[eDebate] Landmark as a limiting term

Ede Warner ewarner
Tue May 23 22:45:40 CDT 2006

On a different note, when we first discussed the possibility of a courts
topic several years ago, it was sold as debates over "landmark" cases on
big cases.  We have again slowly moved away from that, in part with the
Roe discussion and in part because of the way we analyze topics guided
by our competitive equity measures.  
Forget PICs, forget topicality, forget areas versus lists.  What if we
had a topic with 3-5 of the biggest, most landmark cases ever?  I asked
my wife to pick five landmark cases off the top of her head:  she picked
Roe, Grutter (Mich aff axn), Brown, then stopped.  I'd add Korematsu,
Bakke, and perhaps TLO vs NJ.  
Any smaller cases that cut precedent, still have to deal with symbolic
advantages and their value as uniqueness arguments gets limited for the
same reasons:  neg could make signal arguments (that the smaller case
the aff is using for uniqueness didn't kick the DA in because it wasn't
noticed outside of the courts, but overturning Korematsu would)--didn't
know I could use these terms anymore, did you?
A quick non-lexus search for landmark cases produces a lot of sites. 
http://www.landmarkcases.org/ is one used to teach students about
landmark cases.
The list has Korematsu, Brown, Mapp v Ohio, Roe, US v Nixon, Bakke, and
NJ vs TLO, just to name a few.  Anyone in debate for the last 20 years
won't need much discussion of these.  Pick 4-8 in different areas and
role with it.  If you like areas, put something together with the terms
precedent and landmark to limit it to these cases.  
* Why isn't landmark a potential limiting term?  For those of you into
it, there could be great topicality debates again...We could debate
frivilous uses of the term versus more defined and field contextual
If there was ever a chance to keep it simple and engage some of the
most important debates of our time, this seems to be it.  I caution
against overthinking the competitive equity issues to the point of
moving away from the true precedent setting cases.  This seems like
something the committee should stay conscious about. 
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu
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