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 on: Today at 11:10:43 AM 
Started by Kathryn Rubino - Last post by Kathryn Rubino
So with 9 quality, but very long, topic papers out there and time constraints being what they are, I thought it'd be a good idea to give my "elevator pitch" on why you should rank First Amendment high on your ballot.
3 reasons:

1- variety of aff impacts
The way the controversy is structured allows for a wide variety of topical Aff impacts. Want to run an aff that attacks white supremacy? You can do that under the hate speech prong of the potential resolution (or use it as a starting point to deconstruct that). Want to talk about terrorism impacts? Your aff could ban ISIS sympathizing videos. If you overturn Citizens United you can talk about a wide range of campaign finance impacts from capitalism, Russian influence in US elections, to NRA lobbying. You want to talk about violence against women? Ban revenge porn.
This topic has something for everyone.

2- great generic neg ground
You might be worried that so many aff possibilities would screw the neg. not so on this topic. Because of the direction of the controversy-- limiting 1A rights-- there is a solid core of academic literature from First Amendment fundamentalists that would argue any limit on the 1A would be terrible. There's a built in slippery slope DA where the aff's erosion of a fundamental right could be linked to a more severe attack on personal liberties. And because of the relatively small size of First Amendment academics, the authors responds to one another in a way that makes for great debate.
This topic also does not divide aff and neg ground along traditional liberal/conservative lines. That means there are neg case cards from both a liberal and conservative point of view. And you can run affs from a wide variety of political perspectives-- from critical race theorists to security experts. As we, as a community, struggle with how to construct a topic that everyone can be comfortable with making sure we select a topic that has quality aff and neg ground from all sides of our community is essential.

3- salient topic for 2018-19
This topic is incredibly timely-- and not in a "oh no, our aff is non-inherent" a week before the NDT sort of way. The issue of free speech rights and who gets to exercise them is being played out on college campuses right now. The alt-right, via Milo Yiannopoulos and other trolls, has launched an assault on college campuses in an attempt to redefine the 1A in a way that suits their particular political agenda. For college kids this is as real world as it comes, a year's worth of research on the topic can only serve them well when the issue blows up at their campus.

 on: May 19, 2018, 10:38:52 AM 
Started by Hester - Last post by Hester
this has also been copied and pasted to the Facebook College Policy Debate Topic Discussion page...

The following is an explanation for how we ended up with 9 TAPs on the ballot, i.e., it will focus on the reasons why the other 3 submitted TAPs (Government Structure, Labor, Treaties) were excluded.
With that in mind, I’ll provide some background context for those who are new to the process:
1)   The role of the Topic Committee (TC) is to manage the process by which CEDA dues-paying members end up with a resolution for the next academic year. There are essentially four steps: submission of TAPs by anyone who wants to produce a paper, TC construction of the first-stage ballot whereby CEDA voters select a topic area, the CEDA business meetings taking place in June at which the TC meets to transform the TAP into a second-stage ballot that includes at least 3 resolution choices, and the second-stage ballot whereby CEDA voters select what resolution will be debated the next academic year. Some of that process (e.g., the dates for when voting occurs, the number of resolution options on the second-stage ballot) are dictated to us, while other parts (e.g., how it is determined which TAPs make the first-stage ballot) are left to the decision-making of the TC.

2)   The exclusion from the first-stage ballot of submitted TAPs is not uncommon. In at least 4 of the last eight years (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018), there has been at least one TAP that was submitted but did not make the ballot. As evidenced by the decisions of this year’s TC, the authority (some would say ‘duty’) of the Topic Committee to serve as a gate-keeper of what TAPs are voted on is a concept agreed upon by the majority of the TC (indeed, several who may have voted to include any/all of the 3 TAPs that were excluded this year still strongly in the power/authority of the TC to exclude if it so chooses).

3)   There are three moving parts to the current process making it somewhat stressful, frustrating, and/or less mutually beneficial than it might ideally be. First, there are the people who want to submit a TAP, and their needs –specifically, the need by many for more time ‘after nationals’ for them to produce the best TAP they can. Second, there are the needs of the TC to do our best in digesting the total of more than 1000 pages of complex topic area advocacy for a dozen different topics, discuss our thoughts about each, and reach consensus necessary for the creation of first- and second-stage ballots. And finally, the CEDA President is dealing with the need to adhere to timelines dictated in CEDA bylaws, which directly impact (and frequently cut against) the needs outlined in the first two moving parts. This year, those potential conflicts were further exacerbated by a delay in the formation of the full TC – the student reps were not voted upon until mid-May. There is ongoing discussion as to how to better synchronize the aforementioned moving parts so as to create a smoother process with expectedly better outcomes in terms of more people feeling confident in how the TC does its job (TC members included).

