Mdta lincoln-Douglas Novice Packet



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MDTA Lincoln-Douglas Novice Packet

Introduction:


This packet is intended to provide a starting-off point for novice Lincoln-Douglas debaters on the Minnesota September-October resolution:
RESOLVED: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.
The evidence included is not lined-down and the cases are meant to serve only as examples of how arguments can be framed around the topic. The MDTA encourages you to use this packet to get your students up and debating as quickly and easily as possible. Of course, however, this packet is just a starting place and there are many arguments and pieces of evidence beyond those included below.


Table of Contents


Introduction: 1

Affirmative Case: 2

Affirmative Evidence: 5

Legitimate and Illegitimate Laws 5

The Dangers of Majority Rule 7

Civil Disobedience is a right 7

Civil Disobedience Works 9

Negative Case: 12

Negative Evidence: 14

The importance of law and social order 14

The importance of majority rule 15

Civil Disobedience is harmful and immoral 16

Alternatives to Civil Disobedience 19



Affirmative Case:


I affirm the resolution: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.


In order to clarify the round I offer the following definitions:
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines Democracy as a “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority”1
Professor Berel Lang defines Civil Disobedience as meeting the following criteria:

(1) the act will involve violation of a law;

(2) the act will be performed intentionally, part of the intention being to effect change in the law violated or in a related law or policy;

(3) the Person will make generally known their responsibility for the act and be willing to accept the punishment fixed by law for it.” 2

Ethics consultant and philosophy Ph.D. Chris MacDonald defines morally justified as:



a course of action is justified if there are better reasons in favor of it than there are against it. Preferably, these reasons should be ones that other people could agree are good ones. It is this sense of justification that is important for morality. Moral justification, then, means showing that there are more or better moral reasons weighing for a course of action than against it.3
The value is MORALITY. The resolution fundamentally asks us to weigh the moral reasons in favor of civil disobedience against the moral reasons counseling against it. Therefore morality is the end-goal of the resolution. It is important to note here that given the definition of morally justified, the resolution is comparative. In other words, simply providing one example or set of examples where civil disobedience would not be justified is not sufficient to negate the resolution. Rather, both sides have a burden to prove their position as a general rule.
The standard is rights protection. People come together to form democracies in order to ensure that their rights are protected. Democracies are only acting morally, then, when rights are protected. All impacts must link back to citizens’ rights.
Contention 1: Civil disobedience is a fundamental right that allows other rights to be protected from unjust laws.

Associate Professor Susan Tiefenbrun explains.



Within the liberal-democratic tradition, civil disobedience can be considered as a fundamental part of the right to rebel against unfair laws and tyrannical government. It is possible to argue that civil disobedience, as a dimension of the right to rebel constitutes a fundamental human right. Even more, I would like to argue that The right to rebel is not simply another human right, but the most important human right we have. In fact, without acknowledging the existence of a right to rebel, the very idea of human rights ceases to make any sense. We need to remember that the dominant discourse of human rights emerged out of the mass rebellions of the American and French Revolutions. Within modern society, it was the exercise of the right to rebel that opened the possibility for us to contemplate today the very notion of human rights. The right to rebel underwrites and creates the foundation for every human right to exist, its full exercise therefore becoming the only effective avenue of political defiance when those rights are under attack by conservative forces.” 4
Tiedenbrun explains that civil disobedience is a prerequisite to all other human rights, because without the ability to protect and defend ones self against unfairness by the government, human rights as a whole cease to exist. Simply put, without civil disobedience, our rights would be useless, and governments could potentially be as tyrannical and unfair as they wish. Because of this, civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice, since the protection of our rights is paramount in the achievement of justice for all.
Contention two: citizens of a democracy serve as an important check within the government. The citizens have a right and duty to show their government its flaws. Paul F. Power elaborates;

Civil disobedience has functional utility for the regime in a second respect, through informing it of its misuse of power according to systemic ideals. The abuses may have resulted from pretensions to sanctity, inefficiency, or elitism. In effect, civil disobedience enlightens the regime, permitting its decision makers to learn about their misconduct from outside sources. Because of constraints, those who engage in civil disobedience contest illicit acts of the regime, not the regime's 1egitimacy. If a positive response ensues, a third, possible effect of civil disobedience may be the regime’s correction of abuses through executive, legislative, or judicial action5
Not only is civil disobedience a fundamental right but it is also an effective way to show a government the flaws within its systems. These flaws can range from an unwanted war to the oppression of an entire race. Because of the monstrous effects these flaws may have the citizens play an important role in preventing their occurrence.
Contention three: Civil disobedience has brought about successful and useful changes throughout history. Kayla Starr explains,
Throughout the history of the U.S., civil disobedience has played a significant role in many of the social reforms that we all take for granted today. Some of the most well known of these are:

1) The Boston Tea Party -- citizens of the colony of Massachusetts trespassed on a British ship and threw its cargo (tea from England) overboard, rather than be forced to pay taxes without representation to Britain. This was one of the many acts of civil disobedience leading to the War for Independence, establishing the United States of America as a sovereign state.


