The Instigator
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0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Resolved: The Supreme Court rightly decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violated the Con

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,750 times Debate No: 48374
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Round 1: Present Case

Round 2: Rebuttal/Crossfire (For the CON; The CON can ask questions that the PRO must answer in Round 3.) (CON must answer PRO's questions in Round 2)

Round 3: Summary

Round 4: Final Focus

I affirm, Resolved: The Supreme Court rightly decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violated the Constitution.

First a few observations: The proactive burden of this debate falls upon the negative to overturn, or disprove, the Supreme Court"s ruling. This is because the decision has already been rendered and thus there is a greater burden of proof to show that the decision was rendered incorrectly. If at the end of the round, the negative team has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Section 4 is constitutional, you should vote affirmative and default to the status quo ruling. Moreover, in order to prove the ruling in the status quo, the Con must prove that it passes the tests of strict scrutiny, a form of judicial review that courts use to determine the constitutionality of certain laws, including section 4 of the VRA. In order to pass strict scrutiny, my opponents have the burden of proving that section 4 is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and must demonstrate that the legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve the intended result. If my opponents cannot prove strict scrutiny, then the round should default to us.

Contention 1: Section 4 is obsolete.

Subpoint A: It is no longer necessary to take away the sovereignty of the states in order to stop voter discrimination. According to Adam Liptak of the New York Times "The majority that held the coverage formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965, most recently updated by Congress in 1975, was unconstitutional. In the decision made by Chief Justice John Roberts, "Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned nationwide for over 40 years, and have not occurred in 40 years. And voter registration and turnout numbers in the covered States have risen dramatically in the years since. Racial disparity in those numbers was compelling evidence justifying the preclearance remedy and the coverage formula. There is no longer such a disparity. In 1965, the States could be divided into two groups: those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics. Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today, the Nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were. Thus, the sovereignty among states no longer has any sufficient reason to be violated.

Subpoint B: The court ruling protects section 5 and allows section 4 to be renewed. Section 5 is left in place so Congress can pass a new formula so long as it is responsive to current instances of voting discrimination. This means that Congress can pass a law that"s actually accurate and looks at instances of voter fraud that are occurring in the modern United States, and not instances that occurred 40 years ago. Because the formula was relevant in 1965, its continued use is permissible so long as any discrimination remains in the States identified in 1965. But this does not look to "current political condition, instead relying on a comparison between the states in 1965. But history did not end in 1965. In assessing the "current need" for a preclearance system treating States differently from one another today, history since 1965 cannot be ignored. The Fifteenth Amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future. To serve that purpose, Congress-if it is to divide the States-must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions.

Contention 2: The VRA violated the 10th amendment, and the PRECLEARANCE REQUIREMENT. In NAMUDNO, the Court fired unmistakable warnings at Congress that "past success alone" was no longer "adequate justification to retain the preclearance requirements." This too deprives the states of self governance. The 10th amendment states that all powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states. The VRA went against this. Chief Justice John Roberts states "The Voting Rights Act sharply departs from these basic principles. It suspends "all changes to state election law" however innocuous"until they have been precleared by federal authorities in Washington, D. C. The Attorney General has 60 days to object to a preclearance request, longer if he requests more information. If a State seeks preclearance from a three-judge court, the process can take years." He continues by saying "And despite the tradition of equal sovereignty, the Act applies to only nine States (and several additional counties). While one State waits months or years and expends funds to implement a validly enacted law, its neighbor can typically put the same law into effect immediately, through the normal legislative process. Even if a non-covered jurisdiction is sued, there are important differences between those proceedings and preclearance proceedings; the preclearance proceeding "not only switches the burden of proof to the supplicant jurisdiction, but also applies substantive standards quite different from those governing the rest of the nation." Thus, this proves that the Voting Rights act, namly section 4 violated the constitution, through the 10th amendment. Therefore the supreme court rightly decided that section 4 was unconstitutional.

Thus, I Affirm.


