Critical Legal Studies Essay

3423 Words May 7th, 2012 14 Pages
Critical legal study (CLS) is a theory that challenges and overturns accepted norms and standards in legal theory and practice. Supporters of this theory believe that logic and structure attributed to the law grow out of the power relationships of the society. The law exists to support the interests of the party or class that forms it and is merely a collection of beliefs and prejudices that legitimize the injustices of society.
The wealthy and the powerful use the law as an instrument for oppression in order to maintain their place in hierarchy. For the critical feminists, the law is “patriarchal” and for the critical race, the domination is race. The basic idea of CLS is that the law is politics and it is not
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CLS has borrowed heavily from Legal Realism, the school of legal thought that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. Like CLS scholars, legal realists rebelled against accepted legal theories of the day and urged more attention to the social context of the law.
Rejecting formalism the Realists argued that a set of precepts applied ‘objectively’ to a given set of facts could result in a variety of equally plausible outcomes…and that precedent could be manipulated to justify any decision at all.” Realists attempted to fix this problem by attempting to make law more scientific; advocating a shift towards experts and away from biased judges.
CLS rejects formalism, the belief that society can resolve disputes according to a value-neutral system of rules and doctrine. The suggestion that the law can be neutral and apolitical as only slightly less absurd than the suggestion that a judge can transcend his own social and political context. Legal autonomy according to the critics, “is a lie” since ‘there can be no plausible legal theory without a social theory.”

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