Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heated Debates

Vacationing in the middle of the week does not help one’s sleeping schedule. So once again I awoke a little later than I wanted- around 8:20 AM- to pick up on my morning routine. After a shower and change of clothes, I headed down to a breakfast filled with eggs, hash browns, and debate preparations. Today was the day for our Supreme Court debates to take place.  

Once breakfast ended, I went into full out debate mode. I pulled my laptop out and booted it up to start my note taking. During the debate, one could probably hear my fingers and my furious typing, trying to get every detail inscribed. My case involved who had the authority to dictate whether a person is from ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ or simply ‘Israel.’ I argued for the presidential side, stating that the president had the power to make the choice of a U.S. citizen’s birthplace on his/her passport when born in Jerusalem. The three main points against my case were that a.) presidential power when recognizing countries is only ceremonial and not substantive, b.) the act is unconstitutional, and c.) the Supreme Court does not have the authority to review this case because it is of political questioning, not legal questioning. The debate went along fairly well; my side argued the point of staying as neutral as possible between the Israelis and Palestinians. To refute each point, we went defined ‘recognize’ as ‘admitting as particular importance’ and ‘substantive’ as ‘particular importance,’ therefore by definition presidential power is substantive when recognizing foreign sovereigns. We also stated allowing the president power to dictate this issue is constitutional because it’s within the Constitution in Article 3 Section 2. And finally, we argued that the Supreme Court does have the authority to review the case because a constitutional duty- that of the president- clashes with a legal law passed by Congress known as the Foreign Relations Act.

Unfortunately for my group, we were defeated by a ruling of six to two. Then the next group began their debate over the constitutionality of searching students for weapons with/without probably cause. Once side continuously brought up the violation of the fourth amendment right, which is the right to not be searched without probably cause or a warrant. The debate was very interesting; the two sides mainly argued security over rights which applies to many aspects in our daily lives, whether it be big or small.

After our intense rounds of debating, we all were given reviews and such as well as advice from our guest judge. Apparently a debater will always show their true colors at one point; one class ended, I was asked multiple times if I debated at school and I responded with an affirmative. Evidently I spoke very fast at one point- but not the speed of spreading- and I used a great deal of hand gestures.

When I had my fill of lunch, I decided to take a nap. Sadly my always active brain would not permit my rest and I chose to work-out for a while in the basement of the Carman building. As time passed by after my work-out, I finally made my way to Butler Library for my second class. I resolved to sit in a somewhat secluded area to get more of my paper done. But alas, I still have so much work to get done.

Second class ended, and I rushed to my dorm to lay my materials down before meeting up with Ms. L in front of Lewisohn Hall for our meeting with the director of the high school program, Darlene Giraitis. It seemed the Constitutional Law class as packed with heated debates as well because class for the four cohorts ended later than usual. Nevertheless we all arrived and made our way to the director. Ms. Giraitis has been part of the program for twenty-four years- a lot of time to devote oneself for a summer program. Sadly, this will be her last summer until her retirement but it was such a pleasure to meet the woman who made our acceptance into the program run smoothly. After a few words and pictures, the Columbia cohort and chaperon made our way to Low Memorial Library to check out brochures on Columbia University. We grabbed fact sheets on the Core Curriculum, statistics, and events. Then we parted ways to our respective temporary homes to get some work done. Only three thousand eight hundred words to go…

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