In 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, finally guaranteeing the right of political participation promised to minorities by the 15th Amendment. For nearly fifty years the Voting Rights Act has prevented widespread racial discrimination. In 2006 a Republican House of Representatives renewed the bill on a 390-33 vote, and the Senate renewed it by a 98-0 vote. Last spring the Supreme Court struck down the most important part of the bill, Section 4 " on a 5-4 decision. Because that decision was a severe setback for equality in America, I negate the resolution.

Resolved: The Supreme Court rightly decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violated the Constitution.

We have some definitions for today"s round:
rightly - For this resolution, it means that the results or the potential results of the decision are good
Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act - Southern states need to get approval before changing the way elections are held.

Our standard is constitutionality. The team that can best uphold the Constitution should win this round.

Now on to our points:

C1: Southern racism is alive.
Justice Ginsburg noted many examples of intentional discrimination " including a town in Georgia that, faced with a large number of black candidates for City Council, simply canceled the election.
Professor Sidney Rosdeitcher noted this year that:
( (By: Sidney Rosdeitcher) (January 3, 2014)

"Respondents detail the extensive record of racially discriminatory voting practices in the covered jurisdictions before Congress, that they maintain demonstrate "current needs" for the preclearance provision. This record shows, they maintain, that since 1982, approximately 2400 discriminatory voting changes had been blocked by more than 750 Section 5 objections and that without Section 5 these voting changes could have been challenged only through case-by-case litigation, a system that would have resulted in years of discriminatory treatment of minority voters pending the outcome of those litigations and would have required an enormous expenditure of resources.

IMPACT: Although the evidence talks about Section 5, it is still important because without Section 4, which provides the guidelines, Section 5, which provides the punishments, will be useless. The Court assumes violations don"t happen, but they do. With Section 4 abolished, these states are more likely to succeed. Since voting rights violations are in fact common, the federal government is constitutionally justified in continuing to use Section 4 to preserve equal protection.

C2: New voter ID laws will be passed.
Legal scholar Emma Greenman wrote on July 14, 2013 that:
( (By: Emma Greenman) (July 14, 2013)

"Take voter ID laws for starters. Until Shelby, Section 5 prevented covered states from implementing strict voter ID requirements that would depress minority turnout. Now freed of the federal government review, many of the formerly covered jurisdictions will go ahead with those laws to the determinant of minority voters. In fact, they already have. Hours after the ruling, Texas announced it is putting a strict voter ID law into effect. The law had been blocked by Section 5 because, as the D.C. federal court observed, it "imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty." And Texas is not alone. At last count, four more previously covered states are moving ahead with voter ID laws that will likely take effect before 2014 Congressional elections."

IMPACT: Without Section 4, minorities can"t vote because states are going to pass these Voter ID laws, which are barriers to registration and to voting. This is exactly what Section 4 was enacted to stop. The Constitution means nothing if it does not promise equal protection.

C3: Discriminatory gerrymandering, also called redistricting, will occur and violate rights.
The New York Times reported on February 2, 2013 that:
( (By: Sam Wang, The New York Times and associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, founder of the Princeton Election Consortium) (February 2, 2013)

Normally we would expect more seats in Congress to go to the political party that receives more votes, but the last election confounded expectations. Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. This is only the second such reversal since World War II...In North Carolina, where the two-party House vote was 51 percent Democratic, 49 percent Republican, the average simulated delegation was seven Democrats and six Republicans. The actual outcome? Four Democrats, nine Republicans " a split that occurred in less than 1 percent of simulations. If districts were drawn fairly, this lopsided discrepancy would hardly ever occur.

IMPACT: As we can see, even with the increase of Democratic minorities, Republicans received the political benefits because of redistricting, which makes minority votes ineffective as they are grouped with a large, mostly Republican population. They don"t have an impact on elections.

C4: Section 4 is constitutional because it protects the 14th and 15th amendments.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights said that:
( (By: The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy) (2011)

Congress has the power to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments by legislation. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is an example of legislation passed by Congress to enforce the anti-discrimination voting guarantees of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

IMPACT: The 14th and 15th Amendments explicitly state that Congress has the power to enforce laws that will protect voting rights. As we have proved before, Section 4 is important for minorities in the South. It protects their constitutional rights, and because of the harm that these people are now in, the Supreme Court"s decision was not right.

