Quick Link — Probable Cause Intro Essay
NSDA member schools will have the chance to vote for one of these two resolutions for the September-October PF topic —
OPTION 1 – Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.
OPTION 2 – Resolved: United States public K-12 schools should be allowed to regulate students’ off-campus electronic speech.
Both topics are reasonably well worded (wording is a difficult job), quite interesting, involve important questions of students’ constitutional rights, and will foster good debates in the fall.
Which one should you use at your camp this summer to prepare?
I think it’s a close call, both topics are good and I think either one could win.
A couple quick notes —
(a) Both topics involve intricate questions of Constitutional law and how such law has and should be interpreted by the courts, including the Supreme Court. The first one sounds a bit more “legalistic,” but the literature on both is heavily-steeped in reading and understanding American constitutional law and how it applies to public schools.
(b) Based on my initial reading andnderstanding of the issue, #1 is a bit more controversial, at least as worded, than #2. The courts have generally answered the question in #2 in the Affirmative, with the debate being more about what particular instances they can or can’t regulate it. There are very few (if any) advocates claiming that K-12 schools shouldn’t be able to regulate off-campus speech at all. I think “not at all” will be difficult to defend, and that seems to be what the resolution will require.
I think that Resolution #1 has two more equally debatable sides. While it has been established law since 1983 that probable cause is not required for searches of students in public K-12 schools, there are advocates who push for the adoption of a probable cause standard for these searches. I quote one in this brief essay.
(c) The word “regulate” in the second resolution mas that resolution bidirectional, as Pro teams can argue for regulations that are weaker than status quo regulations. This is what made the “regulate immigration” policy debate topic bidirectional, with most teams arguing for a softer stance on immigration restrictions.
This “conclusion” is tentative since I’m more familiar with the literature related to #1 and I’ll certainly let you know if it changes.
Until then, I’ve produced a number of resources that will help get you started –
1 – School probable cause bibliography
2 – Off campus speech bibliography
3 – Quick essay — The Special Needs exception and school searches
4 – Quick essay — Probable cause and Fourth Amendment law
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