I must defend limiting QI, i.e. reducing the scope of QI protections for police officers. So, there may be police in Hayd's world which would've qualified for QI which do not qualify for QI in mine. I do not do away with QI. Hayd needs to show that keeping absolute QI is better than even reducing QI protections to the slightest degree.

II. Indemnification

A. Immunizing the Government

Hayd claims that it is unfair to tax citizens for the wrongs of police officers. Using this logic, it would always be unfair to sue government agents who misbehave, because they might be indemnified. We could carry this even further: what if a police department--a government agency--does something wrong. Would it be unfair to sue the department, because the taxpayers, who are not themselves directly at fault, would be paying? If that is unfair, could we ever sue the government? If we can't ever sue the government, citizens lose a powerful means of protecting their civil rights, which may actually increase the net unfairness going on. If citizens cannot sue, then injustices perpetrated by the government can never be rectified or halted, which is also unfair and unjust. Hayd's argument basically makes the government immune from any civil lawsuits, because the taxpayers will be paying the government's legal fees and any damages won by the plaintiff.

B. Inflated Impacts

1. Limiting Indemnification

If QI is limited and more police go to trials, it is logical to assume that police departments may respond by limiting the scope of the indemnification they provide to officers in order to avoid having to foot the bills for those suits. Perhaps departments may cap the expenses they will cover, or only offer indemnification in certain kinds of suits, or indemnify on a case-by-case basis. But it is highly unlikely that indemnification will exist to the extent Hayd describes, and so it is probable that the taxpayers will not be charged as much as Hayd imagines they will be.

2. Not Abolishing

Since I am not abolishing QI, many lawsuits, particularly those without merit, will never make it to trial anyway. So, again, the cost of affirming is likely not to be as high as Hayd might envisage it being.

3. Deterrence

The deterrent impact of limiting QI on police misconduct may reduce the number of lawsuits by reducing the amount of abusive police behavior, thereby reducing the costs of limiting QI.

C. Keeping Departments Honest

Departments, to avoid paying indemnification-related fees, will have an incentive to better train and monitor their officers in order to curb police misconduct and reduce the number of suits. This way, limiting QI may still result in reduced police brutality.

III. Charities

A. Impunity

Having charities pay the damages may only strengthen the feeling of impunity felt by both the departments and the officers. If both know that they will never face monetary consequences for their actions, the psychological and financial barriers against misconduct will erode further. What incentive do agencies have to waste money on community policing programs or excessive force training when they will never have to pay for any court rulings as a result of officer misconduct? Why should officers feel constrained against using excessive force when they know they won't be paying legal damages for it?

B. Taxation vs. Charity

Charitable giving cannot replacing tax money. Charitable donations are significantly less than governments can raise through taxation, because one is voluntary and one is not. Charitable giving is also more susceptible to economic situations--people may stop giving altogether in a bad recession, but they still have to pay taxes. Moreover, plaintiffs who win their cases can force either the police or their departments to pay out; but plaintiffs cannot compel third-parties like charities to pay out, so there is little in the way of an ironclad guarantee that victims will even get their compensation in Hayd's world.

C. Feasibility and Framing

Hayd gives us literally no reason to suppose that people would actually donate to these charities in large enough numbers for his plan to work. His gives us no reason at all to believe that there would be sufficient gifting to these charities to allow them to operate to fill the void of government. Making up $1.4 billion is not an easy task.

People give to causes that garner their sympathy, which may not always be the most important or pressing causes. The Make-A-Wish foundation pulls at my heartstrings. Seeing a sick little kid get the time of his life as he walks in a batman costume through "Gotham" saving innocent civilians. But, the Make-A-Wish doesn't feed the hungry or cure the sick; it helps a few kids smile throughout the year, and that's great, but it doesn't begin to solve the big problems. Police officers who are convicted of abuse and face civil damages are hardly going to generate as much sympathy as the kid in the batman suit.

You will also notice, of course, that nearly every charity and charitable service that Hayd lists (bar the NCPC) is benefiting the victims of police abuse or crime, and not benefiting the police officers themselves. Claiming that charities like these could be co-opted to help pay the legal damages owed by abusive police officers, or that these charities serve as a model for new charities which could help pay for those officers, is absurd and disingenuous. Because, ultimately, what Hayd is proposing is that these charities act as a legal screen for police officers--it is hard to imagine the ACLU, for instance, agreeing to be complicit in shielding police officers and departments from having to pay damages to victims of police brutality.

Hayd is not really talking about helping the victims. Both he and I are trying to compensate victims, but only I hold the police and their departments accountable. Hayd is just talking about letting police off the hook for their abuse. How is that fair, how is that just?

D. Charity Discussion Premature

If Hayd is keeping QI as it is, he is keeping a system in place that already shields officers from having to answer for dubious actions. It is likely very few cases would ever make it to trial, including cases which obviously have merit. Since those cases never go to trial, they will never have a chance at receiving compensation. So, all this talk of charities is a bit premature, since we first need to make it easier for meritorious cases to advance to trial in order to ensure that those cases and those victims have a chance of being heard and being compensated. Only my plan is maximizing the opportunity for people with legitimate grievances to not only get their day in court, but to get compensation of any kind, irrespective of who pays it.

E. Even If: Perm

Charity is non-unique. There is nothing in the resolution which prevents me implementing Hayd's charity plan. Even if Hayd defeats my arguments against charity, then he's still not gaining any offense, because there is no reason I can't just perm his plan. Either way, Hayd is losing this offense.

IV. Concluding Thoughts

It's not fair to encourage police abuse by increasing police impunity. It's not fair to deny meritorious cases their day in court. It's not fair to protect a system which creates legal catch-22s. It's not fair to make the government immune from any lawsuits. It's not fair to let police officers and departments off the hook for their wrongdoings. I truly don't see how Hayd is really achieving justice.

