Resource: A Critical Legal Rhetoric Approach to In Re African-American Slave Descendants Litigation

By: Lolita Buckner Inniss

June 1, 2010

Critical legal rhetoric is a means of explicating the way in which rhetoric and ideology relate to law. It names the rhetorical practices and clarifies the ideologies that go into making up the law's articulations. Critical legal rhetoric is, in other words, a way of understanding not only why law performs its work, but how. Critical legal rhetoric is an analytical approach that concerns itself with both the structural and material aspects of a text in order to trace the recurring forms that inhabit both the legal and the public sphere.' The chief methodological framework for performing critical legal rhetorical analysis comes from the work of Marouf Hasian, Jr., particularly his schema for analysis, which he calls "substantive units" in critical legal rhetoric. Critical legal rhetoric is a potent tool for exposing the way in which the public ideologies of society and the private ideologies of jurists, legislators and other legal actors are manifested in legal and law-like pronouncements.