2) Anti-war movements have been a part of U.S. history since Thoreau went to jail for refusing to participate in the U.S. war against Mexico, in 1849. More recent examples were the nationwide protests against the war in Viet Nam, U.S. involvement in Nicaragua and Central America, and the Gulf War. Actions have included refusal to pay for war, refusal to enlist in the military, occupation of draft centers, sit-ins, blockades, peace camps, and refusal to allow military recruiters on high school and college campuses.
3) The Women's Suffrage Movement lasted from 1848 until 1920, when thousands of courageous women marched in the streets, endured hunger strikes, and submitted to arrest and jail in order to gain the right to vote.
4) [The] Abolition of slavery -- including Harriet Tubman's underground railway, giving sanctuary, and other actions which helped to end slavery.
5) The introduction of labor laws and unions. Sit-down strikes organized by the IWW, and CIO free speech confrontations led to the eradication of child labor and improved working conditions, established the 40-hour work week and improved job security and benefits.
6) The Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, included sit-ins and illegal marches which weakened segregation in the south.
7) The Anti-Nuclear Movement, stimulated by people like Karen Silkwood and the Three Mile Island nuclear power accident, organized citizens throughout the country into direct action affinity groups, with consensus decision making and Gandhian nonviolence as its core. Massive acts of civil disobedience took place at nuclear power facilities across the country, followed by worldwide protests against first-strike nuclear weapons, occupying military bases, maintaining peace camps, interfering with manufacture and transport of nuclear bombs and devices, marching, sitting in, blockading and otherwise disrupting business as usual at nuclear sites.
8) [and] Environmental and forest demonstrations, with acts of civil disobedience such as sit ins, blockades, tree sits and forest occupations, have emerged in the last decade, prompted by the continuing mass clear cuts and destruction of the forest ecosystem and widespread environmental consequences.

In all of these struggles, citizens had reached the conclusion that the legal means for addressing their concerns had not worked. They had tried petitioning, lobbying, writing letters, going to court, voting for candidates that represented their interests, legal protest, and still their views were ignored.”6
Thus, they resorted to civil disobedience, which brought about real results in the fight for justice. Without civil disobedience, none of these demonstrations and changes could have possibly occurred.
Because of these reasons, civil disobedience is not only an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice, but a necessary one. As such, I urge an affirmative ballot.

Affirmative Evidence:




Legitimate and Illegitimate Laws

Karen M. Gebbia-Pinetti, “Statutory Interpretation, Democratic Legitimacy and Legal-System Values,” Seton Hall Legislative Journal, v. 21, 1997, p. 240-42.

Law is the foundational mechanism of social interaction and the reflection of how a society organizes itself. A legal system will be “good,” “just,” “fair,” or “workable” only if it structures societal relations and resolves disputes well enough to earn the respect and adherence of the public and, thereby, to prevent societal collapse. Throughout history, and across legal systems, theorists have employed similar, functional meta-principles as criteria by which to measure how well law accomplishes these tasks. These criteria, which I term “legal-system values,” are that law be predictable, replicable, vertically coherent across time, horizontally coherent across related areas of law, responsive to societal needs and values, responsive to changes in society and in societal values, influential in fostering individual and societal growth and shaping values or morals, and fair and just in individual cases.
Karen M. Gebbia-Pinetti, “Statutory Interpretation, Democratic Legitimacy and Legal-System Values,” Seton Hall Legislative Journal, v. 21, 1997, p. 252-53.

Finally, society expects the law to produce results that are fair and just in individual cases. For purposes of this discussion, "fairness" is defined primarily by procedural standards such as notice and due process. A procedural view of fairness emphasizes that, if the law's consequences are known and the laws are applied neutrally, persons affected can take steps to avoid violating the law. Thus, the “no dogs” statute is fair if it is applied without bias to anyone bringing a dog into the park. Procedural fairness may not, however, ensure substantive "justice," which, for purposes of this discussion, focuses on consequences. The distinction between fairness and justice is particularly important if the law or legal processes themselves might be biased or non-neutral in operation. This is, of course, one issue raised by critical legal scholars, who do not trust procedure to work in a fair and unbiased fashion to achieve substantive justice.


Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy @ Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 1999
Christopher B. Gray (ed.), Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia, Garland Pub. Co, 1999, II.110- 113

Objection: We must obey the law under a contract with other members of our society. We have tacitly consented to the laws by residing in the state and enjoying its benefits.