Only my plan gives victims a meaningful opportunity to seek justice, regardless of who provides the compensation. What good does it do for charities to provide compensation if people aren't given a sufficient chance to win that compensation in the first place? Hayd still prevents discovery, hindering the search for truth. He still allows for legal catch-22s. And his advocacy may actually make police misconduct more likely than it already is. That's not moral or just.

Thus, I affirm. Thanks again to Hayd and to the readers! Please Vote Pro!


Observation 1: Pro does not provide a plan for under what conditions victims can sue QI police men. The extent to which he limits QI determines the extent to which charities will compensate victims in my plan. Leaving it ambiguous makes it impossible to negate my argument.

Observation 2: The burdens of the debate are equal. I have to provide argumentation that the US ought to have absolute QI, and Pro for limited QI. I can provide a plan to negate the resolution as long as under my plan absolute QI exists and is unique to my side.

Observation 3: This debate is about which side best upholds justice. Pro’s argument that QI increases police abuse is a utilitarian one regarding social welfare rather than legal philosophy. This is has no impact.

The problem that Pro presents with QI standards is that courts are allowed to dismiss suits based on the fact that constitutional rights in certain cases had not been clearly established. Pro’s plan overrides the “clearly established law” check by forcing courts to rather evaluate constitutionality of officers' conduct.

This argument does not work because it violates the definition of QI. QI is a standard, a constant, defined in R1 clearly as,“[in cases] where officials violated a 'clearly established' statutory or constitutional right.” Changing the qualification standards for immunity changes what we are debating. The resolution says to debate whether to limit X and Pro just changed the resolution to whether to limit Y. They are two different things. Plans do not allow for changing the definitions in R1, this argument cannot be allowed. The problem thus exists in both sides of the debate (limited QI would not change this), and thus is irrelevent.

This argument also has no impact because his only solution to it is in his plan, which is not unique to the resolution. I can adopt his plan as well and still affirm absolute QI.

Morality v Justice
Pro is right in arguing that the resolution concerns what is morally desirable for the US to do, but is wrong in arguing that this negates my framework of justice. Morality is commonly understood as something that autonomous beings use to decide what is just. I successfully evaluated what a government can justly do in a concern such as qualified immunity in my last round. I will reiterate it here: qualified immunity is an entirely judicial concern. All judiciaries in the world act based on the one paramount value: justice. A just government thus would evaluate this topic based on a value of justice.

Pro’s role morality theory—the argument that governments ought to act in the best interest of citizens—does not hold up under scrutiny. We can accept that a utilitarian entity such as a legislature should structure policy in accordance to social well-being, but this is not the same for a judicial branch of government. The judiciary does not and should not consider policy from a perspective of acting in the interest of citizens, but rather from a value of justice.

An example would be that it could be in the interest of citizens that X criminal be beaten and hung for his heinous crime. A judiciary should not approach this problem from would benefit the citizens; but rather from the justice of it. Beating and hanging someone is a cruel and unusual punishment, and thus the judiciary should rule against the interest of citizens.

Any just government would evaluate qualified immunity—a judicial matter—under the value of justice. Thus my value wins out.

QI Definition Issues
I do not want to contend definitions either, but in this case it is necessary. The resolution does not state “limit the qualifications for immunity for police officers.” Pro specifically advocates for this when he says, “[T]here may be police in Hayd's world which would've qualified for QI which do not qualify for QI in mine.”

It says limit “qualified immunity.” Saying *limit* X constitutes X as a constant. Qualified immunity is a constant because it is clearly established in Supreme Court cases what constitutes qualified immunity for police officers. Thus, the resolution cannot mean to limit the qualification standards for which police officers qualify for immunity. Even if you accept that is what it means, it is irrational when applied to the debate. What does it mean to “limit” the qualifications? If we use the R1 definition of limit—reducing in content or extent—then we are reducing in content and extent the qualifications for immunity. This means that in Pro’s world there is a relaxation on the qualifications, allowing more police officers to qualify. This results in a contradiction for Pro because he argues specifically that, “[T]here may be police in Hayd's world which would've qualified for QI which do not qualify for QI in mine.” Contradictions cannot exist; Pro’s premise must be wrong.

Immunizing the Government
Pro argues that if it is proven to be unfair to sue police departments for damages, for the reason it punishes the taxpayers, then it would be unfair to sue any government agency for wrongdoing because they all get money from taxpayers.

This line of argumentation ignores the fact that qualified immunity only regards civil suits, not criminal ones. Citizens still maintain full civil rights as they are allowed to bring criminal charges against any wrongdoing. They just cannot sue in order to get compensation from the government. Compensation to the victim has nothing to do with punishing or deterring criminal wrongdoing in the government (especially since it *only* punishes taxpayers.) Thus any citizen can still justly sue any department for wrongdoing.

Inflated Impacts
Pro argues that the police officers would not indemnify the police department and thus the taxpayers would not end up spending that much money. It does not matter the extent to which the taxpayers are paying money. The fact that they are paying any money at all violates justice. Simply, I do not need the taxpayers to pay any large sum of money in order to win this argument; the fact that they pay money at all affirms my value.

Pro argues that police officer misconduct will continue unabated if charities face the monetary burden rather than the police department.

This is wrong because the police departments do not face monetary burden because any loss is replenished by the taxpayers. The taxpayers are the ones who are punished, not the police departments. By introducing charities I am transferring the punishment from taxpayers to charities that *voluntarily* undertake it.

Taxation vs. Charity
Pro argues that one can only raise enough money to cover compensations through taxation, not through private charities.

I cover why charities will be able to raise enough funds for the small amount of cases that they will have to cover under the next topic.

