Resolved: The United States ought to extend to non-citizens accused of terrorism the same constitutional due process protections it grants to citizens.

Resolved: The United States ought to extend to non-citizens accused of terrorism the same constitutional due process protections it grants to citizens.

Here we go! Another season, another round of topic analyses. If you are new to the blog, I recommend you take some time to look through prior topics so you gain an understandings of how I do things and what I am trying to accomplish. As always, comments and discussion are very welcome 🙂

Parts of Speech

Verbs – ought to extend, grants

Nouns – United States, non-citizens accused of terrorism, citizens, constitutional due process protections


Non-citizens accused of terrorism – This is a slightly tricky definition with potential for abuse. Technically, the resolution does not specify that these people have to be non-citizens of the United States. They could theoretically be non-citizens of any nation. DO NOT use this grammatical mistake to your advantage/disadvantage. It will pollute the debate with all sorts of nonsense. Accusations of terrorism in this context come from the state. It is possible to argue that certain people may be accused of terrorism by the international community (like Omar Al-Bashir). Do not debate the definition of accused, and do not debate the definition of terrorism. The point here is that the U.S. considers these people to be terrorists.

Citizens – We all know what a U.S. citizen is and how a person gets to be a U.S. citizen. Just find a good definition from a credible source, and stick it in your case.

Constitutional Due Process Protections – This is also fairly straightforward, though people will try to abuse this term by defining either too narrowly or too widely what due process protections entail. If you start debating distinctions between procedural and substantive due process and getting into specifics of the U.S. court system, you will stray away from the true clash/conflict of the resolution. Due process in the Constitution is in the 5th and 14th amendments. Read them, distill the protections from them, and stick them in your case.

Ought to Extend – This is the crux of this resolution, and it will be definition through your framework. Why ought the United States do anything? That is the first question you must answer, and that use what you come up with to analyze whether or not the U.S. ought to do what the resolution asks.

Potential Case Positions


1. Human Rights – Due process is a fundamental human right, and therefore, should not be taken away from anyone. If the United States were to rob anyone of these rights, citizen or not, it would be committing a moral crime.

2. Moral Precedent – The purpose of denying these rights would be to more effectively deter terrorism. However, terrorism is more effectively deterred if these rights are protected even for our enemies. The U.S. has the power to set a global moral precedent which has the power to propagate human rights across the globe. The U.S. should lead by example. After all, if we deny human rights, then we are no better than the enemies we so despise.

3. Human Dignity – Nothing of moral significance separates a citizen from a non-citizen. All humans are morally entitled, by default, to fundamental rights. In order to win, the negative would have to prove that something morally significant separates citizens from non-citizens, which is not possible.

4. Innocent Before Proven Guilty – Because these individuals have only been accused of terrorism, there is no ground to claim that their rights are forfeit. It has not been proven that they have committed any crime, let alone a moral one which warrants sacrifice of their rights.


1. Utilitarianism – Human rights are only valuable because of the ends they achieve. In this case, greater good is achieved if we deny suspected terrorists due process rights so that we can perform interrogations and more effectively combat and deter terrorism.

2. Moral Precedent – A “no mercy” policy is far more effective in deterring terrorism. Plato explains that the severity of punishment is what most effectively deters crime. If people become aware of the severity of the consequences, they will be less likely to engage in terrorist operations.

3. Governmental Legitimacy – A government’s legitimacy stems only from its accountability to its own people. The U.S. government’s legitimacy, therefore, stems from its citizens. As a result, the U.S. does not hold any moral obligations toward non-citizens.

That should help you get started. Good luck!


12 responses to “Resolved: The United States ought to extend to non-citizens accused of terrorism the same constitutional due process protections it grants to citizens.

  1. Wow, over the past week or so I’ve used this site to help me with a whole bunch of things, not just debate. I glad there’s sites like this that stupid people don’t post random crap.

  2. you need to include like limiting the qualified immunity would make police scared to do their job or something like that but otherwise this helped me a lot in my debate class thanks!

    • Yeah, that’s included in one of the points above where I mention that it makes it more difficult for people to do their jobs.

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