Answering The Courts CP Part 1

Probably the most common question we’ve gotten this year is some version of “how do you answer process cp x”. Usually I ignore these questions because the real answer is “prefs”, but I suppose we can give it the old college try with the courts CP.

First, before deciding how to answer a CP you must figure out on a scale of 1-10 how “nonsense” it is. For example- con con. Right off the bat the nonsense level is pretty high here, multiple agents doing a process that has never been done etc, that is at least an 8/10. Despite this, you could just read the “runaway convention” disad which argues that once you start the process of amending the constitution you create a “runaway convention” where people try and amend it with even zanier ideas that are bad. The negative didn’t run con con because they wanted to clash and have a debate though, they read it because they are empty lifeless husks who can only fill the hole inside themselves by hurting others, and so because they knew there were potential disads to their nonsense they decided to kick the nonsense up a notch and add a line to their cp text like “through a LIMITED convention”. Does this “limited convention” have a card/empirical support/warrant for why it prevents a runaway? No. Why do judges accept this as an “argument”? Don’t know.

Point being, by adding 2 words to their CP they have no made your evidence based DA to their CP 100% not viable in the eyes of most judges.

Which brings us to our first rule: The more the CP approaches nonsense the more you have to for theory, or impact turn the net benefit. Yes I know-judges don’t like theory and you are scared of impact turns, but unfortunately there is no third way on this one.

This nonsense can become particularly annoying in the context of courts. Let us take one example, the “narrow ruling”. This can be kind of complicated so lets set up a simple hypothetical.

Imagine a country of Clarkland is being formed and they are writing their constitution. When they get to the section on rights they come up with the following 3

  1. Each citizen of Clarkland has a right to free MMA payperviews
  2. During said payperviews they get free Fogo De Chao
  3. Everyone is allowed to be at least 20 minutes late to everything

These rights seem pretty simple, but over time there begins to be disagreement about what exactly they mean, and people start to take advantage until one day at my free payperview party Fogo only brings the salad bar- no meat. Being the calm, levelheaded, rational individual that I am I decide to immediately sue them.

Now, the court can decide my “right” was violated in two different ways.

A NARROW ruling would say: on this day Phillips was entitled to the entire Rodizio experience.

It’s “narrow” as opposed to “broad” because it applies to 1 person in a specific instance.

If instead the court said , “All citizens are entitled to Rodizio at all times because of the constitution” that would be a “wider” ruling.

The 2 factors that make something wide vs narrow: scope of the decision, citing the constitution.

This means you can’t just add “In a narrow ruling…” to the beginning of your CP and have it make sense, especially when you rule on constitutional grounds. So this SHOULD NOT be a silver bullet answer to your disad to the courts CP, but unfortunately too many judges will think that it is.

I begin with this little sidebar about theory/da spikes because we are now going to talk about the best disads to the courts CP in order, and a big factor in why they are in the order they are in is “degree of difficulty for the neg in spiking out of the DA” (the other factor is uniqueness).

As an example think, why does no one read court politics vs the court cp? Because the neg can just 2NC cp out of it in 2 seconds.

Disads to Court CP Tierlist

Tier S: Hollow Hope. Most people think hollow hope is a bad argument (blah blah blah no hope pun), and they aren’t wrong. Most of the times they have seen the hollow hope disad it has ben 2 random cards from the 90s and yes that is terrible. That is part of what makes it good- no one sees it coming.

What is hollow hope? The name comes from a book about whether or not the courts are a good agent for creating social change. The premise is that courts are fundamentally conservative, so that when one social movement gets a court victory it creates the illusion that the courts are more liberal/favorable to social change than they really are. As an example when someone like Roberts votes to uphold Obamacare, then a million articles were written “Is Roberts a secret liberal???” when in reality though he voted for a “liberal” ruling his reasoning was conservative. So a disad shell might look like

A. Immigrant rights groups are pushing for legislative changes re: the border

B. Supreme court rulings act like flypaper for social movements

C. Courts are conservative/waste resources/drain movement energy

D. Immigration reform good

This is in fact the disad I read in HS to the court CP because there were specific articles about hollow hope and immigration. Hollow hope is good because it isn’t really “spikeable”- i.e. you can’t add an easy line to solve the public perception links. People have tried to do other things that are conservative to stop the link, but remember the link is masking, so if the CP already masks SQ conservativism its going to cover the spike as well.

We said above that hollow hope is bad sometimes, to make it good treat it like any other disad: cut uniqueness updates, have a specific scenario, be ready with blocks to common neg answers. Most neg’s will probably make the following 3 answers

-winners win for movements

-your cards are bad

-no link some gibberish

So just having good cards defeats 90% of that (since the basic thesis of hollow hope is a refutation of winners win) and have a few good extension cards- we are talking maybe 10 tops for the whole disad if they are good. It can be really helpful if your impact scenario is related to the case- not exactly CJR again, but lets say there are 2 affs

-ban the DP on equal protection grounds

-abolish prisons because of environmental racism

If you have two potential hollow hope impacts that are environmental protections/warming or equal protection challenges to war on terror, it should be obvious that each of them “lines up” with one of the cases better than the other, so it would be easier to give a 2AR on prisons/environmental racism spilling over to warming because they are both about the environment for example. This is no different than if you were reading the disad on the neg.