Reply: Obviously this objection can be evaded by anyone who denies the social contract theory. But surprisingly many disobedient activists affirm that theory, making this an objection they must answer. Socrates makes this objection to Crito who is encouraging him to disobey the law by escaping from prison before he is executed. Thoreau and Gandhi both reply (as part of larger, more complex replies) that those who object deeply to the injustices committed by the state can, and should, relinquish the benefits they receive from the state by living a life of voluntary simplicity and poverty; this form of sacrifice is in effect to revoke one's tacit consent to obey the law. Another of Thoreau's replies is that consent to join a society and obey its laws must always be express, and never tacit. But even for Locke, whose social contract theory introduces the term "tacit consent," the theory permits disobedience, even revolution, if the state breaches its side of the contract. A reply from the natural law tradition, used by King, is that an unjust law is not even a law, but a perversion of law (Augustine, Aquinas). Hence, consent to obey the laws does not extend to unjust laws. A reply made by many Blacks, women, and native Americans is that the duty to obey is a matter of degree; if they are not fully enfranchised members of American society, then they are not fully bound by its laws.
Joseph Raz, Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Colombia Law School, 2003
“About Morality And The Nature Of Law.” The American Journal of Jurisprudence. 48 Am. J. Juris. 1

The fact that the general duty to obey may depend on systemic features of the law does not, of course, show that it is compatible with a proper conception of how evil the law can be, and of how much injustice and oppression, etc., it may cause. It is unlikely that the systemic moral qualities of the law are entirely independent of, entirely unaffected by, the moral qualities of the content of the law, that is, of the moral content of the laws which constitute it. How are we, then, to assess the claim that there is a general obligation to obey?

Howard Zinn, former professor at Boston University, 1968 
“Seven guidelines for civil disobedience.” Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and Order. pp. 119-122 Online.

There is no social value to a general obedience to the law, any more than there is value to a general disobedience to the law. Obedience to bad laws as a way of inculcating some abstract subservience to “the rule of law” can only encourage the already strong tendencies of citizens to bow to the power of authority, to desist from challenging the status quo. To exalt the rule of law as an absolute is the mark of totalitarianism, and it is possible to have an atmosphere of totalitarianism in a society which has many of the attributes of democracy. To urge the right of citizens to disobey unjust laws, and the duty of citizens to disobey dangerous laws, is of the very essence of democracy, which assumes that government and its laws are not sacred, but are instruments, serving certain ends: life, liberty, happiness. The instruments are dispensable. The ends are not.


The Dangers of Majority Rule

Elias Berg, Democracy and the Majority Principle: A Study in Twelve Contemporary Political Theories, 1965, p. 27-28.

It is true that the use of the majority principle implies a formal right to express a preference on the issues to be decided; to that extent, it implies the legitimacy of opposition. Yet as we have seen above, majority decisions may be regarded as ipso facto 'right' and thereby, once they have been made, as sacrosanct and exempt from criticism. The use of the majority principle is therefore compatible with a majority dictatorship in which the minority's formal right of opposition is only of temporary duration. Moreover, even if all the citizens have the right to criticize as well as to take part in the making of decisions, some citizens may be permanently in the minority and may be constantly overruled by a majority refusing to make any concessions to their demands; the use of the majority principle does not necessarily preclude majority tyranny." as harmless and permissible or be regarded as obstructive and thereby as illegitimate.

Civil Disobedience is a right

Henry David Thoreau, Philosopher and American Hero, 1849
“Civil Disobedience.” Online.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

Kayla Starr, Civil Disobedience Activist, Summer 1998 “The Role of Civil Disobedience in Democracy.” The Civil Liberties Monitoring Project. Online.

Gandhi, who profoundly influenced nonviolent disobedience movements in the 20th century, stated that "Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good." Non- cooperation is not intended as a hostile act against police officers and jail guards. An understood theoretical basis is that nonviolent protest draws its strength from open confrontation and non- cooperation, i.e., civil disobedience. We retain as much power as we refuse to relinquish to the government. Non-cooperation is a form of resistance that is used to reaffirm our position that we are not criminals and that we are taking positive steps toward freeing the world of oppression and environmental suicide.

Marjorie E. Kornhauser, Professor of Law Tulane Law School, Fall, 2002
“Legitimacy And The Right Of Revolution: The Role Of Tax Protests And Anti-Tax Rhetoric In America.” Buffalo Law Review, 50 Buffalo L. Rev. 819

The right of revolution is also inherent in civil disobedience, an honored tradition in the United States dating back to Colonial times, because it recognizes that even in a democracy, the state's sovereignty is bound by the moral authority of the individual, who is morally obligated to resist immoral laws. n112 This resistance does not necessarily lead to violence, and in fact most people who believe and practice civil disobedience do not advocate violence. n113 Yet it is a potential consequence of civil disobedience, and indeed it occurred during the civil rights movement. n114

Dr Sergio Fiedler, Professor of Social Inquiry at the University of Technology Sydney, November 8, 2002; "Civil Disobedience Today." Research Initiative on International Activism. Online.