For these reasons, we strongly urge a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 1


I would first like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate, and would like to wish him the best of luck.

I also forgot an important rule: You CANNOT bring up new points or evidence in round 4.

So first let's look to my opponents framework, where he claims "Southern states need to get approval before changing the way elections are held." Now what you can assume from that, and what my opponent is assuming is that it is only the 9 covered Southern states who are passing voter ID laws, but laws have been passed in 10 other non-covered states. So you can drop that right there.

So now lets move on to his first contention where he claims that Southern racism is still alive. So look to his impact where he says that Section 5 is useless. Not only is that outside of the resolution, as it is section 4 of the VRA, but if you don't buy that, then look to where he says that these states are likely to succeed, which is right, these states, AND the other non-covered states, which is why it was unconstitutional. Because section 4 did not cover the states that are now discriminating. States like Massachusetts, and Connecticut. And why are these states not covered under section 4? Because the coverage formula of section is outdated! So you can drop his 1st contention and flip it to PRO.

So now lets move on to his second contention, where he says that new voter ID laws will be passed. And he brings up Texas, and how it will deplete minority voter turnout, however in the 2013 elections, where the new Texas voter ID laws were being enacted, the voter turnout increased dramatically in the whole states, and greatly increased in minority-majority counties. He also then uses the other 4 states, but those are all hypotheticals. So then you can drop his impact, that minorities are not able to vote, because with the new laws their turnout has gone up.
So you can drop his second contention.

Then look to his 3rd contention:
He claims that gerrymandering will happen, and has happened, but that simply cannot be true because gerrymandering happens every 10 years. So it last happened in 2010, and will not happen again until 2020, and SCOTUS' decision came in 2013, so gerrymandering HAS NOT HAPPENED since section 4 of the VRA was struck down. And if you don't buy that, then gerrymandering is not a constitutional violation, and has happened for several years when section 4 was still in law. So you're going to drop his 3rd contention.

Now go to his 4th contention where he claims that congress had the power to enforce legislation, but the full 14th and 15th amendments state that congress has the power to enforce PROPER legislation, which I have proven in my case and in my rebuttal that section 4 was not PROPER legislation, so you have to drop his 4th contention.

For these reason I urge a PRO ballot.

To my opponent I have a few questions:
1. How has gerrymandering happened since June 2013 if the census, and redistricting occurs at the start of the century?
2. If the PRO can prove that the new voter ID laws are not discriminatory, do I win this debate? Why or Why not?
3. How has section 4 passed strict scrutiny?


Lets start with answering the questions the opposition has presented.
1. How has gerrymandering happened since June 2013 if the census, and redistricting occurs at the start of the century?
They can do out-of-cycle redistricting.
2. If the PRO can prove that the new voter ID laws are not discriminatory, do I win this debate? Why or Why not?
No because in the card itself it says it is discriminatory. You can bring up cards saying voter ID laws are not discriminatory, but it doesn't matter as I have shown that voter ID laws can and are discriminatory in these cases.
3. How has section 4 passed strict scrutiny?
Like I have stated in my own case, there is southern racism, so this is one of the reasons why it passes strict scrutiny.
Now on to the opposition's case.
In their observation about scrutiny, I do not having to have the burden of proving this, because the resolution says its self if it was ruled constitutional or not. It doesn't not say if it is good or not. Even so, I have proven it is good from my C1.
Since the opposition did not refute my definitions, nor has a standard. We shall be using my definitions and standard in todays round.
Contention 1: Section 4 is obsolete.
Subpoint A: It is no longer necessary to take away the sovereignty of the states in order to stop voter discrimination.
I have 5 responses for this.
1. Equal protection of voting rights is more important " it"s explicit and clear in the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
2. We should be more concerned with the rights of individuals than the rights of state governments.
3. Additionally, the equal sovereignty doctrine only applies when states are entering the Union.
i. This is Justice Ginsburg, citing the Katzenbach case:
By: Ruth Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice
June 25, 2013

The Court stops any application of [Section 5] "5 by holding that [Section 4"s] "4(b)"s coverage formula is unconstitutional. It pins this result, in large measure, to "the fundamental principle of equal sovereignty." Ante, at 10"11, 23. In Katzenbach, however, the Court held, in no uncertain terms, that the principle "applies only to the terms upon which States are admitted to the Union, and not to the remedies for local evils which have subsequently appeared." 383 U. S., at 328"329 (emphasis added).

