The Five Types of Legal Argument - University of Akron
The Five Types of Legal Argument Wilson Huhn Professor of Law, The University of Akron School of Law 2013 Powerpoint Design by Patrick Tabatcher Clip Art by Joshua Dean 1 Timeline Huhn started teaching law
___________________________________ 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 Ronald Reagan Bush I Bill Clinton 2000 2004 2008 2012 George W. Bush Barack Obama 2 Courses Taught
Health Law Evidence Administrative Law Secured Transactions Law and Genetics Commercial Paper Jurisprudence Constitutional Law I Constitutional Law II3 Scholarly Research
Freedom of Expression State Action Doctrine Gay Rights Eavesdropping Waterboarding Affordable Care Act Logic and Legal Reasoning The Stages of Legal Reasoning 4 Recent 5 to 4 Decisions in the Supreme Court
Citizens United (corporations have the right to run political advertisements) Van Orden v. Perry (10 Commandments obelisk constitutional) Bush v. Gore (recount halted in 2000 election) Grutter v. Bollinger (affirmative action upheld) 5 Supreme Court Justices
Felix Frankfurter Sandra Day OConnor Harry Blackmun Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. John Roberts Thurgood Marshall
6 7 Presentation One: Introduction and Textual Arguments Introduction to the Five Types of Legal Arguments Textual Arguments: Plain Meaning, Canons of Construction, and
Intratextual Arguments 8 Why Are There Hard Cases? Why do informed and reasonable people differ as to what the law is? 9 The Five Types of Legal Arguments
Text Intent Precedent Tradition Policy 10 Proof of What the Law Is To prove a question of fact, lawyers call witnesses and introduce exhibits.
To prove a question of law, lawyers create legal arguments, drawing on legal text, intent, precedent, traditions, and policy. The different types of legal argument are the data that lawyers use to prove what the law is. 11 Text Intent
Precedent Tradition Policy Rules of Recognition The legal philosopher H.L.A. Hart said that underlying the law are rules of recognition rules that govern what
counts as law. The five types of legal arguments operate as rules of recognition. Judges and lawyers recognize arguments based upon text, intent, precedent, tradition, and policy as being legitimate forms of argument. 12 Source and Structure Each different type of argument draws on
different sources of information and has a different structure. 13 Strengths and Weaknesses Each type of argument has characteristic strengths and weaknesses, and may be attacked or evaluated in different ways.
14 Why Identify the Different Types of Legal Arguments? It is important for legal professionals to understand the different types of legal arguments As students As lawyers As judges 15
As Students As students of the law, understanding the different types of arguments helps us to analyze difficult questions of law. 16 As Lawyers As lawyers representing clients, understanding the different types of
arguments helps us to choose the best arguments on our clients behalf. 17 As Judges As judges deciding cases, understanding the different types of arguments helps to decide which arguments are most persuasive.
18 Secondary Sources of Law The five types of legal arguments are primary sources of evidence of what the law is. All other materials are secondary sources of law. Secondary sources about the law include legal treatises, textbooks, monographs, articles, essays, and study aids. Some legal treatises are very influential but they are not law by themselves. Instead they cite
the law. 19 The Five Presentations In This Series 1 Introduction; Textual Arguments Plain Meaning, Canons of Construction, and Intratextual Arguments 2 Historical Arguments Intent, Precedent, and Tradition 3 Policy Arguments
4 Identifying and Attacking the Different Types of Arguments 5 The Stages of Legal Reasoning Logic, 20 Analogy, and Policy 1. Legal Text Textual arguments look to the text of the law itself to determine what the law is.
