[eDebate] Partial Birth Abortion
Wed Apr 18 20:24:29 CDT 2007
Some reflections I have on the Court topic:
1) After reading/skimming Gonzales v. Carhart I think it is fair to
say that the real problem with the Court topic was not that the
literature was bad, or that the terms of art used were incoherent, or
that the T issue was tricky and affirmatives were overly limited, or
even the ever-persuasive "legal topics intrinsically blow" claims -
the problem was that debaters and their coaches wanted to find a way
to debate the apocalypse more than they wanted to find a way to make
the legal literature "fit" within the parameters of debate as we know
it to be. Carhart in and of itself demonstrated how crafty teams
debating Casey could have been (either aff or neg); for example, from
Ginsburg's dissent we see that the ruling in Carhart could have been
about two important issues (that either pro-life or pro-choice Casey
affs/negs could have accessed easily):
A. Debates about the actual nature of PBA compared to the popularly
debated "D&E" & "D&X" procedures.
Ginsburg: "'[T]he notion that either of these two equally gruesome
procedures ? is more akin to infanticide than the other, or that the
State furthers any legitimate interest by banning one but not the
other, is simply irrational.' Stenberg, 530 U. S., at 946?947
(Stevens, J., concurring)."
There are legitimate arguments going both ways on this particular
issue - and these debates could have given way to great debates about
the value of life, the way society defines life beginning/ending,
etc. For all of those "anti-K" groups out there I am with you most of
the time, but these issues are valuable and educational, and they are
"real world" issues that we as a community could have had the chance
to discuss in depth - turns out, we didn't.
B. Considering morality in SCOTUS jurisprudence, and how that would
have linked up to other important decisions (in this case Lawrence):
Ginsburg: "Ultimately, the Court admits that 'moral concerns' are at
work, concerns that could yield prohibitions on any abortion. ... By
allowing such concerns to carry the day and case, overriding
fundamental rights, the Court dishonors our precedent. See, e.g.,
Casey, 505 U. S., at 850 ... Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 571
(2003) (Though ?[f]or many persons [objections to homosexual conduct]
are not trivial concerns but profound and deep convictions accepted
as ethical and moral principles,? the power of the State may not be
used 'to enforce these views on the whole society through operation
of the criminal law.' (citing Casey, 505 U. S., at 850))."
This particular issue of how the Court should position itself in
moral debates (or if it should have at all) would have been a GREAT
wedge against, say, the shitty shitty shitty Constitutional Amendment
CP (since you could not really amend that the Court "no longer be
moral in its decisions" - maybe you could, but it would have been a
credible and legitimate wedge and one could have worked out the
kinks), and it would have given the community access to a body of
literature that close to NOBODY used - debates about the "enduring"
Constitution versus "originalist" and/or "textualist" methods of
With the exception of Wake's spicy spin on these arguments as "pseudo-
procedurals," these bodies of literature did not get the attention
they deserved from the community - which I think is somewhat
ridiculous considering this is one of the bigger debates that will
probably go on for forever.
2) What relevance does this have to the future? I think it means that
those people who are rolling their eyes at "another" foreign-policy-
nuclear-war-big-stick-hegemony-oil-bullshit Middle East topic should
just learn the (relatively sad) lesson that the Court topic taught us
- yes, it kind of sucks that debate is like this (and we all know who
the teams are that propagate it - we look at them in our squad rooms
everyday), but perhaps we should simply accept that this is where
debate is currently, and try to make it better within that framework
of foreign-policy-nuclear-war-etc. (for example, by crafting a topic
that deals head-on with issues of proliferation, economic stability,
Once we accept that reality we can then begin to try and "spice
things up" with new spins on old styles of debate - so, for instance,
including debates about particular countries or particular policies
requires debaters to stay away from the vague and theoretical
"engagement v. pressure" debates and instead discuss the SPECIFICS of
particular policies, the SPECIFICS of those policies' ramifications
for US-Israeli relations, the SPECIFICS of the way certain components
of particular foreign policies get interpreted by the populations of
other countries, what that means, etc.
Sadly, I think this will be a very very very slow process, but I
think it is something to keep in mind, and it is a reason why I am
relieved that we chose a Middle East topic over genetic engineering -
although I think the genetic engineering literature would have been
fresh and interesting to research - I truly believe that debate would
have made it suck, much as it made the study of the law suck - which
is sad, because I think the law is a wonderfully complicated set of
codes that has expanded to the point where it will (and already does)
affect a vast majority of Americans in a very distinct way.
Back to exams.
On Apr 18, 2007, at 8:36 PM, Kade Olsen wrote:
> This may have been posted.
> I don't know how much people still care about the courts.
> Nontheless, Gonzales v. Carhart is pretty big deal.
> There are a number of commentaries on scotusblog that are interesting.
> Kennedy, of course, wrote the majority opinion. After year of
> debating the courts, I think we can conclude that while Kennedy
> will make a liberal decisions here and there, he still sucks. More
> importantly, the court is still evil and judicial overhang will
> continue to undermine individual rights.
> Kade _______________________________________________
> eDebate mailing list
> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Mailman