Pro also argues here that there is a chance that some victims will not receive compensation because a court cannot compel a third party to pay out. This is not true because if the public discovered that a charity did not give compensation to a victim then the public would not donate to that charity. You can tell from charity advertising that effectiveness is one of the most important deciding factors for a donator on which charity to donate. Skipping over a victim would be fatal to a charity and thus wouldn’t happen.

Feasibility and Framing
Pro argues that it is not reasonable to believe that enough people would donate to compensation charities to cover all the victims that are in need of compensation. He argues that, “Police officers who are convicted of abuse and face civil damages are hardly going to generate [sympathy.]” Pro further asserts that charities would have to cover $1.4 billion (based off of my source.)

Responding to the first argument, the public is extremely compassionate and sympathetic to victims of police violence. For example, 7 in 10 millennials are “very concerned about the safety of police officers doing their jobs in the current political environment.” [quoted in 1]

The public at large is also concerned with police brutality after the publicity of police violence against unarmed black men. For example, tens of thousands of people marched in New York to protest the killing of Michael Brown [2]. The immense national attention towards the victims of police brutality will result in mass amounts of donations to charities compensating families.

The $1.4 billion figure is of the officers that did not qualify for immunity and thus allowed civilians to sue for damages. In the world that I argue for, officers that do not qualify for immunity can still be sued for damages. The $1.4 billion would exist in both of our worlds, and in both of the worlds it would be payed by the government.

Private charities only have to cover an extremely small percentage of $1.4 billion. This percentage is out of the victims that Pro still allows to sue for damages against qualifying policemen, and then of those, the ones that win their cases. If the need for private charities to fill a gap in the criminal justice system arose is enough to raise the money necessary. Because police brutality is a *national issue* it will raise substantial amounts of money. For an example of a national issue see the ALS ice bucket challenge. The ALS ice bucket challenge was a national phenomena and it raised $115 million in one year [5]. Private charitable donations could possibly be enough to cover all compensation to victims of police brutality when police officers don’t qualify; it most likely could cover half. But all I need to prove is that it can cover the cases in which Pro allows suits for damage against qualifying police officers. This only a handful of cases, and thus is only a fraction of the total amount of compensation money. It is an inarguable truism that private charitable donations could cover the compensation for these people.

Sources in comments
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks Hayd!

I. Framework

A. Plan

Hayd misconstrues what I'm arguing. M plan text changes only those things I specified--all else remains constant between our worlds. Police can be sued for the same kinds of abuses in both of our worlds, though whether QI is granted is a separate matter. I explain that QI should not be granted where cases are in "rough equipoise" or where the victim clearly shows that the police officer should not receive QI. These thresholds are fairly clear-cut.

B. Definitions

I am required "to limit qualified immunity for police officers." This is reasonably interpreted as limiting the scope of QI protections for police officers. Let's substitute the definition of limit and part of the definition for QI for those words in the resolution. If we do that, this is what we get: "The United States ought to reduce in quantity or extent the legal doctrine which protects government officials from lawsuits." In this case, the government officials are police officers. But what this shows is that we are reducing the extent of the legal doctrine which protects police officers, implying that it should be easier to deny them QI and that some changes to how QI works are required to affirm. I cannot abolish QI, but there is no reason I cannot tweak it as long as I leave the basic structure in place.

Hayd says this is not what the resolution means. But he offers no clear, non-ambiguous alternative interpretation rooted in the definitions given in round 1. If we don't limit the scope of QI protections, then what is being limited? How can I ever be topical? Moreover, he drops my topicality arguments under my plan; extend these arguments; they show that I'm topical.

C. Morality v. Justice

Con concedes that the resolution is asking a moral question. Con gives us literally no analysis to support his assertion that morality is commonly understood as something that allows us to decide what is just. I would argue that morality is a system by which we understand what is right, whereas justice is a system that allows us to understand what is fair. These two concepts are distinct. A utilitarian moral system might argue that taxation is morally right because it funds useful programs, but Hayd argues that taxation is unfair. This example shows that there is a conceptual distinction between morality and justice. That is all I need to do to delink Hayd's framework from the resolution. Hayd cannot affirm by showing his position to be just. He can only affirm by showing his position to be moral. Hayd also drops that legality =/= morality.

D. Role Morality

The judiciary has a responsibility to the common welfare as a branch of the government. Arguably, the reason it incapacitate of criminals, enforces laws, etc., is that if it did not perform these socially vital functions, social welfare would be severely imperiled. While I think dispensing justice is a goal of the courts, because I think that this goal does often promote the general welfare, I would not argue that it is the goal of the courts. Consider the following example: a court is aware that if it makes ruling Y, there will be massive riots potentially killing thousands of people. If it makes ruling Z, it does an injustice to a single person, but saves the lives of thousands. I would contend that the court ought to make ruling Z.

Moreover, none of Hayd's arguments challenge a key aspect of my logic: "governments have special duties of care to their own citizens, both because citizens contribute to their societies in unique ways (they pay taxes, they vote, they serve on juries, etc), which entail reciprocal obligations from the state to pay citizens back for these contributions, but also because of the more ephemeral sociocultural and moral connections that people share with their countries." These bonds do not just apply to "utilitarian entit[ies] such as a legislature;" courts could not function without taxes and jurors. Courts are part of this social contract, and thus carry the same obligations as the legislature. Hayd drops my logic here.

E. Miscellaneous

Hayd offers no particular theory of justice or fairness. His own advocacy is therefore extremely vague. Justice is not some monolithic concept; there are myriad interpretations thereof. At least I am offering you a clear interpretation of morality. Also, there are ways I can link into the justice framework, as you'll see.

