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Resolved: Public colleges in the U.S. ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2017 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 2,802 times Debate No: 100471
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
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It would be great if we can run a LD style debate as I need to prepare for my qualifiers. When you are ready, please respond with your position and we can start shortly after.

I affirm Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

According to [American Heritage Dictionary], Speech is defined as “The faculty or act of expressing or describing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words.”

Public is defined as “Maintained for or used by the people or community”

And according to Legal Definitions, constitutionally protected “refers to those basic protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The protection enshrined in the constitution are part of those protection enshrined in the Bill of Rights.”

The value is Justice.

My value criterion is abiding by the U.S. constitution.

I prefer this standard for the following reasons.

  1. The constitution offers a guideline for demeanor without a proper set of rules, we would be in anarchy.

Barnett ‘88

[Moreover, this assumption views legal precepts as distinct from and at least sometimes opposed to the requirements of justice. However, the analysis presented here offers a quite different picture of this relationship. Justice, at least in its first derivation, is extremely abstract and general. For justice to be brought to bear effectively on individual decision, specific legal precepts are needed to guide conduct. Such precepts are the necessary means by which just results or ends are to be achieved in practice, and they are also the means by which persons decide how to act justly so as to avoid a dispute that requires resolution. Most importantly, perhaps, this objection to the use of legal precepts assumes that persons deciding how to act or judges deciding how to resolve a dispute have access (independent of legal precepts) to a conception of justice that is specific enough to decide the outcomes of disputes.]

  1. The constitution protects all bodies; this includes minorities.

OTPIC, 05’

[Usually, these mechanisms involve constitutional protections of rights of all citizens. Parliamentary systems, which give minority groups representation, rather than giving complete power to the group that wins 51% of the vote is also a way to increase the power of minority groups. Another important mechanism for protecting minority rights is the use of political subdivisions***.Here the idea is to divide the larger society into a number of highly homogeneous political subdivisions without significant minority groups. These divisions are then granted as much autonomy and home rule as possible. ]

***Here the idea is to divide the larger society into a number of highly homogeneous political subdivisions without significant minority groups. These divisions are then granted as much autonomy and home rule as possible.

  1. This framework acts as a side constraint because the constitution determines whether other actions can be performed or whether they violate it.

Levinson, 00’

[Extending a majority rule analysis of optimal deterrence to constitutional torts requires some explanation, for we do not usually think of violations of constitutional rights in terms of cost-benefit analysis and efficiency. Quite the opposite, constitutional rights are most commonly conceived as deontological side-constraints that trump even utility-maximizing government action. Alternatively,constitutional rights might be understood as serving rule-utilitarian purposes. Ifthe disutility to victims of constitutional violations often exceeds the social benefits derived from the rights-violating activity, or if rights violations create long-term costs that outweigh short-term social benefits, then constitutional rights can be justified as tending to maximize global utility, even though this requires local utility-decreasing steps. Both the deontological and rule-utilitarian descriptions imply that the optimal level of constitutional violations is zero; that is, society would be better off, by whatever measure, if constitutional rights were never violated.]


[Restricting speech does not maximize well being, it only causes oppression to minorities and oppression can only be minimized through allowing speech or more rights. **]

**if we want to maximize well being and minimize oppression, freedom of speech on college campuses cannot be restricted.

UNDP, 10’

[The poorest communities in almost any region tend to be minority communities that have been targets of long-standing discrimination, exclusion and sometimes violence.This is true of the least developed countries, but also of the most developed. A key message of my work as Independent Expert on minority issues since July 2005 has been that poverty within minority communities must be viewed as both a cause and a manifestation of the diminished rights, opportunities, and social advancement available to the members of those communities. If poverty reduction initiatives and efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to benefit minorities, more coherent efforts and targeted strategies are required that address directly the plight of disadvantaged minorities.]

