In the quarterfinals of this past weekend’s New Trier Season Opener, a negative team extended two counterplans with contradictory net-benefits in the 2NR and justified doing so because the affirmative “conceded the thesis of conditionality.” Having already discussed this hypothetical with several debaters and judges, it is clear that it is both interesting and confounding. Read the blow-by-blow below the fold and chime in with your thoughts.
The affirmative case argued that the Supreme Court should strike down marriage promotion policies in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program on the grounds that they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They argued that this was necessary to solve Patriarchy/Domestic Violence, Racism, and Commodification.
The 1NC included (among many other things) two counterplans: the first had Congress remove marriage promotion from TANF and had the Supreme Court rule on class-based affirmative action on Equal Protection grounds—the net-benefit was the Hollow Hope DA; the second had the Supreme Court strike down marriage promotion restrictions based on substantive due process—the net-benefit was an equal protection bad DA.
Both counterplans were conditional. The affirmative initiated a “conditionality bad” argument in the 2AC but did not extend it in the 1AR.
The 2NR extended both counterplans and both net-benefits.
Several questions to consider:
1. Is it theoretically legitimate to extend both counterplans in the 2NR?
2. How should the judge evaluate the debate? Should s/he compare each counterplan and net-benefit to the case while pretending that the other counterplan and net-benefit do not exist?
3. Does the status quo remain a logical option? Can the judge kick one counterplan or both counterplans and independently weigh one or both of the net-benefits against the case?
4. What does the 2AR need to say in order to win?