Impact: As evidence clearly states, treating states equally only applies to when they first join the Union. Therefore, it is not unconstitutional to treat the Southern states differently because they have been in the Union for a while.

4. The federal government can never treat states "equally" " they all have different needs and different conditions. The affirmative must clarify what "equal sovereignty" means.
5. When some states violate people"s rights, the federal government must step in to correct those states. That is much more important.
Subpoint B: The court ruling protects section 5 and allows section 4 to be renewed.
I have 2 responses to this.
1. The spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law. The Voting Rights Act exists to prevent racist voting procedures. Those unquestionably still occur.
2. A flawed law is better than no law, which is what the Court has left us with " the states are now free to do all sorts of racist actions. Sections 2 and 3 do not stop this effectively.
Also in that contention it talks about a redraft but, that will not happen.
1. That argument doesn"t mean that Section 4 is unconstitutional, which is what the affirmative must prove.
2. The US House of Representatives is controlled by white Southern Republicans. They"re not going to pass laws that increase the number of black people who vote in their districts. At best they will pass a weak version and try to make people think that voting rights are still being enforced.
3. The Senate is controlled by Democrats. They"ll never pass anything that the Republican House would like.
Response 2 and 3 in general are saying gridlock.
Contention 2: The VRA violated the 10th amendment, and the PRECLEARANCE REQUIREMENT.
The 15th amendment trumps the 10th amendment.
The Huffington Post reported on July 1, 2013 that:
By: The Huffington Post
July 1, 2013

The 15th Amendment Trumps the 10th Amendment on Voting Rights

But, equal sovereignty is the Chief Justice's invention. It is not in the Constitution and, if anything, the structure of the Constitution and the make-up of the government it created show that there was no intention to accord states equal sovereignty.
So we can take down this contention as we can see the 15th amendment strikes down the 10th amendment which is their only argument against how its unconstitutional.
Now back to my case.
He claims that my framework is my C1, but my framework is my definitions and my standard.
Now on to my C1. He says that voter ID laws have been passed in other states and that is true. But, there is a difference on why those IDs are not discriminatory and these are.
Free Voter IDs

Jason Mycoff of the University of Delaware, stated that:
By: Jason D. Mycoff, University of Delaware; Michael W. Wagner, University of Nebraska; David C. Wilson, University of Delaware
January 2009

First, Public Law 109-2005 requires that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) issue any voting eligible citizens a free voter-ID card, which is valid for six years, upon request. Aside from monetary costs, time costs- in Indiana at at least- also appear to be relatively low. The BMV estimates that the average visit time to one of the 146 statewide BMV offices is eight minutes, with the longest average visit time in the state at 14 minutes. Between January 1, 2007 and May 6, 2008 the BMV issued 257,100 free identification cards.

Impact: Minorities don"t need to pay to get a voter ID; the BMV gives everyone a free ID within 14 minutes as long as they are citizens. They also have many locations, proving that it isn"t inconvenient for minority voters.
We can see Indiana, a state not in the VRA, is helping minorities. The states under the VRA are not helping minorities because like my evidence has stated, the laws they put in the states in the VRA are discriminatory.
C2: They tell me that voter rates have went up, but I have 2 responses to this.
1) If you look it says CNN Opinion and if that doesn't sound unreliable, we can look at the persons credentials and it says the author is Bryan Preston, who was communications director of the Republican Party of Texas. We can see the bias of this article. It's from a Republican who just so happened to agree with the law that REPUBLICANS made. So we can drop the oppositions who refutation about how rates have gone up because of voter ID laws.
C3: The opposition comes up and says that gerrymandering isn't in section 4, and yes it isn't. RACIAL gerrymandering is. My contention says and I quote: Discriminatory gerrymandering, also called redistricting, will occur and violate rights. Also, in crossfire, the opposition asked me how is this possible, and I answered there is out-of-cycle redistricting, which Texas has done before.
C4 :I have refuted every rebuttal the opposition has made and I have refuted their case so we can see that it is protecting voting rights.
Questions for the opposition.
Is preclearance a punishment. Why/why not?
Where is equal sovereignty in the constitution?
For these reasons, I strongly urge a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