II. My Case

A. Points B-D

Hayd drops my entire case except for the catch-22 argument. Extend transparency, abuse, and legitimacy. These arguments clearly link to both frameworks, as allowing abuse to go unpunished, unacknowledged by the courts through findings of guilt, and undeterred is unfair. Moreover, a prerequisite to administering justice is truth-seeking. Without things like discovery taking place, the court cannot reach meaningful findings to properly administer justice. Finally, if courts are not seen as legitimate, communities become more likely to use the judicial system rather than to resort to unfair vigilantism or to refuse to cooperate with police to solve crimes.

B. Catch-22

Con does not dispute that the catch-22 exists or that the catch-22 is unfair. Thus, if I can prove my solvency is topical, I am winning offense weighable under both standards.

I am not allowing courts to dismiss suits based on the fact that constitutional rights in certain cases had not been clearly established. What I am doing is requiring courts to make constitutional rulings in QI proceedings so that future cases can be clearly established.

Allow me to explain by example. Suppose Officer Bob is sued for violating right C and faces a QI hearing. Suppose the Court decides that right C was not clearly established, but never rules that right C existed. Bob gets QI and goes on his merry way. Then, a few months later, Officer Sally violates right C, and also gets QI, because the first court never clearly established whether right C existed. The cycle repeats.

What I'm calling for is this: Officer Bob gets sued for violating right C and faces a QI hearing. The Court finds that right C was not clearly established, but does rule that right C exists. Bob gets QI (because it wasn't clearly established when he violated it). But, when Officer Sally violates right C, she is denied QI because the right was previously clearly established by the court during Bob's hearing. Suddenly, we go from endless loop of impunity (the catch-22) to a fair judicial system.

III. Con's Case

A. Indemnification

1. Immunizing the Government

Hayd seems to concede that his logic would preclude all lawsuits against the government. Do not allow him to back track on this--otherwise he can unfairly shift the goalposts. He then says that criminal trials are a sufficient alternative to check the government. If I can show that they're not a sufficient alternative, I win this point. There are three reasons why criminal trials aren't sufficient checks on the government:

i. The government decides whether to initiate criminal trials. If you suspect a police department (PD) of abuse, but the district attorney refuses to prosecute them for abuse. How can we expose the injustice, if citizens cannot initiate lawsuits on their own and force discovery to take place? Hayd is basically saying that government should police itself; that's almost as laughable as saying oil companies can self-regulate.
ii. Civil trials have lower burdens of proof, so it is easier to get convictions and thus they function as a greater deterrent to misbehavior.
iii. Not all forms of government misconduct are (clearly) criminal. Lawsuits are therefore still necessary to check illegal or improper activity.

Hayd also never responds to the idea that suing even for non-monetary compensation (or even filing a criminal case) might be unfair to taxpayers, since their money would be going to pay for the government's legal fees. He says, "The fact that [the taxpayers] are paying any money at all violates justice."

2. Inflated Impacts

Hayd concedes my arguments here. These at least function as mitigation. If I can show that my impacts outweigh his mitigated arguments under whatever standard we use, then you vote Pro.

3. Charities

i. Impunity

Taxpayers pay for government budgets, but that doesn't mean that civil damages don't punish PDs. Legislatures are less likely to allocate funds to departments who lose lawsuits. Also, PDs have to pay for those damages out of their allocated budgets. Government agencies have a clear interest in increase their budgets to boost their clout and capacity. Also, worker bees want more money for (and higher-ups want to avoid scandals so that they get) bonuses and promotions.

ii. Taxation v. Charity

Do I choose not to donate to Medecins sans Frontieres or Make-A-Wish because they do not help every single needy person? No. Con concedes that courts cannot compel charities to pay compensation to everyone who deserves it, and so there is a real risk that victims will go without their just rectification.

Con drops that charity is more susceptible to economic ups and downs.

iii. Feasibility + Framing

Please disregard all of Con's sourced info since the citations were not in the text of the debate, as required by the rules.

Con drops that "these charities act as a legal screen for police officers--it is hard to imagine the ACLU, for instance, agreeing to be complicit in shielding police officers and departments from having to pay damages to victims of police brutality." His charities aren't going to garner the sympathy he says they will because this isn't about compensating victims (that happens in my world too). It's about shielding abusive officers.

iV. Other

Con drops that talk of charities is premature and that charities are non-unique. Extend these. I'll impact them later in the debate.

Thus, I affirm. Thanks to Con and the readers. Please Vote Pro!


In this round I will be responding to what Pro said in R4. This will be organized by corresponding contention headings, with my response to the argument written underneath. Thank you.

The status quo of QI in the the US is absolute, unlimited QI. This means that if a police officer meets the qualifications for immunity—as defined in R1—he cannot be sued for damages. QI *is* what is defined in R1. By affirming a pseudo-QI, Pro is not affirming the resolution of the debate. Because Pro’s arguments depend on this pseudo-QI, Pro cannot win the debate.

In order to better understand this, I will equate the situation with an example. Suppose that we are debating whether it should be legal for citizens that are over 18, have 3 siblings, and are of the male sex to join the army. A debater could not be allowed to change one of the qualifications, for that would change the resolution of the debate. I accepted the debate based on the qualifications presented in R1. For Pro to limit QI by changing qualifications does not affirm the resolution. Logically, Pro would reduce in quantity or extent QI by allowing more citizens to sue for damages against qualifying police officers. Pro has not presented a plan for which citizens would be allowed to sue qualifying policemen.

Morality v Justice
Pro argues that I provide “no analysis to support his assertion that morality is commonly understood as something that allows us to decide what is just.” Morality is commonly understood as something that allows entities to determine what is just because the definition of just is “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” (Google)

Pro’s latter analysis here ignores what I said last round. I refer the reader back to what I said last round under the same heading.

Role Morality
The argument that Pro makes here is for a utilitarian court system: a system in which the verdict is not determined by whether one broke a crime but rather what the public wants the verdict to be.

