Critical Legal Studies Is A Sustained Attack On All Types Of Formalism

1562 Words Dec 4th, 2016 7 Pages
Mark Tushnet stated “critical legal studies is a sustained attack on all types of formalism.”1 In the late 1970s a group of like minded left wing scholars came together at a conference and created a movement known as Critical Legal Studies (CLS). Their anti-establishment polemic attack opposed the legal orthodoxy of formalist legal doctrine. This essay will critically evaluate how the CLS movement challenged formalism. Firstly exploring the CLS challenge to the scientific approach of formalism, then considering their view on indeterminacy and the methods they used to reveal this. The concept of contradictions will be analysed and discussed with some examples. Finally in considering the different aspects of the essay draw conclusions of their challenge to formalism. Veitch states “Formalism is a theory about how law does contain within its formal, systematic structure all answers to the questions that can be posed in law and legal argument.”2 The essence of formalism assumes that the answers to legal disputes can be deduced and determined from within a doctrine of autonomous posited law and that these answers are derived from a system that is neutral, objective and value free. This concept is against the thinking of CLS scholars as highlighted by Russell “CLS critique is its attack on formalism... [T]he CLS caricature the notion that law is a deductive and autonomous science that is self-contained.”3 Formalists accepted law as science, in 1895 it was stated “An ideal…

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