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Should State Governments Enlist Citizens to Enforce Laws?

22.4% yes
77.6% no

Texas recently passed a new law named SB 8, or the Texas Heartbeat Act. This law is rather unique in its format in that it allows private citizens to file civil lawsuits against anyone who aids and abets an abortion procedure on a fetus with cardiac activity other than the patient. The wording of this law and its encouragement of citizens directly becoming involved in enforcement has sparked debates.

Those who argue that state governments should enlist citizens to enforce laws argue that all people have a compelling interest in ensuring that the laws of society are upheld. Therefore, they argue, it is reasonable for the government to give citizens the power to enforce said laws. Additionally, they may argue that just because the government does not have the resources or will to enforce a certain law doesn’t mean the perpetrator should go unpunished—instead citizens should have the ability to intervene. 

Those who argue that state governments should not enlist citizens to enforce laws argue that doing so will lead to fractures in society. They contend that granting citizens law enforcement authority will incentivize vigilante actions and break down healthy bonds that are needed for communities to flourish. Additionally, they may argue that while citizens can play a small role in enforcing laws when the police are not immediately there through “citizen arrests,” the government must be the primary entity that executes the law. 

So, what do you think? Should State Governments Enlist Citizens to Enforce Laws? Students can answer Yes, it should; No, it should not; or a nuanced answer in between!

 Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following: 

  • Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner 
  • Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers 
  • Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors 
  • They address counter-arguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner 
  • They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly


For this question, BRI will be giving away two $25 gift cards, one to each person providing the best defense of each side of the debate. Both students will also win BRI swag. Each student winner will also be entered for a chance to win a grand prize of a $1,000 cash scholarship. Additionally, the referring teachers for both students will each win a $25 gift card and BRI swag.

This question will run from 9/13/21 to 9/20/21, so be sure to submit your answers in time to be considered for our prizes!

(For rules/regulations click HERE)

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