The concepts "public law" and "private law," as well the notions of "canon," "field" and "foundational curriculum," all rest on a set of unstated premises for their integrity. Certain legal concepts, forms of reasoning, and values are privileged, while others are marginalized and devalued, if not ignored. Critical Legal Thought will introduce second-semester, first-year law students to a range of critical approaches to law with the goal of giving them tools for testing legal arguments, assertions of legal pedigree, and the underlying normative premises that often make certain legal outcomes seem just, if not inevitable. Further, the constitutive courses of the first-year curriculum will be critically examined.
The first weeks of the semester will examine the underlying structure of "regular law," including the work done by legal positivists, and formalists. From there we will cover critical approaches to the assertion of law's objectivity and rationality. Beginning with Legal Realism and it's progeny Critical Legal Studies, readings will cover Feminist and Critical Race critiques of law's aspiration to objectivity and neutrality. We will then move to examine the foundational curriculum - Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Civil Procedure.