We could approach the question of civil disobedience from a number of perspectives. Within the liberal-democratic tradition, civil disobedience can be considered as a fundamental part of the right to rebel against unfair laws and tyrannical government. By giving a radical twist to this argument, it is possible to argue that civil disobedience, as dimension of the right to rebel constitutes a fundamental human right. Even more, I would like to argue that the right to rebel is not simply another human right, but the most important human right we have. In fact, without acknowledging the existence of a right to rebel, the very idea of human rights ceases to make any sense. We need to remember that the dominant discourse of human rights emerged out of the mass rebellions of the American and French Revolutions. Within modern society, it was the exercise of the right to rebel the one that opened the possibility for us to contemplate today the very notion of human rights. The right to rebel underwrites and creates the foundation for every human right to exist, its full exercise therefore becoming the only effective avenue of political defiance when those rights are under attack by conservative forces.

John Rawls, “Civil Disobedience” in Philosophy of Law, edited by Joel Feinberg and Hyman Gross (1991), p. 117 (a reprint from the original publication in A Theory of Justice by John Rawls, 1971).

In a democratic society, then, it is recognized that each citizen is responsible for his interpretation of the principles of justice and for his conduct in light of them. There can be no legal or socially approved rendering of these principles that we are always morally bound to accept, not even when it is given by a supreme court or legislature.

Civil Disobedience Works


Paul F. Power, “Civil Disobedience as Functional Opposition,” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 34, No. 1 (February, 1972), 45.

Civil disobedience may be of possible utility to conventional oppositional groups in several ways: (1) Civil disobedience communicates to other opponents demands that they were unaware of or that they may have agreed to overlook—either among themselves or with that regime. (2) A conceivable result of (1) is that one or more of the opponents becomes uncomfortable and begins to perform a adversary role with the regime. (3) On the assumption that oppositions are already acting as adversaries against the regime, civil disobedience causes them to enter a tacit or express coalition among themselves, thereby increasing their combined adversary power over the sum of their previous, individual strengths. (4) Civil disobedience pluralizes a highly unified, oppositional pattern—a functional benefit if this kind of result is conducive to oppositional effectiveness vis à vis the regime. (5) Civil disobedience provokes conventional opponents of the regime to reexamine their constituency bases to determine how they have failed to represent those dissenters who have chosen rule breaking over ordinary means of criticism; it compels them to take remedial action to regain the sympathy and voting power of these dissenters and their followers.

Dr James Goodman, Professor of Social Inquiry @ the University of Technology Sydney, November 8, 2002; "Civil Disobedience Today." Research Initiative on International Activism. Online.

Civil disobedience breaks laws but it also makes laws. Non-violent actions have been at the heart of many of the great social and environmental advances in modern historical times, from freedom of speech to women’s right to vote. For the Greens peaceful, constructive protest is seen as crucial to bringing about social change. So we welcome any opportunity to discuss the history and philosophy of civil disobedience.

Dr Sergio Fiedler, Professor of Social Inquiry at the University of Technology Sydney, November 8, 2002; "Civil Disobedience Today." Research Initiative on International Activism. Online.

What a profound act of dignity and civility were the fences of Woomera falling down in the middle of desert last March. This action was an extraordinary because it was encounter of two vastly distinct and multiple cultural worlds creating a third space for inter-cultural communication, that was far more legitimate and effective than the bland discourse of official multiculturalism. Woomera 2002 highlights what is, at least for me, the most important dimensions of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience opens the possibility for the “enacted utopia” of the anti-statist and anti-capitalist public sphere. Following Slavoj Zizek, it is possible to argue that civil disobedience is the radical political act where a world inclusive of many worlds is not simply a distant promise, but the suspension of the oppressive temporality of the existing social order through which the possibility of that new world manifests itself in the actual moment of civil disobedience.

Joseph Raz, Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Colombia Law School, 2003
“About Morality And The Nature Of Law.” The American Journal of Jurisprudence. 48 Am. J. Juris. 1

The second rejoinder, that the conditions of the government being just or democratic do not suffice to establish an obligation to obey, is more plausible. The problem is that being just, or being democratic, when they are systemic properties of the law, are consistent with individual laws being unjust, or pointless, or oppressive. The question is: is there an obligation to obey such a law, for if there is not there is no obligation to obey the law generally. One answer, and obviously there are many others which I will just have to ignore here, is that it is necessary to support a just institution, a just government and legal system. This is again an empirical question, and I believe that there is plenty of evidence that the better argument is different. Just governments and legal systems, generally speaking, work better with less than perfect compliance. This statement should not be misread. I do not mean that a few murders are better than none. I mean that there are many laws regarding which occasional breach by their subjects, and the occasional turning of a blind eye by the authorities make them achieve their goals with fewer injustices, and less friction with resisting populations. Besides, though here one's sense of justice may cloud one's impressionistic empirical judgment, a population ready to defy pointless, unjust and oppressive laws does more to preserve the just character of governments and their laws than a docile population willing to eat whatever it is dished out.