[If you silence racists, then you silence minorities in the process. Minorities deserve their opinions to be heard, and following the status quo completely restricts this, leading to the oppression of minorities. And minorities aren’t just African Americans or Latinos, it's those with a different opinion, those who fight for equality and justice. So, you can’t just silence one and not the other, which is why the current status quo is ineffective.]


[According to the Theories of Constitutional Interpretation, originalism preserves the authority of the court. Following originalism and adhering to the constitution would be most ideal in this resolution because there’s nothing special in colleges that allow them to limit speech. Why can speech be limited on campuses when it’s not allowed in other places?]

Brennan, 83’

[“The Court makes no pretense of subjecting Nebraska's practice of legislative prayer to any of the formal "tests" that have traditionally structured our inquiry under the Establishment Clause. That it fails to do so is, in a sense, a good thing, for it simply confirms that the Court is carving out an exception to the Establishment Clause, rather than reshaping Establishment Clause doctrine to accommodate legislative prayer. For my purposes, however, I must begin by demonstrating what should be obvious: that, if the Court were to judge legislative prayer through the unsentimental eye of our settled doctrine, it would have to strike it down as a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.”]

[Public colleges are obliged by the law to not limit the freedom of speech, following the guidelines of the constitution would only benefit its people since the U.S. constitution is created for the people. By allowing college to limit speech, not only is it unconstitutional, but it also has to be questioned why colleges specifically are allowed to limit rights, while in other places, it’s simply illegal.]


[Suppressing speech on college campus means that student’s rights are being violated and their 1st amendment is being violated*. Doing the AFF ensures that no one is being suppressed. In order to stop oppression or any other issue, the guidelines of the constitution must first be strictly followed. Which is why allowing speech is good because colleges educate, A college that’s teaching its students that they are allowed to shut other people up because their ideas differentiate would be deemed as a bad college.]


[“University campuses are now home to a plethora of speech restrictions. From sidewalk-sized “free-speech zones” to the criminalization of microaggressions, America’s college campuses look and feel a lot more like an authoritarian dictatorship than they do the academic hubs of the modern free world. When rolling an inflated free-speech ball around campus, students at the University of Delaware were halted by campus police for their activities. A Young Americans for Liberty leader at Fairmont State University in West Virginia was confronted by security when he was attempting to speak with other students about the ideas he believes in.A man at Clemson University was barred from praying on campus because he was outside of the free-speech zone. And a student at Blinn College in Texas abolished her campus’ free-speech zone in a lawsuit after administrators demanded she seek special permission to advocate for self-defense. How have we let this happen in America, the land of the free? It’s because of what our universities have taught a generation of Americans: If you don’t agree with someone, are uncomfortable with an idea, or don’t find a joke funny, then their speech must be suppressed.Especially if they don’t politically agree with you. Instead of actually debating ideas that span topics from the conventional to the taboo, a generation of American students don’t engage, they just get enraged. In doing so, many students believe that they have a right to literally shut other people up. This is not only a threat to the First Amendment, but also to American democracy.”]

[From this, it can clearly be seen that the student’s religions, ideas and most importantly, speech is being suppressed, when someone’s ideas are being suppressed, they are being oppressed. In order for ideas to be exchanged freely in the marketplace of ideas outside of camps, ideas must be allowed inside campus. Restricting speech nullifies a vital part of colleges and universities because university are meant for educating its students, what is the means of educating when in the end, the students are not allowed to express their ideas?]

Therefore: I affirm


I negate the resolution, Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

To provide clarity for the round I offer the following definitions:
Public Colleges and Universities- A university or college that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government.
Ought- A moral duty or obligation
Restrict- put a limit on; to keep under control.
Any- used to indicate one or many
Constitutionally Protected Speech- The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction.

My Value for the round will be Equality and is defined as, "the right of different groups of people to receive the same treatment, regardless of race, sex, religion, etc."

My Value Criterion for the round is Rule Utilitarianism and is defined by, "an action is right as it conforms to a rule that leads to the greatest good"the correctness of a rule is determined by the amount of good it brings about when followed."