This perspective on the role of the court system in governance is immature. The purpose of a government is to ensure life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. A democracy is essential in suppressing tyrannous governments; and a democracy obviously entails majority rule. Yet this majority rule is not absolute. If majority rule were absolute then it would allow for fundamental human rights to be violated. This would therefore negate the purpose of a government existence. This is why absolute majority rule cannot justly exist when a government exists. A balance of “majority rule and minority rights” is necessary. As Alexis de Tocqueville writes in Democracy in America,

“If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by
wronging his adversaries, why should not a majority be liable to the same reproach? Men do
not change their characters by uniting with one another; nor does their patience in the presence
of obstacles increase with their strength. For my own part, I cannot believe it; the power to do
everything which I should refuse to one of my equals, I will never grant to any number of them.”

Now that it is established that objective minority rights must exist immune from majority rule, the role of the court system comes in. As courts naturally evaluate whether or not a right has been violated, court immunity from majority interest is necessary. For this reason, the public interest must not exist in a court system. A judicial system that places no value on the sanctity of law is an unjust one. This debate cannot be evaluated on Pro’s criteria.

The argument about the court entering a social contract does not work because the conclusion that Pro draws is not necessarily true. Pro argues that citizens pay taxes to the government, and thus government entities must reciprocate. The conclusion is that courts must reciprocate in ensuring social welfare. This logic does not necessitate a court acting on a utilitarian basis though. If the courts must reciprocate, wouldn’t reciprocity be better paid in ensuring human rights against tyranny than in their temporal interests? I already explained why courts validate the existence of a government. A court would reciprocate society better in this role than in public interest. Pro’s own premises support my value.

Catch 22
This argument only has impact if Pro is allowed to change the R1 definition of QI so that it conforms to his plan. Pro cannot change the R1 definitions, thus this argument cannot have impact.

Immunizing the Government
Pro argues, “Hayd seems to concede that his logic would preclude all lawsuits against the government. Do not allow him to back track on this--otherwise he can unfairly shift the goalposts.”

QI (or absolute immunity) already precludes all civil suits against most government agencies in the status quo. This is true in theory and in reality.

Pro then gives three reasons for why criminal lawsuits are not good enough to check government wrongdoing. I will respond to each in turn.

I. Pro first argues that in the case of criminal lawsuits, the government is policing itself. This is technically true, in that the Department of Justice—a government agency—evaluates police misconduct reports to decide if a wrongdoing occurred. But the DOJ is a separate agency. It is a part of the federal government, of the executive branch. Police departments are municipal governments. Separation of powers is an essential part of how the legal system checks corruption. There is not a need for civilians to check police brutality when the DOJ already does so. Pro has provided no reasons for why the DOJ would not successfully prosecute bad cops. The DOJ and local police departments don’t share any common goals or interests; no issues are evident. The DOJ is checked by investigation agencies that ensure that no corruption or wrongdoing takes place. Because there is no need for civilians to check police misconduct because of existence of DOJ, this point has no impact.

II. Pro argues that civil trials have lower burdens of proof, and thus will lead to more convictions and greater deterrence. The problem with that is that deterrence only works if it convicts the right people. Having a low burden of proof allows innocent people to be convicted, which does more harm than good. Policemen risk their lives for the welfare of the communities they serve in. It is unjust to purposely convict innocent policemen on tenuous evidence in order to deter government wrongdoing that is already checked by the DOJ.

III. The DOJ brings criminal lawsuits against all forms of substantiated misconduct. Thus this is still deterred on my side.

“Hayd also never responds to the idea that suing even for non-monetary compensation (or even filing a criminal case) might be unfair to taxpayers, since their money would be going to pay for the government's legal fees.”

I argue that judicial policy ought to operate based off of justice. I described justice as fairness, equality, and equity. It is unfair to punish taxpayers for the brutality of police officers, as one can only be justly punished for an action that they did. This is why the resolution must be negated. But Pro brings up a good point; taxpayers are also punished on my side in that they have to pay for the legal fees for a government to bring a criminal case against a police officer.

This argument does not work for the reason that taxpayers are punished for this on both sides of the debate; Pro never made a plan to disallow criminal suits on his side. Although this violates justice according to my logic, this is not unique to my side; there is equal violation of justice on both sides. Yet, Pro’s side overall contains more violation of justice because it necessarily allows more punishment to the taxpayers (due to damages.) Because more justice is violated on the affirming side, the judges must negate. The only way that Pro can win this point is if he makes a plan not to allow criminal prosecution of police officers. He has not, thus this point is negated.

Where is Pro’s source that legislatures allocate less funds for police departments who lose lawsuits? What reason do we have to believe that criminal lawsuits cannot fulfill this role just as well? This argument has no impact if it does not prove the prior link. It doesn’t and thus doesn’t work.

Taxation and Charity
Because taxation is based largely on income tax, the amount of taxes collected is also susceptible to ups and downs.

Feasibility and Framing
Yes, I did post the sources in the comments. My bad, the sources from last round are now contained in the debate as I post them at the end of this round response. I used no sources from this round, so those sources will correspond to last round.

Abusive officers are still “shielded” in Pro’s world in that they don’t pay the compensation money to the victims. The police department does, which gets its money from the taxpayers.

Debate Round No. 4


Thanks to Hayd for the debate!

I. Housekeeping

Con cannot respond to any arguments which he dropped, conceded, or otherwise failed to respond to in this last round, insofar as the rules prohibit new arguments. Judges should disregard any and all new arguments.