Dr Sergio Fiedler, Professor of Social Inquiry at the University of Technology Sydney, November 8, 2002; "Civil Disobedience Today." Research Initiative on International Activism. Online.

Here the logic of civil disobedience is not simply about breaking the law, but breaking the law in order to make the antagonisms that exist obscured and hidden within our society visible. When demonstrators blockaded the ACM offices last year and denied people entry to it, they were not about promoting violence but signifying in both a physical and symbolic way the violence of incarceration suffered by thousands of refugees in Australia; it was about bringing for a brief moment the reality of the detention camps to the “respectable” space of Sydney’s CBD. Moreover, acts of civil disobedience like this become real schools of political science. By making social antagonism visible, people not only learn about their ability and power to work together and enact change collectively, but also about the role of the media, the police and government in managing or suppressing dissent.

Rex Martin, “Civil Disobedience,” Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kansas, Ethics, Vol. 80, No. 2 (January 1970), 136-137.

But there is good reason to consider...the ability to provide laws and policies which commend themselves to the reflective judgment of citizens. It is, perhaps, the breakdown of authority in this...sense that has made disobedience to law seem plausible in our time.

The fact that authority can fail in these respects is...good reason to provide to provide suitable procedural safeguards: not just to safeguard the judgment and conscience of the individual in matters of substance, but also to safeguard democratic authority itself.

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003; “Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

Jefferson's "spirit of resistance" refers to both the right of revolution and the right of civil disobedience. Non-violent resistance is a compromise, a way to safely vent emotion about unjust laws, a middle ground between blind obedience to tyrannical rulers or unjust laws and outright revolution. n5 Before the American Revolution, the founding fathers reasoned that resistance to unlawful acts could not be deemed per se "illegal," but they also understood that resistance and revolution were not legally available to them within the judicial procedure for redress of grievances set up by the British government. n6 Even after the Revolution, the spirit of resistance continued and was particularly noticeable in Massachusetts, where throughout the l780s citizens organized committees and conventions to protest high taxes and to urge reform of the state constitution. n7 When the committees failed, the people turned to mob action and actually closed down the state courts in the famous Shays' Rebellion of l786 -87. n8


Negative Case:

I negate the resolution, resolved; “In a democracy, civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice.”


The value is MORALITY. The resolution fundamentally asks us to weigh the moral reasons in favor of civil disobedience against the moral reasons counseling against it. Therefore morality is the end-goal of the resolution. It is important to note here that given the definition of morally justified, the resolution is comparative. In other words, simply providing one example or set of examples where civil disobedience would be justified is not sufficient to affirm the resolution. Rather, both sides have a burden to prove their position as a general rule.
The standard is RIGHTS PROTECTION. People come together to form democracies in order to ensure that their rights are protected. Democracies are only acting morally, then, when rights are protected. All impacts must link back to citizens’ rights.
Contention one: civil disobedience undermines the democratic process. As members of a democracy, citizens have say in the creation of the laws, thus they consent to them. For civil disobedience to destroy those laws is unjust, Carl Cohen explains

Every citizen of a lawful government, then, has a most important duty to obey its laws.  That is true whatever the form of government … Where each citizen has a proportionate voice in the making and the framing of laws (either directly or through representatives), his acceptance of this role as partial legislator commits him yet more strongly to abide the laws of that body.” 7

Cohen explains clearly how citizens’ voices are what shape a just government. To allow minorities to un-proportionately voice their ideas by side stepping laws destroys the democratic system.


Second,

This articulates the key problem with civil disobedience. Every law may look just or unjust to different perspectives however civil disobedience would allow any person to act against any law they didn’t like, regardless of majority consent or legal means. This opens the society as a whole up for anarchy as laws become devoid of meaning and laws are broken meaninglessly.

Contention one: civil disobedience can support legitimate and illegitimate causes. The action “civil disobedience” has no inherent moral quality because it can yield both good and bad results. Similarly “driving” can be both just and unjust, on one hand you can drive someone to the hospital and on the other hand you can hit the person with your car so they have to go to the hospital. Thus, while there may be legitimate outcomes of civil disobedience we must also look at what else it would justify. It would justify any citizen acting out against any law they felt needed change. The inherent repercussions could involve murder, riots, terrorism and more. Because civil disobedience always violates the rights of citizens who have come together to agree upon laws, it always harms rights. However, civil disobedience does not necessarily guarantee rights as it is often just a tool for people to circumvent the democratic process. Indeed, civil disobedience hinders rather than helps the fight for justice. Leon Jaworski in the Morality and the Law, 1988, p. 87 elaborates

One of the most appalling and frightening of the trends in recent years is the self-serving practice of choosing which laws or court orders to obey and which to defy. The preachments that generate this attitude are cancerously dangerous to our system of government under law. To rest upon or hide behind the claim that if one’s conscience speaks to the contrary, justification exists for ignoring laws or decrees are but to say that the rule of law is not to be the governing yardstick of our society’s conduct. It is dangerous to allow people to choose the laws they obey and there is no way to judge whether or not that law is unjust.8

