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Student Congress (also known as Congressional Debate, Legislative Debate) is a form of high school debate in the United States. The National Forensic League (NFL) and National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) offer Student Congress as an event, as do many national debate tournaments, State Forensic Associations.

In Student Congress, high school students emulate United States Congresspeople by debating bills and resolutions. Before the event, each school submits 'legislation' to each tournament. After the legislation has been compiled, it is given to each participating team, which then attempts to research as much of the material as possible, with the goal of being able to speak on both sides of every bill. Before tournaments, many Congressional Debate teams practice speaking on the bills together.

At the beginning of the event, groups of students play the roles of Congressional committees, deciding which legislation is to be debated and in what order. Bills are debated through a series of mostly three-minute speeches, alternating between proponency of, and opposition to, a given bill. The speeches are designed to capture the attention of the audience and convince them to vote a certain way on each bill. Judges rank speakers on their logic, organization, and eloquence, usually on a scale from 1 to 6. After the chamber feels that debate on a particular bill has been exhausted or the time on the bill has elapsed, participants vote on the bill.

A Sample Congressional Debate Round

Video Tutorial


Dockets