II. Framework

A. Topicality

Con did not directly respond to my analysis from last round. My analysis was: "Let's substitute the definition of limit and part of the definition for QI for those words in the resolution. If we do that, this is what we get: 'The United States ought to reduce in quantity or extent the legal doctrine which protects government officials from lawsuits.'...[W]hat this shows is that we are reducing the extent of the legal doctrine which protects police officers, implying that it should be easier to deny them QI and that some changes to how QI works are required to affirm." Con needed to directly rebut this analysis, because his analysis has not disputed that when you input the definitions themselves into the resolution, the output is my interpretation. Any attempt to directly refute this argument, including the conclusion that I argued flowed from it, would be new. Moreover, Con says that QI is absolute. So, literally the only way I can affirm is to change that absoluteness, which is to alter the QI doctrine itself. You cannot limit that which is categorical.

Therefore, this debate is precisely about what QI should be (should it be a more limited doctrine, or an absolute one), which is why his sibling example fails. This is also why altering QI does not change the debate topic.

Finally, Con's position was never clearly justified or explained until last round. This left me with little time to address his exact interpretation. Thus, on fairness and clarity grounds, you should prefer my interpretation.

B. Morality v. Justice

Con originally (see R2) explained that justice is "fairness, equality, and equity." Do not allow him to suddenly redefine what justice is simply to dodge my rebuttal. This is unfair because I was operating under the assumption that justice was what he originally said it was. In his R3, he offered no proof of why morality entailed justice. He should have worked within the confines of his original definition (maybe making a philosophical argument that something could not be moral if it were not fair, which wouldn't have altered the definition of justice). He is reinterpreting his own standard to sidestep my response to it--this is a clear shifting the goalposts fallacy.

Even if you don't buy that, the Google definition is still wrong. There is certainly a logical disjunction between morality and justice, per my dropped utilitarianism example. Suppose X is an action which benefits the greatest number but involved theft. A utilitarian might agree that X was unfair, but still argue that it was morally right. The fact that we can make such conceptual distinction is evidence against the idea that the concepts envelope one another. Don't let an appeal to authority blind you to logic.

C. Role Morality

Con's arguments about minority rights beg the question, because they presuppose a justice-based framework. These arguments only make sense if we are prioritizing fairness over the welfare of the majority. Hayd cannot use arguments which assume fairness's value to justify fairness's value.

Then, Con goes on to make a new argument against a point he previously dropped. Drops should be treated as concessions, and voters should disregard Con's point. Even if you don't disregard it, there are three more reasons to prefer my standard. Firstly, I said I preferred court systems which are generally fair, because I think that encourages social stability, but I do not think fairness is the overriding objective, and can be set aside in cases where there are substantial concerns about how a verdict may negatively impact the society. So, I am not sure how Con is getting tyranny offense of my advocacy, since my court system would still be largely fair. Secondly, Con doesn't give you any reason why reciprocating in terms of human rights is better than in terms of promoting the general welfare. Society at large is the one paying taxes. Society at large is the jury population. Society at large has the cultural connections to the country. So, it is society at large and its welfare (i.e. the general welfare) with which the court should concern itself. Con hasn't been able to dissect this logic. Thirdly, Con drops that he has no clear interpretation of justice and that I have a clear interpretation of morality.

III. Cases

A. My Case

Con drops my entire case, including my defense of the catch-22, my solvency, and my links to justice.

B. Immunizing

1. Self-Policing

Con puts all his eggs into the DOJ basket. Firstly, in 2008, there were 16,000 law enforcement agencies in the US. [2] It is highly unlikely that the DOJ can effectively police and investigate all of these agencies to quickly and efficiently detect and correct malfeasance. Secondly, the DOJ is subject to the political leanings of the AG. A more hands-off or pro-police AG may be less likely to intervene when allegations of misconduct reach his or her desk. I doubt, for instance, Sessions is going to pursue civil rights complaints as seriously as Lynch did. External actors suing is necessary to keep departments in check. The government shouldn't be trusted (nor is it always able) to police itself.

2. BOP

No one is talking about purposely convicting innocent officers (I screen out frivolous suits with QI as well). A civil conviction does not result in the same kind of loss of rights and freedoms that a criminal trial results in. Civil juries can't throw you in prison or give you a felony that could deny you the right to vote. This is a worthwhile trade-off: there are still legal protections in place for defendants and the penalties aren't generally as severe, but it is easier to hold the government accountable for misconduct with lawsuits.

B. Charities

1. Impunity

I think that legislatures are less likely to allocate funds for agencies riven by scandal and lawsuits is self-evident. Legislators do not want to be tainted by the scandals of the agency, and it makes good political theater to be seen as punishing scandal-shrouded agencies. This logic is my warrant.

Con drops that damages (not just legislatures) can cut into agency budgets and that agencies have an interest in preserving their budgets (i.e. not getting sued). And, for reasons noted earlier, (1) criminal proceedings don't work as effectively as lawsuits at checking the government and (2) the government can be left to police itself.

2. Taxation and Charity

Con drops that charities cannot pay every single victim and that only in my world can there be compulsory compensation for victims. This is a fairness issue.

3. Feasibility and Framing

Police departments are certainly shielded, since charities would be paying for their mistakes and since the damages wouldn't be subtracted from the department's budget for that year.

4. Drops

Even if you buy that Con is winning the arguments on charity, the fact that he dropped the "even if: perm" argument means that none of this matters. If you buy charity, than I perm (which means to "also do" in debate-speak) his offense.

Moreover, the "charity discussion premature" argument, which Con also dropped, preempts his charity arguments. It doesn't matter if he pays with charity if the people who deserve compensation are being denied it because of QI. Con cannot rebut either of these arguments at this stage.

IV. Voting Issues

A. Topicality

    • I am winning the topicality debate. When you input the definitions themselves into the topic, we clearly see that Pros are limiting the extent of the legal doctrine which protects police officers. That is to say, Pros must do something to the doctrine itself. Also, the fact that QI is absolute implies that Pros must change that (and thus the doctrine itself) to limit. Therefore, my interpretation of the resolution best fits the terms of the debate.