My First contention is that College students want to implement speech codes and restrictions. According to licensed clinical social worker, Melissa Cohen, "34% of college students report feeling depressed at least at one point within the last 90 days." Brian Mullen, Ph.D., and Joshua M. Smyth, Ph.D. state, "The correlation between hate speech and suicide rates remains constant." Timothy Jay from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts states, "Legal scholars advance a harm thesis, that offensive utterances harm people the same way that physical blows do" Offensive words comprise, but are not limited to, categories of obscenity, indecency, profanity, racial insults, taboos, and scatology. Opposing views raise the question: When do offensive words harm people?" Under further research, it concluded that the offensive words included hate speech." Depression and suicide remain constant with hate speech. Also, according to, Catherine Rampell from, "The Washington Post," "About 71% of [college] freshmen surveyed in the fall said they agree with the statement that "colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus."" That more than half of college freshmen who want restrictions. "[Also,] student groups from at least 76 schools have now issued their own suggestions"[many of which] involved speech codes." Heather Sells, from "CBN News," states, "At Yale, the University of Missouri, and elsewhere students are increasingly concerned about what they consider offensive. [Students are] calling for more rules to limit what students can say." Since the majority of the students want restrictions and speech codes, it relates directly back to my value criterion.

My Second contention is that restrictions decrease racial discrimination. Not only do students want restrictions, but they also help with the problem of racism. Scott Jaschik, from "Inside Higher Education" tells of multiple incidents, in which could have been resolved if speech codes were implemented at that time. At Ohio University, they created a "free speech" wall, where students could write whatever they wanted except hate speech. However, racist comments, bullying, and many other things where written on the wall. At the State University of New York at Brockport, the words "African Americans deserved to die" except it used more explicit language, was written on a public whiteboard in a dormitory that houses many minority students. At Eastern Michigan University, posters with the letters KKK and racial slurs were found on several buildings. Speech codes help promote equality for all, regardless of race.

I will now move on to attacking my opponent's case

My opponent uses the value of justice, and the dictionary defines it as, "the quality of being just" however this flows better to the negative side since minorities are being harmed through verbal abuse. If public colleges restrict speech than it will only worsen the bullying. As I stated earlier, " offensive utterances harm people the same way that physical blows do." Meaning for the minorities-sake, the U.S. simply cannot drop speech codes.

My opponent uses the value criterion of abiding by the U.S. constitution, however the constitution is outdated. According to Terry M. Moe and William G. Howell from, "Hoover Institution", "the ultimate problem is the Constitution itself. The founders crafted a government 225 years ago for a simple agrarian society of just four million people, some 700,000 of whom were slaves." The constitution was made in a time which had a different culture. Now, I'm not stating that we should totally obliterate free speech as a whole, but amend the constitution to save those in public colleges whom are committing suicide due to hate speech.

My opponent's first contention is the oppression of minorities, however as I have stated earlier that these minorities are being verbally abused through the practice of total free speech on college campuses. There was an instance in which a college student, Tyler Clementi, was marginalized for his sexuality because of free speech; he later had committed suicide. Free speech will only worsen the current oppression of minorities.

My opponent's second contention is along the lines of there's nothing special in colleges that allow them to limit speech. However, there are problems on colleges with free speech, that need to be fixed. I stated earlier that, "At Yale, the University of Missouri, and elsewhere students are increasingly concerned about what they consider offensive. [Students are] calling for more rules to limit what students can say." Meaning that it give colleges the right to limit speech if it benefits the campus as a whole.

Moving on, my opponent's final contention is, "Suppressing speech on college campus means that student"s rights are being violated and their 1st amendment is being violated", however, as I state again that the constitution is outdated and needs to be amended. The culture and society over 200 years ago is different than it is today.

Thank you.

Debate Round No. 1


I will do extensions then move on to rebut the Neg case.


Extend contention 1:

Limiting speech causes the chilling effect. Speech is chilled because of uncertainty as to what speech is or is not allowed.