amik10 forfeited this round.


I will be talking about what it comes down to.
In my introduction, it talks about how the House of Rep. (Republican controlled) voted on a 390-33 vote, and the Senate (Democratic controlled) voted on a 98-0 vote. This proves that both parties wanted to keep Section 4 of the VRA.
Now on to the standard. Since there was no refutation nor was there a standard going against my standard, we will be using constitutionality as the weighing mechanism in today's round.
Now on to C1: Southern Racism is alive.
Like my evidence has stated there is 2400 discriminatory voting changes and they were blocked by section 4. There is still southern racism and we need to keep section 4 to contain it. I have refuted the oppositon's refutation to this by showing a card from a state not in the VRA and how they gave free voter IDs out to people. This shows that the other states are different because they are not doing discriminatory voting laws. Also, the opposition said that section 5 is not topical, but it is. Like I said in my impact, section 4 and section 5 is linked together. Section 4 is the guidelines and Section 5 is the punishments. Without section 4, section 5 is useless.
Now on to C4: The VRA protects the 14th and 15th amendment.
Since our standard is the weighing mechanism for today's round, we have proven we uphold the resolution because we have shown it is constitutional because it protects the 14th and 15th amendment. The opposition refutes it by saying it is not proper legislation, but I have proven it is proper since my C1 says that there was 2400 discriminatory voting changes which was blocked by Section 4. Also, I have proven it is constitutional because the 15th amendment trumps the 10th amendment which proves that there is no aspect of Section 4 of the VRA that is unconstitutional.
For these reasons I strongly urge a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 3


amik10 forfeited this round.


I will be telling everyone why I have won today's round.
On to the 1st reason:
C1: I have shown that there was 2400 discriminatory voting changes and how Section 4 of the VRA blocked them. This proves there is still southern racism and that Section 4 of the VRA can solve the racism.
My second reason is:
C4: Section 4 of the VRA protects the 14th and 15th amendment. The standard of today's debate was upholding the resolution and it clearly does uphold the 14th and 15th amendment as my evidence states. I have also refuted what the opposition said about how it is not proper because my C1 clearly states that it is proper because we can see this huge number of discrimintory voting changes and how Section 4 of the VRA solves for it.
Now on the world of the affirmation and the world of the negation.
In the world of the affirmation people assume that racism will stay the same so we don't have to worry about it. Its like throwing away your umbrella just because you're not wet. Another analogy that we can use is a water bottle. The water is racism and the water cap is Section 4 of the VRA. If we take off the cap or Section 4 of the VRA, the water or racism will spill out. Also, the world of the affirmation will not be protecting minorities because as we have said before, there will be no way to protect them or no safeguard at all.
In the world of the negation, there is Section 4 to protect the minorities and the minorities can vote and have their say. Also we will be upholding the 14th and 15th amendment because we are protecting voting rights. This is important because our standard was upholding the constitution and I have upheld it.
For these reasons, I strongly urge an negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by amik10 6 years ago
haha nice. good luck
Posted by pie5434 6 years ago
amik10 same using my debate case LOL.
Posted by amik10 6 years ago
I was using my case from a debate tournament lol.
Posted by dtaylor971 6 years ago
You know, it REALLY pisses me off when people talk like that. "I affirm... proactive burden..." DUDE. SPEAK ENGLISH. "I believe... the BoP..." this isn't a college debate tournament.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Dakota-Hiltzman 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.

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