Tier A: Judicial Activism/Legitimacy

Almost every court disad gets homogenized into “legitimacy”, so I am going to subdivide these based on a slightly odd distinction

Legitimacy is a disad about public perception of the court

Activism is a disad about congressional perception of the court

Clearly these 2 things are not separate and they overlap in reality. This distinction is useful though because many aff’s make a claim about their popularity with the public/social change that undercuts their ability to make a good legitimacy link argument about the public, so they need to rely on congress or the executive backlashing as the link.

So, the legitimacy disad says

-the court is perceived as more legitimate than other branches now- this is a key trick, you don’t need to win they are 100% legit, just that they are MORE legit and therefore still perceived as a check/balance

-the plan is controversial with the public/the ruling would undermine legitimacy

-a silly democracy impact

Again, like hollow hope this disad can be made better/more specific but for our purposes this is fine.

The Activism disad would look something like

-interbranch relations are fine now/the court knows its roll

-the plan/cp is perceived as “legislating from the bench” which angers congress/the executive and causes backlash

-this backlash does something (like undermine the independent judiciary) that basically gets us to a similar legitimacy impact

Its slightly harder to add a plank to get out of the legitimacy link since its about the public, people routinely will try and CP out of activism.

What makes these a lower tier than hollow hope?

  1. People are more likely to be ready with a wider set of answers
  2. the impacts are often very “stock” things like democracy or leadership that many negatives will be ready to impact turn. Oftentimes the most time you spend on one of these disads for a 2AC will be trying to find a tricky or creative impact to avoid these stock ones

Tier B: Precedent Disads

A precedent disad would argue that the court ruling for the plan affects future decisions, “precedent” is the idea that if you do something once you are now bound to do things in a similar fashion in the future. Your parents let you watch a rated R movie once, in the future you argue “but last time”- its the same thing with the Supreme Court.

A precedent disad would like like

-normal means for ruling on the plan would be the X amendment

-ruling on the X amendment sets a precedent that applies in other cases

-That means in case Y the court would issue decision Z which = nuke war

So say the affirmative did something with the juvenile justice system, a precedent disad could be something like ruling for juvenile rights in area X spillsover to future decisions on area Y like drinking age or something. Precedent disads have a certain intuitive appeal- they are case specific and sort of reflect the way courts actually work. This doesn’t mean they aren’t also somewhat silly- the court regularly overturns itself or changes precedent, its not a set of iron shackles.

So why Tier B? While the above “more answers” is also true, the main problem with these is spikes- either in the 1NC or a 2NC amendment to the CP. Since the impact to these disads is usually smaller/more comparable with the case than politics its often not worth the time investment to tackle both theory and substance on the DA to then also have to win framing.

Tier C: Everything else/court politics

I already explained this above, so lets instead talk for a second about how you could use CX to help set up some of these arguments better.

  1. Push on status- a simple trick to set up any disad is to make it harder for the 2N to CP out of it. Ask about status/follow up with “what is your interpretation of condo” and usually most negs get so scared they will say “only 1” or “2” or whatever which precludes 2NC CP
  2. Ask about spikes- don’t let them wait till they see the 2AC to explain what the CP does. Spikes like “narrow ruling” need to be explained as the CP is small/not perceived to get out of your disad , make them take a position on this and you can go the other way (no solvency) rather than let THEM pick which direction they want to go after the 2AC/to moot your answers
  3. Proportionality- disads to conditional cps are scary. Make your 2AC disad size appropriate for the 1NC investment/likely block extension. If courts is 1 sentence no cards and they never go for it, don’t read a disad. In the trickier cases try reading it very short but be ready for the 1AR to read multiple pieces of evidence so it can become a credible argument.

In getting right into disads I skipped one area- Agent Add ons. A basic feature of debating conditional cps is that add ons the CP doesn’t solve are generally better than disads because you can go for them if they kick the CP/they frequently will not answer them. These can be pretty hard to find/difficult to put together, and if you had them I’m guessing you wouldn’t be asking how do I answer the court.

In part 2 we will talk about solvency deficits, but generally you are going to want to go the da or impact turn route in 90% of cases.

One response to “Answering The Courts CP Part 1

  1. One other thing to remember is perm shields and CP links to the NB, my 2AC to con-con for the NDT was 25-35 seconds, with 12 seconds on perms/CP links. Additionally there is usually a bit of a double bind between perm shields and CP links that can mean the solvency deficit can be really small.

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