In the last post, we looked at the background behind cameras in the supreme court. It’s possible to run structural inherency against this case, but is that the best option? In order to determine the answer to that question, we first have to look at the other options. Here are 3 arguments that you would have to give up in order to argue inherency.
#1) Judicial Independence
The first argument given up is a big picture philosophy debate about judicial independence. Let’s go back and think about the Affirmative’s reasoning behind installing cameras. Cameras lead to transparency and transparency leads to accountability. Remember what every Ethos coach has said at one time or another: look for shared assumptions.
Do you know the assumption? Well, now you will. (But it won’t get you out of jury duty unfortunately.) The key assumption is that accountability is good. Normally, that would be a fine assumption. I don’t think anyone would argue that the NSA or any other executive agency shouldn’t be more accountable. However, think about accountability in the context of the Supreme Court. Who are Supreme Court justices more accountable to?
The affirmative’s answer will most likely be the people. But is that a good thing? Should the whims of the people be the basis of SCOTUS decisions? That’s a great question and a great debate. Conversely, that debate is lost if the structural inherency argument is pursued.
#2) Reporters Stink
The second argument given up by running structural inherency is more of a solvency-esque debate, once again attacking the core assumptions in the affirmative team’s plan. Remember the core belief, cameras lead to transparency and transparency leads to accountability. The key factor linking transparency and accountability is the American public knowing about the questionable behavior in question.
Furthermore, where do the majority of people get their news from? From sources such as Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and a host of other online blogs and pundits. There’s a whole Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened about the quality of information getting to the people and whether that information will actually be an accurate representation of what happened in the courtroom. So, can cameras inform people so that people can hold the court accountable?
I don’t know for sure, but, it’s a far better debate to have than one about whether the Supreme Court would rule something constitutional.
#3) Significance Topicality
The third and final argument given up when running structural inherency is a great topicality/significance press. Now, you may thinking, topicality and significance, aren’t those weak and narrow-minded issues to bring up against this case? Normally, you’d be right, but this is the exception to the rule.
Think about huge issues in the federal court system for a moment. What about the fact that only about 5% of cases make it to trial? What about the bail system that keeps thousands of innocent and poor people in prison? What about cases involving the FISA court and surveillance? Do you see what I’m getting at? A debater should show ten or so legitimate problems in the federal court system. If you’re not fixing a big one, it’s not a significant “reform”.
Thankfully, the word is “reform” not “change”. In other words, we’re here to fix stuff and making minute changes really doesn’t matter in comparison to the huge issues the federal court system faces.
So, What Now?
There are three great opportunities for the cameras debate: You could debate the big-picture idea of judicial independence. You could debate the big-picture effects of how Americans receive their information. You could debate the big-picture idea that when we are called to reform something, that means fixing big problems.
However, all three of the debates are lost when you focus on the structural inherency argument mentioned earlier. So why did I bring it up? Because there are so many great debates to have this year. But debating over inherency isn’t one of them. So take the new knowledge you’ve gained and argue at the crux of the debate and not at the peripherals.