Critical Legal Studies Essay

3437 Words May 16th, 2012 14 Pages
CRITICAL LEGAL STUDIES
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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However CLS did not begin as a negative movement. CLS was and continues to be committed to shaping a society based on some substantive vision of the human personality, absent the hidden interests and class domination of legal institutions.
It is precisely the CLS commitment to a new vision of law that drew the indignation of traditionalists who saw law as a primarily a process of resolving disputes rather than as a system for achieving “abstract generalizations.” CLS scholars, like Unger, urged that legal doctrine be understood as an expression, though imperfect, of “an imaginative scheme of human coexistence rather than just as provisional truce lines in a brutal and amoral conflict.”
Unger in particular sought to unravel our legal institutions, but only in order to build again with a full understanding of the political nature of law and the experimental nature of human beings. CLS’ broad attack on legal discourse as “itself a form of political domination and a barrier to progressive change” inspired a deluge of radical criticism of the traditional role of law in society. Abandoning a preference in law for scientific over philosophical argument, this criticism takes generously from a number of “non-legal” disciplines, particularly from the Frankfurt School of German social philosophy and from structuralist and post-structuralist French philosophy. The result has been a remarkably creative and multidisciplinary attack on legal norms and

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