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Extemporaneous Speaking
Welcome to Finalist Files

NFL Nationals Issue Released

05/26/11 05:18:39 pm

PF Releases

Resolved: That the United States should intervene in another nation's struggle for democracy.

Foreword: Democracy promotion is currently an important goal of U.S. foreign policy. For example, one of President Bush’s major goals in Iraq was to democratize the state (although the primary stated goal was to disarm Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction). However, Bush’s predecessors in office have subscribed to a similar conception of democracy promotion as a crucial foreign policy tool for several decades. For example, the U.S. supported the democratization of Germany, Japan, and Italy post-WWII, and the U.S. aggressively encouraged states to adopt democratic forms of government to counter communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The question is whether democracy promotion remains a legitimate foreign policy goal in the current international environment.

Congratulations on qualifying for nationals! Enjoy the experience, and remember the way to win is to be more informed than the other team. Good Luck!

Michelle Schmit

April 2011 Issue Released

03/20/11 08:53:25 pm

PF Releases

Resolved: The United States federal government should permit the use of financial incentives to encourage organ donation.

Foreword: This topic is challenging, because it attempts to balance the important interests of desperate patients, grieving families, and needy donors. The current system is undeniably broken; thousands of patients are dying each year from organ failure, while at the same time, life-saving organs are being burned and buried. There is no question that a policy change must be instituted, but this particular policy may cause more problems than it solves. The purpose of this topic is awareness, and in addition to participating in the debate, you can take the small step of registering yourself as a donor, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

If you are interested in a position as a researcher at Finalist Files, please contact me at Thank you to those of you who have responded already, I’ll be in touch. Good Luck with your last month of debating before Nationals!

Michelle Schmit

March 2011 Issue Released

02/15/11 07:20:43 am

PF Releases

Resolved: North Korea poses a more serious threat to United States national security than Iran.

Foreword: This topic is a disappointing selection on the part of the Forum community. North Korea and Iran both pose a threat to U.S. security; to say that the threat posed by North Korea outweighs that of Iran has no impact, because the U.S. will continue to counter both threats simultaneously. Further, the research burden presented by this topic is enormous. To engage in a comparative analysis of North Korea and Iran within the time constraints of a Forum round will result in a gross oversimplification of the issues on both sides. Lastly, this topic (like so many other Forum topics) does not give students an opportunity to discuss potential solutions to looming nuclear proliferation. To invest so much time learning the details of the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs, without evaluating solutions, so that you can make a meaningless determination as to which threat is greater, is an unjustifiable expenditure of energy.

On a different note, I would like to make a dent in our 9.8 percent unemployment rate, so if you are interested in conducting preliminary research for Finalist Files, please send me an e-mail at I am looking for undergraduate students, but if you are a senior and would like to remain involved in the debate community post-graduation, you may still contact me and we will discuss the 2011-12 academic year.

Michelle Schmit

February 2011 Issue Released

01/16/11 03:22:22 pm

PF Releases

Resolved: Wikileaks is a threat to United States national security.

Foreword: Throughout 2010, WikiLeaks has disclosed classified U.S. documents to the world. In April, the site released a video showing members of the U.S. military in a helicopter shooting and killing individuals on the ground, two of whom were journalists with Reuters (the inference was that the shooters mistook the targets’ camera equipment for weapons). In July, WikiLeaks provided the media with 90,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan. In October, it leaked 400,000 documents on the war in Iraq. And then, at the end of November, WikiLeaks began a gradual leak of its 250,000 diplomatic cables or communications between U.S. diplomats and the State Department. This topic is timely; so much so, that many of the effects of the leaks have not yet been discerned. However the wording of the topic strikes me as somewhat ridiculous because it excessively limits the Con’s grounds. Of course WikiLeaks is a threat to national security; the real question is, is the threat so substantial as to outweigh the protection of free speech, or the transparency of government? It’s impossible to take the topic seriously, and thus, the debate is not really about whether WikiLeaks is a threat, but rather, how grave the threat really is.

Michelle Schmit

January Issue Released

12/28/10 06:24:37 am

PF Releases

Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.

Foreword: I apologize for the delay in this release; unfortunately because of final exams, the January topic is often released much later than I would like. When there is a trade-off between the quality of the file and the timeliness of the release, I’ll choose the former, but I know it puts most of you in a time crunch so for that I’m very sorry! I hope you will find this file particularly useful because the evidence is unique, and so is the perspective. I had the privilege of studying criminal law this semester with the leading critic of plea bargaining, Professor Alschuler. I’ve used the strategy guide to make his arguments, as well as the arguments of other legal commentators, more accessible to you.

95 percent of defendants choose to forfeit their substantive rights and plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a lesser sentence. As a result, the protections afforded to criminal defendants in court are often irrelevant in practice. Prosecutors and defendants alike have determined that plea agreements serve their interests, and the plea bargaining process is efficient, but is plea bargaining consistent with the principles of the criminal justice system? Given the prominence of plea bargaining in the system, this question is one of great importance.

Michelle Schmit