Having said all that as a set-up, here’s how the RFDs came about…
A)   Decision calculus:

As expressed by one TC member: “…someone is going to have to decide which TAPs qualify… the TC should always weigh in on this, even in years we are not restricted to one area.” In other words, the job of the TC is to make decisions about TAPs and Resolution wording options, and regardless of whether all TAPs make the first-stage ballot or only some do, “decisions” are being made based on some logic/metric.

The following argument was presented at the start: The default (or ‘presumption’) should be that any TAP submitted on time should make the ballot, out of respect to the authors who worked hard to write a TAP. To be clear, ‘presumption’ means that it is unnecessary an argument be made *for* a TAP to be on the ballot; instead, an argument must be made *against* a TAP and be found persuasive by a majority of the TC members (5 of 9) in order to be left off the ballot.

With that as a guide, the discussion opened up to any argument against inclusion of any TAP. The explanations in the next section (B) outline arguments that ultimately persuaded at least a simple majority to leave some TAPs off the ballot. 

B)   Reasons for Decisions:

1)   Both Treaties and the Labor TAPs were ultimately excluded due to a consensus of opinion that neither was worthy as a “legal” topic. This is not to deny the attempts by authors of those TAPs to describe the possibility of debating each as such –kudos to the authors for their effort.

As one TC member argued, “The criteria is ‘A topic that relates to a controversy within legal jurisprudence and where the topic wording emphasizes legal research.’  The controversy area is clearly legal-ish, because treaties affect or constitute laws, but that's not synonymous with ‘controversy within legal jurisprudence’ and I don't think the topic wording ("ratify/accede to/implement one or more of the following") promotes legal research so much as it promotes research on whether XYZ treaty is a good or bad idea.” Or to quote another: “I love reading about treaties, and I personally love reading about the legal things about treaties, but I don't feel like there is a resolution about treaties that is consistent with the paper that encourages/promotes legal research. I don't think the paper really backs up some of its claims about being a legal topic - either in terms of being a legal controversy or promoting legal research.”

The opposition to Labor was not as strongly defined – there was acknowledgement that labor laws are commonly challenged in the courts, for example. However, like Treaties, a majority of the TC came away from reading the Labor TAP thinking that it is a square peg topic that *can* be forced into the round hole of the Legal Topic rotation, but such machinations are not best for either an optimally-educational discussion of the topic or a great way to spend a year of trying to debate that topic. In the case of Labor, one TC member explained their opposition thusly: “‘the Supreme Court could be the actor’ and ‘it relates to laws and rights’ seems more like ‘this issue has legal implications and interactions’ than ‘this is a legal topic’.”

Under the current process, TC members have to figure out for themselves how they measure TAPs vs the topic rotation requirements. One TC member articulated the following metric they use as part of their decision-making:

“For me, the test is ‘Could a debater learn about the heart of the topic by Googling some internet topic lit and not have to do legal research?’ For example, health care topic – yes…some folks read law reviews/did legal research. But the majority of folks seemed to learn most of their topic knowledge from health care journals and health care news sources…and that was okay - not a legal topic… I feel both treaties and labor would possibly scratch the surface of some legal research, but most debaters, like with health care, could understand the heart of the issues with foreign policy or labor lit, not requiring a ton of legal research. By contrast, all the other topics seem to have more solid core legal/constitutional aspects of their controversies. …most of the topics are salient in the news, but all of the other topics likely have constitutional/legal controversies at their core that would make legal research.”

2)   Government Structure was a different case. Opposition to it was not focused on the T-Legal question, but more so workability and salience concerns. In terms of the latter point, multiple TC members noted that the sources cited in the TAP did not support the notion that this topic is ‘timely’ in a way that implicates research and advocacy. As one TC member stated: “there's a real disconnect between the solvency advocates for possible mechanisms and the timeliness arg/the stated advantage ground -- i.e., in 2018 it makes intuitive sense to propose sweeping changes to the structure of the USFG, so why are all the solvency advocates from the 20th century? We don't know what any of these proposals look like in our current political moment. That's not to say that this could not be a good controversy area, but I worry about the amount of work required to ‘update" the proposals.’” TC members persuaded by this reason were very cognizant of TC responsibilities at our meetings June 8-10, specifically, “If I am understanding our timeline right, we will have 7 days from when the topic area is known/chosen to bring that paper into the 21st century? I don't like our odds.”

