[eDebate] The Roe Controversy
Tue Apr 11 14:36:38 CDT 2006
The discussion about Roe v. Wade in the inclusion of the topic is a very
important one. Let me talk about my sense of the committee based on
talking to at least some of the members about this issue.
1) It is highly unlikely that Roe v. Wade would appear on every
ballot option for the topic, if the Court overrule area wins. Given the
controversy surrounding Roe, it would seem premature to assume that Roe
would appear on every ballot option. Having discussed the issue with
Steve, the goal would be to create different lists of cases for the
community to vote on, pending a victory for the Supreme Court area.
This also answers Hester's question of what are we getting? A list
topic, based on committee input.
2) Roe v. Wade will not be the only option for the topic, even if
that particular ballot area won. The lead discussion has been to
include affirmative action and euthanasia almost as definites, and then
a wide variety of other ideas on various case options. Some discussion
has occurred around the case that struck down the damage remedies under
the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), meaning the most likely
"overrule" of said case would be to allow federal civil remedies
under the VAWA for domestic violence (three of our former alums in the
legal field all independently recommended US v. Morrison). There are
death penalty cases being considered. There are cases of executive
authority in the war on terror. There are "disabled" rights cases.
Many of the cases come from the two topic papers I supported in the
past, many are from input being provided by people in the subcommittee
for this area, many are coming from the discussions people are having
now. I think Nicole Colston's idea of a pornography case would be
excellent (Joe Patrice is looking into First Amendment issues).
3) A case appearing on a ballot is not an endorsement of the topic
committee thinking the case is a good idea in the "real world."
Frequently the opposite is true, as the committee wants to balance
perceived aff. side bias. I feel fairly confident if you polled the
committee, they would not support an overrule of Roe v. Wade in the
"real world" at least in the sense you might generally think of
overruling Roe (advocating a pro-life position). Usually, cases are
selected based on literature depth, relevance of the controversy, and
perhaps most importantly, side balance. Given the depth of perceived
community sentiment in favor of being pro-choice, it MAY be the case
that overrule Roe is a somewhat "safer" option for Negative ground.
Alternatively, the committee might decide to have Webster v.
Reproductive Health Services (or another case that imposed restrictions
on abortion) available for the AFF. to overrule (meaning the AFF. could
be more explicitly pro-choice). This is not to discount the numerous
other ways Roe could be overturned to either evade the
pro-life/pro-choice divide (Dutcher), or be explicitly pro-choice
(Rubino, Hester, Hall, etc.) That is my long way of saying that just
because the committee might put a case on the ballot doesn't mean that
the committee members "like" that case in the "real world" or
that they are ideologically trying to push members of the community in
that direction. Indeed, the committee may be trying to ensure Negative
ground by including a case that many might oppose on its face (i.e.
4) Community input is extremely welcome, both in crafting the area,
as well as the individual topics should this topic win. Steve has
mentioned this before, but the committee is more often starved for input
rather than receiving too much. Three years ago at NCA, I presented the
lone topic paper ready at that time (even though it was technically the
deadline), the original version of Courts. Steve asked me to revamp
that last year to focus on an area, so I wrote the Federalism paper.
Now, the community thinks the original, more unrestricted version might
have been a better idea, and the committee wanted to expand the paper
toward more touchstone issues. There is a long history of various tries
at the Courts topic, and all have come up short. It may come up short
yet again. But, through input from the community, we can at least try
and craft the best possible topic, while realizing that it will be
impossible to make everyone happy. Pick an area you want to work on, be
it a sub-area under Courts, exec. power or IPR. Get in touch with the
committee, trust me, there is always too much to do, not too little.
5) Last but not least, if you have an idea for a topic paper,
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write one. I know it is hard to think that the
paper you write might not be on the ballot for a year, because you want
it on the ballot for this year. However, providing the community
options for future years is essential so we can have a wide variety of
options available for the community. If you want an international law
topic, for example, write one. If there is something that strikes your
fancy that you might want to debate, or see debated, write it up.
Thank you all for your great discussion of these issues. Please
continue to provide feedback on this issue and others either over
edebate or with topic committee representatives.
Side note: anyone want to talk about IPR or executive authority?
Given my track record with topics, I sort of implicitly assume another
topic will win J
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