Contention three: there are more legitimate avenues than civil disobedience. Susan Tiefenbrun explains



The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to dissent, to protest, to assemble peaceably, to criticize a law or government, and to oppose a law. The more difficult question is how one may permissibly dissent if a person's first legal and moral imperative is to obey the law. Using means of opposition and dissent that are permissible under the U.S. system of law will not subject a dissenter to punishment by the state. The right to dissent may be exercised by the use of written and spoken words, by acts or conduct such as picketing, "peaceable" mass assembly, sit-ins and demonstrations, which are referred to as "symbolic speech." The basic means of permissible protest under the U.S. system is the right to vote, "the right to organize and to elect new officials to enact and administer the law."9
And the list goes on, lobbying, writing letters, going through the courts, etc. can all achieve the desired ends of changing a law without the negative harms of civil disobedience. Each is different from civil disobedience in one key way; they don’t require breaking the law to change it.
Thus, because Civil disobedience can support clearly unjust things, because there are alternatives that legally and legitimately achieve the desired ends, and because Civil disobedience twists and destroys the democratic process, I urge a negative ballot.

Negative Evidence:




The importance of law and social order

Emil Brunner, Justice and the Social Order, 1945, p. 175.


In a state of anarchy, no justice is possible, since ‘the devoutest of men cannot live in peace if his wicked neighbor does not so desire.’ But under a unified coercive power, however little it may trouble about justice, justice is at any rate possible since the mutual use of force by individuals is eliminated by the State monopolization of power.

Noel B. Reynolds, “Grounding the Rule of Law,” Ratio Juris, v. 2, no. 1, March 1989, p. 5.


Law addresses the problem of human nature at two levels. It provides authoritarian rules of conduct for all to observe in the pursuit of their own ends, rules which provide order in that they establish legitimate expectations for such conduct. Furthermore, these procedures and other official structures can be consciously constructed in ways that discourage inventive self-seekers from perverting the designedly neutral process of law to private advantage.

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003; “Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

There is much opposition to civil disobedience. For the past two thousand years, philosophers have asked themselves whether one has an obligation to obey a law that is unjust. Scholars have grounded an obligation to obey unjust laws in six different legal theories. These [*694] include the duty to obey the law out of gratitude to an existing legal system (i.e. Socrates and Plato's Crito); the duty to obey the law because of the individual's contractual agreement or consent to obey (i.e. John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau); the duty to obey because of the negative consequences of disobedience; the duty to obey out of fairness; the duty to obey in order to support just institutions (i.e. H.L.A. Hart and John Rawl's theory), and the duty to obey in order to support your community (i.e. Ronald Dworkin's theory).

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003; “Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW. 32 SW. U. L. REV. 677

Another argument, based on the Machiavellian principle that laudable ends do not justify purely illegal means, is often used by law and order supporters who refuse to consider the benign motivation of civil disobedient. They argue that to legitimize civil disobedience is contrary to a system governed by respect for the rule of law. n138 Erwin Griswold, cited by Dworkin, believes that it is of the essence of law that it is equally applied to all, that it binds all alike, irrespective of personal motive. For this reason, one who contemplates civil disobedience out of moral conviction should not be surprised and must not be bitter if a criminal conviction ensues ... organized society cannot endure on any other basis. n139

M. B. E. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Smith College, 1996
“The Duty To Obey The Law.” From D. Patterson, ed., COMPANION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF LAW AND LEGAL THEORY, 465-74 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996).

Few issues in jurisprudence have received so much attention in recent years as whether citizens have a distinctive moral duty to obey the law. Yet the differences among the disputants might well seem slender to the unprofessional eye. No one holds that the duty is absolute: even its most passionate advocates allow that it is sometimes morally permissible to disobey the law,! as when abolitionists aided runaway slaves before the American Civil War. But neither does anyone advocate open or frequent disobedience. Those who doubt the supposed duty yet hold that we very often have a strong moral reason to do what the law requires independently of its commands, e.g., not to assault, cheat or rob others. The doubters allow that we are obligated to obey whenever the law has established patterns of conduct that are dangerous to depart from, such as driving to the left in Great Britain. They believe that disobedience is permissible only when there is no independent moral reason to obey or when the weight of independent reasons favors disobedience; and they do not suppose that in reasonably just societies these conditions obtain often. Finally, those who are skeptical about the duty of obedience nonetheless prize the great social benefits that quite obviously can only be achieved through government; and they believe that one which is reasonably just deserve! s its citizens' cooperation and support. It therefore seems probable that the putative duty's advocates and disbelievers alike would virtually always agree in their judgments of particular illegal conduct--or at least that any differences between them would not flow from their disagreement about the philosophical issue.

The importance of majority rule

Willmoore Kendall, Univ. of Dallas, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Ru le, 1965, p. 108.

