[eDebate] a defense of areas over cases

Caitlin Ryan ryancait
Sat May 27 01:09:24 CDT 2006

a lot of this i already emailed to malcolm, but i strongly support
areas instead of cases. here's why:

I agree with gabe that the idea of areas is scary - especially the way
that have been talked about.  people seem to think that an area
resolution would be something like "the ussc should overrule a
decision in one or more of the following areas: abortion, criminals'
rights, the first amendment, equal protection." obviously, that
resolution would be huge and entirely impossible to debate.   That
being said, I disagree that the solution is a list of cases.  I think
that a carefully worded areas topic could be narrow enough to resolve
problems with an areas topic.

malcolm gave the example of "environment" vs. "state vs. federal
control on environmental policy" as a way to limit areas on the
'blog'. i think there are even better examples - instead of abortion,
the area could be 'mandatory waiting periods for abortions'; instead
of 'criminal rights,' the area could be 'the exclusion at state trials
of evidence obtained in violation of the 4th amendment'.  those areas
mandate a direction and are small enough to provide predictable
advantage ground and fairly predictable cases, but still large enough
to provide diverse ground for the aff.  i also think that areas
tailored this way resolve gabe's first problem with an areas approach
- it's fairly obvious which decisions uphold mandatory waiting periods
or provide exceptions to the exclusionary rule.  obviously, eloquence
has never been my style, but you get my drift.

my big concern about a list of cases is very similar to what tripp
said, but it i think that it's a much bigger potential problem than he
thinks - simply saying "the ussc should overturn: casey, hamdi, etc"
means very little.. this was addressed some on the blog, but i don't
think there's ever been a good resolution.  in casey, practically none
of the justices agreed on what standard to use to evaluate
restrictions or on what restrictions were allowed, but 5 happened to
agree that spousal notification laws weren't cool, so they were found
to be unconstitutional.  ed lee's area report on abortion demonstrates
even better - some people have argue that casey solidified roe, some
say that it gutted roe.

the hamdi decision is equally confusing, as tripp demonstrated.  what
would overturning hamdi look like? would it literally be the opposite
of the holding (the aff must get their advantages off of depriving
citizens due process rights), or would it be the opposite of the
plurality opinion (so advantages could be based off of saying that
congress can't authorize the detention of combatants without charge)?
this is similar to questions that stefan presented early on on the
topic 'blog', and i don't think there has ever been a solution for how
the wording could be made sophisticatedly enough to fix it.

can ANYONE who supports cases instead of areas PLEASE explain to me
how the resolution can be worded to prevent this? or does everyone
just think that it's going to happen in either an areas or a cases
topic, because we'll be overturning cases either way?  or do you just
view it as how more aff ground can be written into a cases topic? i'm
not so worried about annoying affs, i'm worried about even more
annoying neg args.  it really seems like a list of cases is the
direction that the topic is moving, so i hope that this issue is
discussed more thoroughly

i have a question for tripp, on that note - what does "the reversal of
a holding must be on the grounds upheld by a majority of the court"
mean?  it seems as though eloquence may not be your style either..
does that mean that a case like hamdi or casey, without majority
opinions, are just out of consideration for the topic?

i hope this all makes sense...

caitlin ryan

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