LD Wording Committee Releases Rough List of Topics Under Consideration for 2016-2017


Salt Lake City, UT — The NSDA LD wording committee has released a working list of topics for 2016-2017. The committee is seeking input from the topic on these topics/areas. NOTE: These are rough wordings and many are clearly works in progress. Comments should be focused on the topic areas and constructive suggestions for wordings, not criticism of the rough wordings listed below.

UPDATE: Changes resulting from the afternoon meeting are listed below. The committee was only able to get though the first 11 topics, the rest will be revisited tomorrow morning.

1. In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory

2.  The United States has a moral obligation to adopt a single payer health care system.

3. The United States government ought to significantly curtail the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President.
The Government of the United States ought to significantly curtail the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President.

4. Capital punishment is immoral

5. The United States ought to expand free trade with foreign nations

6. A government’s sponsorship of gambling to raise revenue is unjust.

7. Civil rights ought to be prioritized over national security.

8. In the United States, public colleges and universities ought not prohibit speech protected by the Constitution.

Public colleges and universities ought not have speech codes.

9. In the United States, local law enforcement ought to be subject to independent civilian review boards with the power to punish misconduct.

The United States ought to restrict/ limit/ qualified immunity for police officers in cases involving the use of lethal force.

10. The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.
National governments ought to guarantee the right to housing.

11. Employees ought to have a civil right to unionize.


The last eight topic areas will be revised tomorrow. Initial wordings can be found on the spreadsheet below.


  • Tom Geairn

    1. I would like to see something like “In the United States, national service ought to be a condition of enfranchisement” This narrows the topic somewhat and is a little more palatable for the Aff.
    3. This is begging for a plan. Stop making LD 1 person policy.
    4. I absolutely love this topic as written. It forces the debate into the realm of moral philosophy and away from implementation. It also enables a high level discussion of justice vs morality and the relevant differences.
    5. Stop making this policy. Maybe, “Expanding free trade agreements serves the U.S. national interest”
    10. Eliminate the phrase “the right to”. The question is whether on not the government should provide housing, not the right to housing. The right either exists or it doesn’t, that’s at the heart of the argument.
    12. How about setting up a comparison such as “In the U.S., rulings of the criminal court ought to supersede rulings by the Supreme Court”
    15. I LOVE the topic area but we need some direction here again to not make it a policy debate. How about “International Colonization of other planets is a higher priority than the domestic goals of individual nations” Or something similar but less sloppy. It would be nice to talk specifically about colonization.
    18. Ew.

  • Mathew Pregasen

    damn good list.

  • Josh You

    14: The second wording is too strong, I don’t think removing all patents for “life-saving” drugs is really defensible. Maybe change it to “significantly curtail”. The third version is great.

    19 (4) seems impossible to debate without more context.

    The word “foreign” should probably be avoided, if only because everyone will read Ks/word PICs which will get old pretty quickly.

  • Kieran Cavanagh

    4: “Capital punishment ought to be abolished” seems better, since simply saying it is immoral seems fairly vague and doesn’t inspire action

    8: “On balance, colleges and universities ought to prioritize providing safe spaces over ensuring freedom of expression when the two are in conflict” seems better. It could be argued that ensuring freedom of expression entails providing a safe space or vice versa.

    16: Saying “public colleges and public universities” instead of “public colleges and universities” could avoid affs saying that universities in general (including private universities) should be included under the scope of the plan, since I’m guessing that the res is supposed to refer to public universities and public colleges.

    • Tom Geairn

      I actually love “is immoral” because it doesn’t require action. It relegates the debate to the realm of moral philosophy which has a few effects.
      A. No more “ought” = “moral” nonsense. We actually are told morality is the question.
      B. The only implementation arguments which are relevant must prove why such implementation is inherent in the death penalty itself.
      C. Arguments about retributive justice can be called untopical because they speak to the justice of the policy not its morality.
      D. Let’s face it, the death penalty is just a fun topic but do we really want to keep rehashing the same arguments every 5 years? why not spice it up this way.

  • Salim Damerdji

    rad topic list