21 Examples of Legal Text Legal Text Includes: Constitutions Statutes Ordinances Regulations Contracts Deeds Wills
22 There Are Three Sub-Types of Textual Arguments A. Plain Meaning B. Canons of Construction C. Intratextual Arguments 23
Plain Meaning The most basic type of legal argument is one that is based upon the plain meaning of legal text. The law is simply what the words of the constitution, statute, regulation, or ordinance mean. 24 There Are Several Three
Sources of Plain Meaning Lay usage Dictionary definitions Terms of Art words that have a specialized meaning in the law Definitional sections in statutes 25 Some Laws Are Clear
26 The Law of Murder (State Law) No person shall intentionally cause the death of another human being. 27 Law Against Use of a Weapon of
Mass Destruction (federal law) 18 U.S.C. 2332a(a) - Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction: A person who, without lawful authority, uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use, a weapon of mass destruction shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, and if death results, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life. 28
Weapon of Mass Destruction Defined 18 U.S.C. 2332a(c) - Definitions: For purposes of this section the term weapon of mass destruction means any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title. 29 Destructive Device Defined
18 U.S.C. 921(a)(4)(A)(i): As used in this chapter the term destructive device means any explosive bomb. 30 Plain Meaning Arguments Are Determinative Unless You might think that the law ALWAYS consists of plain meaning arguments but that is not the
cases. With almost every law there are situations where the meaning of the law is unclear in certain situations. In addition, the courts will not apply the plain meaning of legal text if it would lead to an absurd result. 31 Many Laws Are Not Clear: No Vehicles in the Park
32 Rules and Standards Some laws are very clear and specific these are rules. Other laws are vague and general these are standards. 33
Example of a Rule Stop at red light. Rules are clear, but may be unfair. Rules are efficient in situations where facts of different cases are basically similar. Rules are difficult to create but easy to apply. Example: specific emissions limits for industries Rules are applied formalistically Do the facts of the case match the fact portion of the
rule? 34 Example of a Standard Proceed cautiously on yellow light Standards are fair, but may be ambiguous Standards are efficient where it is necessary to cover many different fact situations Standards are easy to create but difficult to apply Example reasonable person standard in tort law
Standards are applied realistically What are the facts, what are the underlying values and interests to be considered, and how are those values and interests involved in the case to be decided? 35 More Examples of Standards Due Process: Judicial and administrative procedures must be fundamentally fair. Equal Protection: Persons who are similarly
situated must be treated alike. The Law of Tort: Persons must act according to what the reasonable person would do under the circumstances. 36 If the Law Is Not Absolutely Clear If the text of the law is not determinative, then it opens the door to every other form of
legal argument including other types of textual arguments as well as arguments based on intent, precedent, tradition, and policy. 37 B. The Canons of Construction The canons of construction are not rules of law. They are instead general presumptions about how legal text should be interpreted. The canons of construction are
analogous to rules of syntax, like the rules governing word order in English: Only I love you or I love only you. 38 There Are Dozens of Canons of Construction 39
Some Canons of Construction Are Similar to Each Other The Rule of Lenity: Criminal statutes are to be narrowly construed against the state and in favor of the defendant. Ambiguous words in a contract that is drafted by only one of the parties such as an insurance policy should be construed against the party who drafted it and in favor of the other party. 40
Some Canons of Construction Are in Contradiction to Each Other Statutes in derogation of common law are to be narrowly construed. Remedial statutes must be broadly construed. 41
Example: Dogs Allowed How About Cats? Suppose you are travelling with your cat and see this sign outside a restaurant Is your cat welcome? 42 Canon Number 1 Expressio Unius Canon Number 1: Expressio unius est
exclusio alterius - meaning, to say the one is to exclude the other So Dogs Allowed means Cats Not Allowed 43 Canon Number 2: Ejusdem Generis Canon Number 2: Ejusdem Generis meaning, of the same kind So Dogs Allowed means
Cats Also Allowed 44 For Every Canon There Is an Equal and Opposite Canon Llewellyn studied the canons of construction and discovered that for every canon of construction there is an
opposite canon. Karl Llewellyn 45 Llewellyns List of Canons (first six) Karl Llewellyn, Remarks on the Theory of Appellate Decision and the Rules or Canons About How Statutes Are to Be Construed, 3 Vanderbilt Law Review 395 (1950)
46 C. Intratextual Arguments Look to one portion of legal text to interpret another portion of same text Same word used more than once Different words used in different places Organization or structure of the document 47
The Necessary and Proper Clause One of the most important passages in the Constitution is the Necessary and Proper Clause, Article I, Section 8, Clause 18. It is understood to mean that Congress not only has express powers, but also has implied powers to act. 48
Necessary and Proper Clause Article I, Section 8, Clause 18: Congress shall have power to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof. 49
McColloch v. Maryland (1819) When the United States was formed one of the principal issues was whether the country should have a central bank a government-owned bank that could be used to hold and transfer government funds. Congress created the Bank of the United States. In this case the State of Maryland argued that Congress did not have the power to create a bank, because that power was not expressly listed in the Constitution.
50 The Arguments The United States contended that the Bank of the United States was created to facilitate both taxation and spending, and could be used to purchase materials and support the army, navy, and movement of the armed forces. The State of Maryland argued that the bank wasnt necessary for any of these
purposes. 51 Chief Justice Marshalls Two Intratextual Arguments Contrast between necessary and proper and absolutely necessary Placement of the
Necessary and Proper Clause among the powers of Congress 52 Necessary and Proper versus Absolutely Necessary Article I, Section 8, Clause 18: Congress shall have power to make all Laws
which shall be necessary and proper Article I, Section 10, Clause 2: No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws 53 Placed Among the Powers of Congress, Not the Limits
The Necessary and Proper Clause is in Article I, Section 8 (the powers of Congress) not Article I, Section 9 (the limits on the powers of Congress) 54 Expanding the Evidence of What the Law Is
Plain meaning arguments look only to the particular words in question in determining the meaning of the law. The canons of construction require us to take into consideration not only the particular words under consideration but also the traditional presumptions and inferences about the meaning of legal text. Intratextual arguments look not only to the particular words under consideration but to the 55
document as a whole. Intent, Precedent, Tradition, and Policy The next two presentations will further expand the universe of information we will consider in determining what the law is. In Presentation Two we shall look at the historical arguments: Intent, Precedent, and Tradition. 56
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