Majeed, 09’ explains that

[Speech codes are vague, and students and administrators must guess how far they extend. Students are so fearful of violating the code that they self-censor. This prevents crucial discussion from taking place and ideas from being shared.]

Extending contention 2 which states that originalist ideas and adhering to the constitution is good and readdressing it with more reasons:

Linder ‘16

[1. Originalism reduces the likelihood that unelected judges will seize the reigns of power from elected representatives.
2. Originalism in the long run better preserves the authority of the Court.
3. Non-originalism allows too much room for judges to impose their own subjective and elitist values. Judges need neutral, objective criteria to make legitimate decisions. The understanding of the framers and ratifiers of a constitutional clause provide those neutral criteria.
4. Lochner vs. New York (widely considered to be a bad non-originalist decision).
5. Leaving it to the people to amend their Constitution when need be promotes serious public debate about government and its limitations.
6. Originalism better respects the notion of the Constitution as a binding contract.
7. If a constitutional amendment passed today, we would expect a court five years from now to ask what we intended to adopt. [Can the same be said for a court 100 or 200 years from now?]

Extend contention 3 and stating that: By suppressing speech, public colleges are being unconstitutional and anti-democratic by violating the first amendment.

Sevcenko ‘15

When Blinn College administrators enforced their unconstitutional rules against Nicole, she fought back by becoming the 10th plaintiff in FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, which helps students and faculty file civil rights lawsuits against their colleges and universities for violating their First Amendment rights. Public colleges such as Blinn are bound by the First Amendment. Administrators are government officials, and thus when they stop students from speaking out about issues they are passionate about— be they gun rights or gay rights —it’s unconstitutional censorship.

A public university is public, hence it should follow the constitution, as public schools are supported by the government. Blinn college had no right to restrict speech. Especially against minorities, like those advocating for gay rights, restricting speech is oppressive and unconstitutional. Only by allowing free speech on campuses can we solve this problem.

Moving on to Rebuttals:

My Opponent first offers the definition of Public colleges and ought, which fully copes with the AFF because it's under the social contract that public colleges and universities ought to oblige by the law. Please extend my contention 2 which states talks about the originalism idea. Public colleges are obliged by the law to not limit freedom of speech because they are public actors. When I questioned the NEG by asking why it's okay to restrict speech in PUBLIC colleges but not in any other setting, my opponent simply replied that the constitution is outdated. That response 1, does not provide any competition for the AFF because the Aff is advocating to follow the constitution in this very scenario, AFF never states that we cannot make amendments. Aff is advocating for the rights of individuals to be protected in college campuses. It's not in the Neg's place to argue that the constitution should be changed.

The role of the ballot is to vote for the side that provides the most solvency to the round, hence, AFF wins solvency because TURN the NEG's second contention which talks about how speech codes promote equality but:
While language has the POSSIBILITY to wound, the most effective counter to language’s ability to hurt is to recognize that language doesn’t do what it says. Exploiting the gap between language and reality opens the possibility to subvert injurious language. Restricting this language only reifies the effects of language.

Butler, ‘97

[on the basis of a grammatical analysis alone, appears to be no threat. But the threat emerges precisely through the act that the body performs in the speaking the act.The threat begins a temporal horizon within which the organizing aim is the act that is threatened; the threat begins the action by which the fulfillment of the threatened act might be achieved. And yet, a threat can be derailed, defused, can fail to furnish the act that it threatens. The threat states the impending certitude of another, forthcoming act, but the statement itself cannot produce that forthcoming act as one of its necessary effects.Such speech is, however, vulnerable to failure, and it is that vulnerability that must be exploited to counter the threat.Instead of obliterating the possibility of response, paralyzing the addressee with fear, the threat may well be countered by a different kind of performative act, to turn one part of that speaking against the other, confounding the performative power of the threat.]

[An example would be that if someone feels strongly about a topic, but is not allowed to publicly talk about it, then they would find other ways to enforce what they are trying to say by taking actions. Taking actions would actually backlash and cause an even greater harm to be done.]

