Argument Tier List (Aff) | Truth-Seeking > Privacy | Stoa LD 2019

As we’ve done with the NCFCA (here and here, if you’re curious), we’re going to take a look at the state of the metagame for the Stoa LD Resolution:

“Criminal procedure should value truth-seeking above individual privacy.”

Below is an incomplete list of popular arguments for Stoa LD Affirmatives, along with my thoughts on their competitive potential.

Preface: This is a great tool for prep, but it can’t predict what will happen in a live round. Take every opponent seriously. An excellent rating does not guarantee victory, and a weak rating does not guarantee defeat.

If your case or arguments are given a poor rating here, critically evaluate the feedback. Decide if you agree that my concerns apply to your specific case. Maybe you have a specific spin that makes the argument unique. Don’t throw out your case just because it got a low rating in this article. Instead, use the feedback to find specific ways to strengthen your case.


Privacy Helps Criminals: The Peer-Reviewed Statistics.

The exclusionary rule is a legal doctrine that dismisses evidence obtained by a 4th amendment violation. Economists have studied this rule and found that it increased crime, because it drops the legal risk for criminals (“Hey, we can get away with this easily!”) and ups the risk for officers (“One mistake in the search, and we lose all of our evidence. Why bother searching?”) Read the whole paper and understand it to wield its full power. No one will expect you to have statistics on this, yet here you are. Use this a case study and outweigh minor privacy violations as the cost of progress: now you control the round.

Truth-Seeking Closes Loopholes

Privacy regulations create a maze of legal semantics: brute technicalities that frustrate well-intended officers. “You’re telling me that because the search came a day after the warrant expired, the felon gets acquitted without charge? C’mon!” You want the judge to be frustrated by pesky privacy regulations. Supporting truth-seeking lets us cut through them and get back to common sense justice.


Privacy Helps Criminals: The Single Application.

A team of heroic cops risked their lives to find the fingerprints of this murderer. This evidence is the silver bullet of the investigation. But unfortunately, due to a minor legal infraction, their search will be considered a violation of 4th amendment privacy protections. Bye bye, evidence. And hello Mr. Axe Murderer, who will now roam the streets with the rest of us. While these examples are rare, they are powerful. Use them to point out how privacy obstructs justice and gives criminals the freedom they don’t deserve.

Privacy is Transactional

We give up privacy all the time in exchange for the things we want. Signing up for an email? You’re trading your name and birthdate to communicate with the rest of the human population. Opening a credit card? You’re trading your address and social for financial convenience. Opening the blinds of your windows? You’re trading a view of your living room for better selfie lighting. Criminal procedure is no different: we allow officers to search private spaces so that they can better do their job.


Application: Search Warrants

Search warrants violate privacy by decreasing someone’s ability to hold secrets. It’s really hard to be private when they’re allowed to kick in the door without your permission. However, this application is easily wash turned by a negative who points to the legal system: warrants have built into them countless restrictions that protect our privacy (officers can’t search in any way they want). Be wary of running this application: neither side can win it decisively.

Truth is Intrinsically Good

This says that since truth-seeking exposes the facts of the case, it’s always good: it either vindicates the innocent, or it exposes the guilty. What do you have to hide? But this is sort of like arguing that free speech should be done away with because you don’t have anything to say. It’s difficult to argue that privacy violations are always good; after all, it seems that there are some violations of privacy that are dehumanizing (think getting your door kicked in because the government didn’t like what you just tweeted). Be careful about burning privacy to the ground.


The Supreme Court Agrees with Me

Even assuming that what SCOTUS decided seems to be in favor of the resolution, this is still lacking. If you don’t justify why the Supreme Court is right with analysis of your own, this kind of application is paper thin. Also, courts reverse their decisions all the time. Resting the validity of your case on the fact that the court sided with you is not a sustainable strategy.

Lawbreakers are Evil

Affirmatives relying purely on examples of petty crime need to be careful. Laws say lots of things: like that you can’t remove the tag on your mattress or cross the street when you want to. To most people, breaking into someone’s home to issue them a citation is going a little overboard. If you’re relying on applications, make sure they’re as powerful as they can be.


Only America Has Criminal Procedure

I don’t know why this comes at a shock, but America is not the only country in the world that apprehends and punishes criminals. They’re also not the only one that has procedures for how they interact with these criminals. Stating that the US is the only country that has criminal procedure isn’t just unreasonable, it’s false. Affirmatives will need to find better ways to respond to applications than by pointing out that they happened in a country we don’t live in.

Truth-Seeking Doesn’t Violate Privacy

Sometimes we can investigate crimes without touching privacy (say we found all the clues in an abandoned building). This example does nothing for either side. The resolution says we need to choose truth-seeking over privacy, so bringing up examples where we don’t need to choose either side won’t get us anywhere. Focus on the choice: and argue that privacy violations are worth the cost.

Negative tier list coming next week.