Here are a group of people united together in order to enjoy the benefits of just and reasonable government. A difference arises amongst them as to what is just and reasonable, and investigation reveals that the opposing factions consist of one individual, on the one side, and the remainder of the community, on the other side. Does either have a right to impose its view of what is just and reasonable upon the other? Can either judge impartially in what is, by definition, its own cause? Locke's theory of popular sovereignty obliges him to answer the second question in the affirmative, and the first with the words, Yes, the rest of the community has such a right. And, since the only difference between the two (the community minus one of its members, and the individual) which leaps to the eye is that the one is many individuals and the latter is only one, he is obliged to say that numbers guarantee impartiality.
Willmoore Kendall, Univ. of Dallas, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule, 1965, p. 112.

Wherever men live in community with one another, he is saying, the relations between them can be described in terms of an agreement which, in addition to assigning to the whole community that unlimited power which we have examined in the preceding section, assigns to its numerical majority a right to make decisions (regarding the use of that power) which are binding upon the minority. The majority-principle is, in a word, implicit in the logic of community life.


Willmoore Kendall, Univ. of Dallas, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule, 1965, p. 132.

Locke can, to be sure, be quoted as saying that 'where the body of the people, or any single man, are deprived of their right, or are under the exercise of a power without right, ... they have a liberty to appeal to Heaven whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment,' and we have so quoted him. He can be quoted ... as saying that the right to judge whether or not to appeal to Heaven is something which the individual cannot part with ... But it is in this same passage that he says that the principle in question 'operates not till the inconvenience be so great that the majority ... find a necessity to have it amended'! And it is only a few pages later that he defends the people's (= the majority's) right to revolution in terms of the fact that 'the examples of particular injustice or oppression of here and there an unfortunate man moves them not.'


Civil Disobedience is harmful and immoral

Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy @ Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 1999
Christopher B. Gray (ed.), Philosophy of Law: An Encyclopedia, Garland Pub. Co, 1999, II.110- 113

What if everybody did it? Civil disobedience fails Kant's universalizability test. Most critics prefer to press this objection as a slippery slope argument; the objection then has descriptive and normative versions. In the descriptive version, one predicts that the example of dis obedient will be imitated, increasing lawlessness and tending toward anarchy. In the normative version, one notes that if disobedience is justified for one group whose moral beliefs condemn the law, then it is justified for any group similarly situated, which is a recipe for anarchy.
Fredrik Bendz, Professor of Philosophy at Uppsala University, Sweden, 1997 “Civil Disobedience: Introduction.” Online.

Disobedience is a forceful way of having society do things your way. Even a small group of citizens can, with only a little effort, cause great destruction on the infrastructure of a country. The problem with this is that a small terror group without any mandate from the rest of the population may consider themselves to be the righteous ones. Some Anarchists even think that they are acting in the best interest of society, even though the people sympathize neither with their ends nor their means. These people seem to think that they are somehow superior, and that the others don't know their own best. This is a kind of elitist thinking that I cannot accept.

Marjorie E. Kornhauser, Professor of Law Tulane Law School, Fall, 2002
 “Legitimacy And The Right Of Revolution: The Role Of Tax Protests And Anti-Tax Rhetoric In America.” Buffalo Law Review, 50 Buffalo L. Rev. 819

4. Crisis in Legitimacy. Although Americans have an innate distrust of government, as described in I.B.2, this distrust has increased over the past thirty five years among all demographic segments and regardless of economic prosperity. n150 This increased distrust is an acute example of widespread feelings of alienation and distrust of government in democracies around the world. This trend has been so profound that some have called it a crisis in [*874] legitimacy. n151 Whether this crisis, if it exists, matters, is not clear. Theory suggests that the more trust the populace has in its government, the more the populace will voluntarily comply with its laws. There is, however, little empirical evidence that this is true on a day to day level, except in regards to taxation. In this area, studies indicate that a belief in fairness does increase tax compliance. n152 Contemporary evidence of widespread tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance lends anecdotal support to this connection. n153 [*875] Consequently, given the evidence of the connection among fairness, trust, tax compliance and the centrality of taxation to government, it seems foolish to ignore any marked decline in confidence.

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003
“Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

After the Revolution, when mobs turned against the newborn American government, many American leaders began to question the appropriateness of the old "spirit of resistance." At this point in time, resistance clashed with the need for a stable, strong government in a new republic. n13 Upon the founding of the United States of America as one nation, even the radical Bostonian, Samuel Adams, once the most vocal proponent of resistance and revolution, n14 revised his views about the right to revolt. n15 He now saw the inherent dangers of too much resistance leading to a breakdown of the rule of law in society. n16 James Madison, who did not renounce the right of revolution and originally included it as one of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights, actually feared revolution. n17 And George Washington, the father of the United States, prayed that God "would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government." n18

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003
“Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

In the eighteenth century, the French Revolution and its aftermath convinced Americans of the need to limit popular sovereignty in order to avoid the chaos and anarchy that consumed [*681] France after its Revolution. Everyone in the United States knew that after the French Revolution, France "groaned under the tyranny of the mob." n29 In France, government became anarchy, and violence replaced law and order. n30 The French drafted, ratified, and then abrogated constitutions with alarming frequency. n31 They formed illegal assemblies which usurped the powers of existing French legislatures. n32 The Americans looked at France and feared that popular sovereignty unbridled in the United States could lead to a similar state of chaos. The leaders in the United States sought to establish a balance between the right to dissent and the need to maintain a stable government. The right to revolution and rebellion became obsolete in this climate, and the right to resistance needed careful limitations.