B. Framework

    • I am winning the framework debate. I have shown that the resolution is asking a question of morality. An "ought" statement can only be answered by appealing to moral arguments. I have also shown that morality and justice are conceptually distinct. This means that Con cannot link to the resolution with a case based on justice, because morality and justice are not the same. So, you should accept my standard for three reasons: (1) it is less vague than Con's, (2) it is justified by the idea of reciprocity which I expounded upon earlier, and, most importantly, (3) it is the only one that can address the resolution.

C. Linkage

    • I am winning on linkage and weighing. Hayd makes no attempt to connect specific arguments of his to morality; do not allow him to do this in the final round, as I would have no chance to respond. If morality is the standard, then Con's arguments carry zero weight because no links were drawn. Conversely, I do link into Justice and Morality. I showed in R4 how each argument in my case linked to justice. Con dropped my case and did not dispute that it linked into his framework. I also showed how I linked into morality via promoting the general welfare. If Justice is the standard, I outweigh, since (1) I can co-opt all of Con's charity arguments, (2) my case stands, (3) Con dropped my mitigation of his indemnity offense, and (4) I best check government abuse.
    • Thus, even if you're skeptical of my topicality but you accept my morality standard, Con doesn't weigh at all. In that case, the best you can do is tie. If you think my interpretation is, at least, fair or, at most, the better of the two, then it is an easy Pro vote under either standard. I am clearly garnering the most offense in the debate.

V. Sources

1 -
2 -

Thus, I affirm. Thanks again to Hayd and the readers. Please VOTE PRO!


I find that most of what needs to be said in this debate has already been said. Most of what can and will be said in R5 is simply rehashing. Thus, my responses in this round will be very brief. I will include an appeal to the judges at the end of my response to summarize what I have argued for in this debate and why I should win. Thank you.

What I have argued is that Pro cannot limit the qualifications for immunity, because that would change the nature of the debate. Pro argues that, "the only way I can affirm is to change that absoluteness, which is to alter the QI doctrine itself. You cannot limit that which is categorical." Pro can limit QI by allowing citizens to sue police officers that have qualified for immunity. This would reduce the extent in which QI exists and influences society, and thus would be a valid way to affirm the resolution. The claim that Pro made arguing that the only way to affirm the resolution was to limit the qualifications is simply false.

Morality v Justice
Pro argues that I gave no proof for why morality entailed justice in R3, and that I shifted the goalposts by reinterpreting my definition of justice to defeat Pro's rebuttal. I ask the judges, was there any point in the debate when my perspective of justice changed from my R2 definition of fairness, equality, and equity? There is not. Pro made the argument that the value of justice is not fit to evaluate the resolution because "ought" requires moral consideration; not evaluation under justice. I answered this by arguing that any just government would evaluate the resolution under justice; it is morally desirable for governments to evaluate the issue under justice. This is not shifting the goalposts, this is a valid response.

Pro's logic here in the second paragraph ignores the argument that I made detailing how the only way for a just government to exist is to have a court system working under justice. Even if the judge accepts the utilitarian moral theory, who better affirms it? I allow a government to exist, and thus protect a society against the evils allowed by a state of nature. Pro's value of morality proves that justice ought to be the value.

Self Policing
Pro makes a new argument about the ineffectiveness of DOJ. This was never made in any of the previous rounds and thus must be discarded.

Pro argues that the consequences of civil suits aren't as severe. Thus that civilians still have protections against government and punishments for police officers aren't as bad, resulting in checking government misconduct. This ignores the fact that criminal lawsuits check government corruption just as well as civilian ones. The reasoning for this comes from the burden of proof level involved.

Pro argues that civilian lawsuits have a lower burden of proof, thus meaning that more police officers will be successfully sued. But where do these "more" police officers come from? With a criminal lawsuit, the court must know "beyond any doubt" that a policeman was guilty. This means that close to zero police officers are wrongly convicted, and that almost all guilty police officers are convicted (Pro has made no argument that guilty police officers would not be convicted criminally.) If all of the guilty police officers are already convicted in criminal lawsuits, why are there "more" policemen that are successfully sued for damages? The answer is that all of the ones that Pro punishes more than mine in criminal lawsuits are innocent.

Now, Pro argues that the "civil conviction" does not contain as extensive punishment as a criminal one. Does this mean that the judges are supposed to accept the wrongful civil conviction of police officers for the reason that the punishment isn't *that* bad? And that this is done for the reason to give protections to civilians to check police misconduct? Nonsense, there is no reason to believe that the DOJ will not prosecute all guilty police officers, thus providing more than adequate deterrence. Any extra deterrence by convicting innocent police officers is madness. As I argued last round, "Policemen risk their lives for the welfare of the communities they serve in. It is unjust to purposely convict innocent policemen on tenuous evidence in order to deter government wrongdoing that is already checked by the DOJ."

This argument cannot be accepted by the judges.

Pro argues that legislatures will not allocate funds to misconduct ridden police departments because it would look bad politically. Besides the fact that it would look terrible politically to cut law enforcement funding when crime is one of the top political issues that people campaign on, Pro gives no reason for why criminal lawuits cannot achieve the same affect.

Taxation and Charity
Charities would compensate all victims because forgetting one family would result in them losing the majority of their funds and thus falling out of existence.

Feasibility and Framing
Pro has never argued that damages would be subtracted from the departments budget for that year. Even if this were true, Pro provides no warrant; a bare assertion. Furthermore, it does not make sense because a politician that would cut law enforcement budget would commit political suicide.