A second concern, independent with but interactive upon the first, was the size of the topic area and its workability. As explained, “…it seems to encompass every other topic area, and then some. Lots of the possible AFFs in the executive authority/voting rights/presidential removal/probably other papers would also be plausible under ‘change the structure of the USFG.’ …combined with the first issue I feel like this would require an incredible amount of TC effort and might end up with resolutions that look radically different from the paper.”

The decisions to exclude the Labor and Government Structure TAPs from the ballot were more contested than that to exclude Treaties. More than one TC member advocated for either/both of these two to make the first-stage ballot. There was an exchange of ideas and warrants on both sides of the include/exclude decision for each, the depths of which were limited only by the sliver of time the TC had to deliberate, and not by any lack of care for the work done on each or awareness of the consequences for our decisions. In the case of Labor and Treaties, both were determined to be much better fits in a non-legal year. In the case of Government Structure, a majority of this TC would need to see different research about it as a topic and more in-depth analysis of how that topic area might be corralled into a manageable resolution (as last year’s resolution – and many more prior to that – indicates, there is a preference among CEDA voting membership for choosing narrower topics/resolutions). And since, as proven by the Labor TAP, any TAP can be re-submitted in future years, the notion that Government Structure need not be accepted this year, but could be reworked and submitted another year. IF the TC had been under different timelines, it might have been possible to send it back to the author for a ‘revise and resubmit’ touch-up, an idea favored by multiple TC members in a world where the Topic Area Ballot didn’t have to be published less than 72 hours after all the components necessary for TC decisions (fully-constituted membership, all papers submitted) were in place.

Obviously and understandably, the authors of the excluded TAPs (and many of those who wanted to debate these topics) disagree with much, if not all, of the reasoning given above – otherwise, they wouldn’t have submitted the TAPs they did. And “we did the best we could” is not a response that can, or should, discount those disagreements. My post is not attempt to ‘debate it out’ any more than the judge who explains why they voted AFF is doing so in order to entice the NEG into an argument that will keep them all from eating lunch or prepping for the next round. Instead, I hoped to have provided some insight into how we reached our decisions and how those choices might have been different in different circumstances.

I have purposefully avoided mentioning which specific TC member said what or how the voting breaks down by TC member. I do so for two reasons. First, I honestly don’t feel it makes the process better, and as chair, I have zero interest in the petty politics almost certainly to result once ‘names are named.’ Secondly and most importantly, while individual members had to initiate discussion by making ‘their’ case, actions taken by the TC are collectively “our” decision, and my experience being chair of various committees is that speaking with one voice is the best way to ensure WE, the committee, can work together in the most productive way.  Having said that, we do expect to have ‘live coverage’ of the June meetings and that level of disclosure/surveillance will reveal, to all who follow, the arguments and positions of each and every TC member throughout our deliberations.

Now, we all have NINE papers that DID make the second-stage ballot to comb through and think about so that we can figure out how to rank them. 

 on: May 16, 2018, 11:24:18 AM 
Started by Adam Symonds - Last post by Adam Symonds
The 2018 is now open for registration. Our website remains the same (, and the link to register appears on the Registration page. Arizona State is transitioning between online payment systems from this academic year to next, so the set up took a bit longer this year than is ideal. Earlybird deadline is June 1.

This year's staff includes Deven Cooper, Izak Dunn, David Hingstman, Steven Pointer, Grace Saez, and Adam Symonds. We are currently still adding Lab Assistants, as documented in my prior message.

We're continuing last year's hybrid online/in person format, with a series of short lectures, practice speeches, research assignments, and lab discussions online July 15-28 and one week in person July 29-August 5 for practice debates, redos, and a tournament.

Questions, check out our website or email me directly.

 on: May 15, 2018, 07:20:44 PM 
Started by jstidham - Last post by jstidham
Attached. Happy topic paper season!

 on: May 15, 2018, 02:59:46 PM 
Started by ceda - Last post by ceda
Removal paper

 on: May 15, 2018, 02:53:08 PM 
Started by ceda - Last post by ceda
IPR paper

 on: May 15, 2018, 09:59:20 AM 
Started by Adri - Last post by Adri
Executive Authority Controversy Paper attached.

 on: May 15, 2018, 07:59:12 AM 
Started by ceda - Last post by ceda
Corporate Criminal Penalties

 on: May 15, 2018, 05:22:37 AM 
Started by Kathryn Rubino - Last post by Kathryn Rubino
The First Amendment topic paper.

 on: May 14, 2018, 04:29:30 PM 
Started by tripprebrovick - Last post by tripprebrovick

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