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003
“Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

Professor Jacobs asserts that civil disobedience should not be judged according to the traditional free speech model summarized above. n173 Rather, Professor Jacobs argues in favor of the adoption of a different "free speech model that would include the public value of civil disobedience and the harms it necessarily causes." n174 Since civil disobedience is intentional lawbreaking done for the purpose of [*700] expression and under circumstances where it is likely to be understood, civil disobedience should be viewed as expressive conduct. However, since civil disobedience is different from the broad class of "lawbreaking" and also different from n175 the other broad class of "expressive conduct," Professor Jacobs believes that civil disobedience requires a free speech analysis all on its own. Nevertheless, Professor Jacobs realizes that lawbreaking as a protected form of expression could lead to anarchy, and, therefore, she reasons that civil disobedience cannot be protected under the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court decided in l993 that physical assault cannot be "expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment." n176 This decision brings to mind the example that one cannot conceive of political assassination as constitutionally protected expression. Although Professor Jacobs rightly concludes that civil disobedient should be subject to penalty, she argues persuasively that civil disobedient should not be subject to enhanced penalties. n177



Alternatives to Civil Disobedience

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003; “Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

Judge Robert H. Bork believes that civil disobedience is pure lawlessness, n140 political anarchy, and "there is no reason for courts to protect any advocacy of law violation since that is merely advocacy of a piecemeal overthrow of the democratic system. n141 Critics of civil disobedience as a means of legal reform remind us that under the U.S. [*696] "system a person is entitled to challenge the validity of a law being applied against that person by resisting its enforcement in court on a plea of invalidity, and that lawful resistance to law is a cornerstone of our liberties." n142 Civil disobedience should only be a last resort after negotiation, conciliation, the courts, and Congress have failed. n143

Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San Diego, California, 2003; “Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to dissent, to protest, to assemble peaceably, to criticize a law or government, and to oppose a law. n144 The more difficult question is how one may permissibly dissent if a person's first legal and moral imperative is to obey the law. Using means of opposition and dissent that are permissible under the U.S. system of law will not subject a dissenter to punishment by the state. The right to dissent may be exercised by the use of written and spoken words, by acts or conduct such as picketing, "peaceable" mass assembly, sit-ins n145 and demonstrations, which are referred to as "symbolic speech." The basic means of permis sible protest under the U.S. system is the right to vote, "the right to organize and to elect new officials to enact and administer the law." n146 Burning the American flag has been defended as a permissible form of protest and protected as symbolic speech. n147 Burning one's draft card was found not to be protected because it interfered with the record keeping function of the U.S. government. n148



1 Merriam Webster’s online dictionary

2


 Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence: A Distinction with a Difference Berel Lang Ethics, Vol. 80, No. 2. (Jan., 1970), pp. 156-159.Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0014-1704%28197001%2980%3A2%3C156%3ACDANAD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-X Ethics is currently published by The University of Chicago Press


3 Moral Decision Making -- An Analysis. MacDonald, Chris. St. Mary’s University, Department of Philosophy. http://www.ethicsweb.ca/guide/moral-decision.html

4 Susan Tiefenbrun, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San

Diego, California, 2003

“Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern University Law Review.

32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677




5 Civil Disobedience as Functional Opposition Paul F. Power The Journal of Politics, Vol. 34, No. 1. (Feb., 1972), pp. 37-55

6 Kayla Starr, Civil Disobedience Activist, Summer 1998 “The Role of Civil Disobedience in Democracy.” The Civil Liberties Monitoring Project. Online.

7 (Cohen, Carl, Civil Disobedience, Tactics and the Law.   1971, Columbia University Press: NY. Pgs: 5-6)

8 Leon Jaworski, “The United States Faces Today A Serious Threat to Her Continued Existence as a

Free People” in Morality and the Law, edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum (1988)

p. 87 (reprint originally published in the Baylor Line, January-February 1968: 14-18).

, Associate Professor Of Law At Thomas Jefferson School Of Law In San

Diego, California, 2003; “Article: Civil Disobedience And The U.S. Constitution.” Southwestern

University Law Review. 32 Sw. U. L. Rev. 677




9 “Civil Disobedience and the U.S. constitution”, 2003, found online.



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