How to Judge A Policy Debate Round?

For the most part, Policy debate does not pull judges from events other than Policy. If you’re judging, you already will likely have some experience with Policy debate. However, there are some guidelines to follow, even for those with experience.

First, try your best to bracket your own ideological predispositions. Biases can creep in in a variety of ways: biases about current events, biases about what debate should look like, etc. However, debate is about the debaters, so these biases should be bracketed.

Second, keep a close flow, and don’t rely too heavily on speech documents. Many debaters will send their cases and blocks to the judge/opponent as a speech document, but you should not flow from the speech document directly. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing extemporaneous arguments.

Third, think actively about the debate as it is progressing. Given the complexity of Policy debates, it’s challenging to judge it passively and only consider who won once the 2AR has ended. Have a sense after each speech about what the successful speech would have needed to do and, subsequently, who is ahead in the debate.