Distinguishing between the Law and the Legal : a rhetorical analysis of judicial argument and media coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court's deliberations in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases
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This dissertation provides a theoretically grounded framework for investigating "legal rhetoric." By making a distinction between the discursive elements of a Legal system and the broader rhetorical notion of Law, rhetorical critics can better understand the interdependent relationship between citizens, their legal structures, and their cultures. The Legal system represents the forum in which legal disputes are addressed. In contrast, the Law signifies the principles of justice and fairness that give rise to legal disputes addressed by the Legal system. This dissertation emphasizes the important role that media play in disseminating information about specific legal disputes and providing citizens an opportunity to reflect on which principles of justice and fairness are to be valued. This study specifically examines the text, reasoning, and media coverage of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, two U.S. Supreme Court cases related to the University of Michigan's use of racial classifications in its admissions process. By comparing which arguments and rhetorical elements from the Supreme Court's 2003 decisions were reported in the press, this dissertation both demonstrates the rhetorical concepts of the "Law" and the "Legal System" and suggests how citizens and rhetorical scholars can more fully critique legal texts.