Turn the NEG's first contention also because he provides that students want speech codes but:

1. Just because students want it doesn't mean it's good for them, take the example of when a high schooler are not doing well on a subject, so they want to copy off of someone else's homework, or exam. That doesn't fully develope into a good habit for that student if it's allowed. Sure it's what they want, but is it good for them?

2. Just how vague is the data my opponent is providing? Usually, a minority is targeted because they are numerically less than the majority, so what can my opponent say and how much does he know of whether those data are biased?

3. Doing the AFF will not only gain more popularity but will provide a more sensible resolution to hate speech.

Point A: Of course, by common sense, no one will want their rights taken away, after all, the U.S. is a democracy, and immigrants come from all over the world for these rights.

Point B: My opponent says that free speech is encouraging hate speech. But bringing hate speech into the spotlight is the best way to combat it.
ACLU ‘16

[Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, more speech -- not less -- is the best revenge. Speech codes are not the way to go on campuses, where all views are entitled to be heard, explored, supported or refuted. Besides, when hate is out in the open, people can see the problem.Then they can organize effectively to counter bad attitudes, possibly change them, and forge solidarity against the forces of intolerance.College administrators may find speech codes attractive as a quick fix, but as one critic put it: "Verbal purity is not social change." Codes that punish bigoted speech treat only the symptom: The problem itself is bigotry.The ACLU believes that instead of opting for gestures that only appear to cure the disease, universities have todo the hard work of recruitment to increase faculty and student diversity; counseling to raise awareness about bigotry and its history, and changing curricula to institutionalize more inclusive approaches to all subject matter.]

Framework debate:

My opponent refutes my value by saying how restricting speech helps people because it prevents discrimination, he also says how my value criterion doesn't work because the constitution is outdated. But please turn that because first,
Restricting the First Amendment doesn’t solve for racial intolerance.

Morrissey, 16’

[The touchstone of the First Amendment, and any of free society, is freedom of expression– no matter if the government or others may disagree. It allows for individual freedom of mind and places an important check on those in power.51 First Amendment oppression would set a dangerous precedent and is not the answer to any social intolerance. Freedom for the thought that we hate is often important to the discovery of truth because sometimes viewpoints change.52 Free speech and freedom of association are the tools that empower a minority – tools that must not be diminished.]

Freedom of speech helps minorities voice their opinions without it, minorities can’t be empowered to speak out about something they believe in. In addition, by setting a precedent to violate the amendment, it tells people that it’s ok to disregard laws.

As I talked about above, NEG is advocating for the people to disregard laws, which is totally not right. Allowing colleges to restrict hate speech, even though he says NEG is only restricting hate speech, still comes out to violating the 1st amendment. Which sets a dangerous precedent that violating the law is okay. The NEG-criterion is equality which fits into the AFF framework, making the AFF framework a prerequisite because only by abiding by the constitution can we achieve equality.

Therefore AFF wins framework.

All in all, my opponent advocates for change in the U.S. constitution because it's "outdated" but just because the law is old doesn't mean that student's rights should be violated on campus. I again presume an answer from my opponent to the question that "What is the means to be educated when in the end, you are not allowed to express your thoughts?" Public colleges are for education, and all NEG says is that hate speech disturbances education, but since I've already proved that codes don't work, there's no point of doing NEG.

Therefore, I urge you to please vote AFF.
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by LD_and_Congress_Debater 2 years ago
Sorry, I got grounded and couldn't post
Posted by Annie_Debate 2 years ago
I'm so sorry about the format of my rebuttal, I don't know why it's like that. To make it easier to read, just copy and paste the arg onto either google docs or Microsoft word. I cannot change it, I don't know what happened.
Posted by paintballvet18 2 years ago
I will vote on this debate when completed. Looking forward to it.
Posted by LD_and_Congress_Debater 2 years ago
I will gladly help with this considering I just got done with this topic
Posted by thebestdebate 2 years ago
Quite a mind you have. I cant wait to watch the debate.
Posted by paintballvet18 2 years ago
Not bad.
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