Buckner Inniss on Reparations Rhetoric

If you’ve been following the reparations movement of late, you’ve likely seen talk of the lawsuits filed back in 2002 in federal courts around the country.  They were consolidated in the Northern District of Illinois in front of Judge Norgle.  The name of the case was In re African American Slave Descendants Litigation.  Whew, that’s a mouthful.

Lolita Buckner Inniss of Cleveland State University’s Law School has recently posted a paper analyzing Judge Norgle’s 2006 opinion dismissing the case.  (So maybe I should have titled this post, Buckner Inniss on anti-reparations rhetoric.)  Her abstract is as follows:

In this paper I apply critical legal rhetoric to the judicial opinion rendered in response to the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Second Amended and Consolidated Complaint in ‘In Re African American Slave Descendants’, a case concerning the efforts of a group of modern-day descendants of enslaved African-Americans to obtain redress for the harms of slavery. 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. After introducing this case, I briefly tracing the evolution and meaning of the term rhetoric and examine the relationship between rhetoric and law. I next explore the connection between rhetoric and ideology, which is crystallized in the form of the ideograph and its use as a tool of what is known as critical rhetoric.  Finally, I show how critical legal rhetoric is achieved by bringing critical rhetoric to law, and thereafter apply critical legal rhetoric to the case of ‘In Re African American Slave Descendants’.

You can download the paper here for free.

Alfred Brophy

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