Summary and Conclusion
I have proven that it is morally desirable for the US to evaluate the judicial policy of QI under justice. Thus, what the US ought to do in this matter is concerned with what better affirms justice. Both sides force taxpayers to pay for criminal lawsuits against police officers. Because both sides contain this issue, judges cannot use this to come to a decision. Pro's side allows for innocent police officers to be civilly convicted in order to deter police misconduct, which is already sucessfully deterred by DOJ criminal lawsuits. This grossly violates justice. Pro's side forces taxpayers be punished for police brutality. Punishing those for a crime that they did not commit grossly violates justice. Every argument that Pro has brought up depends on a false resolution, or on a value of utilitarianism. I have shown that utilitarianism has no place in courts due to the principle of minority rights against majority rule. Thus, my arguments are the only valid ones. Therefore, the judges ought to vote to negate the resolution that the US ought to have limited qualified immunity. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 5
146 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by FourTrouble 2 years ago
The comments below weren't addressed to YYW. To the contrary, I was providing the debaters with specific feedback on some of the arguments made in the debate.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
lol FT doesn't give up.... and he is still wrong here, for the same reasons he was wrong in the thread of my RFD, although there is articulated his points more coherently than here.

Fun times.
Posted by FourTrouble 2 years ago
Hayd's notion that "qualified immunity" or "X" is a constant also misses the point of the debate, which is about "limiting" that purported constant. To limit implies some sort of change. The issue is that "limit" obviously doesn't imply a complete transformation, and that's how Hayd should have focused that specific argument. You can't say, "Pro's argument is irrelevant because he's changing the definition of qualified immunity." What Hayd needed to say is, "Pro's argument is irrelevant because he's completely transforming the definition of qualified immunity beyond recognition, to the point where it cannot reasonably be called qualified immunity anymore." That's obviously a weak argument on the "catch-22" front, since bsh1's plan wasn't that dramatic a change (and in fact, has lots of historical support in earlier versions of qualified immunity).

Instead, Hayd should have made that argument in relation to bsh1's plan of "forcing discovery to take place." That's the sort of transformation that would upend the entire process of litigation -- the rules of civil procedure -- and that's the sort of transformation you could reasonably argue isn't allowed by the definition, as qualified immunity would no longer be a defense at the pleading stage but something that could be raised at any point prior to trial. It would also defeat the entire purpose underlying qualified immunity in the first place, which is to prevent the massive expense involved with discovery for non-meritorious claims.
Posted by FourTrouble 2 years ago
The biggest problem in this debate -- on both sides -- is that neither of you put qualified immunity into context in a way that helps judges understand your position.

The Supreme Court has expanded qualified immunity in the past 10 years. I discuss some of that in YYW's thread. The point, though, is that explaining that context, explaining how the doctrine has changed over the years, gives judges a clearer sense of what a limited qualified immunity looks like in comparison with an expansive qualified immunity. Neither side did this, and that makes reading/judging this debate incredibly difficult.

bsh1's argument, in many ways, reflects what qualified immunity has looked like at certain points in its history, prior to the Roberts Court's dramatic expansion of the doctrine. bsh1 should have explained as much, thus showing how his position limits qualified immunity in comparison with the status quo. That would have allowed bsh1 to argue why those limits are preferable, and that would have given his argument much more persuasive force. It also would have prevented YYW's idiotic "topicality" concern.

Hayd's argument doesn't get into the details, and that too was a mistake on his part. He missed an opportunity to explain why an expansive version of qualified immunity (e.g. something akin to what we have in the status quo) would benefit society as a whole. It also led him to frame his responses in largely procedural terms (e.g. arguing definitions, topicality, etc) instead of the substantive issue at stake. This obviously weakened his argument, as the votes show. It took emphasis away from his main point: how to allocate taxpayer dollars. Also, Hayd's notion of an "unlimited qualified immunity" is meaningless without context, as I can't know what an "unlimited" X is without knowing what "X" is. Hayd's responses sometimes confuse absolute immunity with qualified immunity, in a confusing way that weakens his arguments.
Posted by FourTrouble 2 years ago
bsh1 botched his response to Hayd's argument. bsh1 should have tied this to the history of qualified immunity, as the approach outlined below is how courts used to approach qualified immunity, under the same exact definition provided by bsh1 in R1, before the Roberts Court fvcked things up. That would have completely negated Hayd's argument.

The reason this should win bsh1 the debate is because having better clarity about the law, and about what police officers are allowed to do, is the sort of benefit that Hayd can't possibly deny, nor could he possibly outweigh it in the big picture.
Posted by FourTrouble 2 years ago
The way bsh1 addressed the "catch-22" in this debate was really weak. It should be the winning argument for Pro here, as explained below:

Pro should argue that to defeat immunity, per the definition in R1, you must meet two elements: show that there was a constitutional violation, and show that the law was clearly established. There are two ways that courts could approach these elements: (1) courts could be required to first show there was a constitutional violation, and then show that the law was clearly established, or (2) they could first be required to show the law was clearly established, and only then show that there was a constitutional violation.

If the first approach is adopted, it would limit qualified immunity, because it would result in more laws becoming clearly established, and if more laws are clearly established, you've effectively limited qualified immunity.

If the second approach is adopted, you've expanded qualified immunity, again, for the reasons above.

That's how the "catch-22" issue should have been discussed. bsh1's approach was poor. Hayd's response was wrong -- it's not irrelevant -- but bsh1's approach didn't make that nearly clear enough, nor did he approach it in a way that clearly tied it to the definition in R1, which he shoudl have done.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Yes, please, Danielle. We'd both appreciate your feedback.
Posted by Hayd 2 years ago
Posted by Danielle 2 years ago
Should I still post my RFD?
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
I mean qualified immunity is limited that is why it is called qualified, and absolute immunity is absolute so... Are we talking about limited and unlimited in some other context?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD given here:
Vote Placed by warren42 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Great debate. Like I said in the RFD if there are questions feel free to ask via PM, commenting on my profile, or in the thread.

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