Critical legal studies2.pdf - Critical legal studies(CLS...

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Critical legal studies (CLS) Introduction The Critical Legal Studies movement started in the United States of America in response to the political disruptions of the 1960s and 1970s. It is based on the belief that law is neither neutral nor free from value; that law cannot be divorced from politics. Some critical legal studies theorists even see law as an instrument by those in power to ‘maintain domination over an unequal status quo. WHAT IS THE CLS MOVEMENT? The CLS movement is an intellectual movement whose members hold the belief that law cannot be spoken of as neutral or as value-free. They contend that in actuality, law cannot be divorced from politics. This movement aims to question and rescind accepted norms and standards both in practice and in legal theory.
It is set out to fundamentally change jurisprudence by exposing it as an ideology supporting a political system that is unjust. Its theorists endeavour to expose the law’s affectation to objectivity, neutrality and determinacy. As a movement of the Leftists, CLS is set out to destabilize the philosophical and political authority of what it regards as an unjust social system. WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF CLS? American Realism and Marxism as the two jurisprudential traditions which have had a strong impact on the CLS movement. It drew from the American realist in the way it is sceptical about formalistic approaches to law. Its conviction that the real danger in the legal system is to be detected in both personal and political factors which are not expressed in the black letter of the law is another characteristic of the American realists. How is CLS distinguished from American realism?
It is agreed that both the American realists and CLS theorists are sceptical and anti-formalist and both seek to debunk the law in order to reveal law in action. But is there a difference between these two? Johnson et al asserts that there is in fact a distinction between CLS and American realists in that: .1. The American realists held the belief that the legal system can be improved if lawyers and students are made to understand the reality of how law operates in practice. .2. On the other hand, CLS theorists see society as marked by oppression and inequality, and that law is involved in preserving this by retaining and promoting the status quo. .3. The principal aim of CLS is to disclose the role played by law in supporting both injustice and exploitation. .4. For CLS adherents, social science is utilised to create ‘a true scienc e of law as a social phenomenon’ . In addition to the above distinction, Wacks adds the following four distinctions between CLS and American realism:
.5. CLS is also not interested in what lawyers, judges or legislators actually do, like the realists were.

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