Writing and Critical Reasoning: Thematic Approaches Writing Project #3

What went wrong?


Our textual analysis skills to work, look at the ways to cultivate a healthy respect for allies and skeptics’ opinions, and use research to further our claims in response to those reasonable opinions.     


As we know, the name of our WRT150 course theme is Law & Social Justice. In Paper #1, you worked through various understandings of what law or social justice might mean to you.  In Paper #2 you were invited to examine how we respond to perceived social injustices.  Behind these assignments is indeed a notion that social justice could be a useful, even if imperfect, tool for balancing long-standing inequities. In Paper #3 we’re going to take a closer look at law.


Specifically, Paper #3 is going to require that you take a very close-up look at a law (court-made law, legislative law, executive-created law, cultural law (that you can root in text of some kind or other law that you would like to focus on)). Even more specifically, you are going to become very familiar with a law that you think got something wrong.  You may choose any topic to examine through this paper, as long as you are thoroughly analyzing a law that you think handled your topic poorly, imperfectly, or otherwise not quite in a way you would have preferred.

A very recent example of this notion that a ‘law got something wrong’, is the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 24, 2022.  This case overturned a 40-year precedent on abortion, also set by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Roe v. Wade in 1973.  Both cases left individuals and whole communities feeling as though the ‘law got something wrong.’  After Roe, anti-abortion communities certainly felt like the court-made law ‘got it [the conclusion] wrong’. After Dobbs, pro-choice communities certainly felt like the court-made law ‘got it [the conclusion] wrong’.

Unfortunately, however, all too many of us never actually read the law that we think ‘got it wrong.’ We rely on others’ characterizations of what the law ‘did’ or ‘will do’ or what the law should mean to us – whether those characterizations come from family, media sources, or other voices who contribute to our life experiences. Therefore, this assignment is asking you to consider what topic out there in the world is important to you and then consider a law (at any level and in any manner) that you currently feel ‘got it wrong.’ Then, read it, read about it, and take this opportunity to analyze it to conclude, in your own words, whether you still think the law ‘got it wrong’ and exactly why you think that way.

Topics you have available to you are wide open: they might be some of the ‘big’ topics of our day (abortion, guns, climate change, voting rights, freedom to refuse service to individuals based on personal religious beliefs) or they might be something very personal – such as a school’s dress code that you felt was in the wrong (so long as you can find and cite to the specific language of that dress code).  So whether you’re annoyed at your own high school, a law in your faith institution, a current or previous law by a President of the United States, Congress, or Court – or at the United Nations or international law body – this is your chance to really see what you’ve been annoyed at, and then reason through exactly why you think the law got things wrong.

Prompt             Help me understand what the law you have chosen got wrong. 

NOTES:            This paper will require textual analysis. There must be some verifiable text for your paper to

                        work. So, if you want to write about your high school’s dress code, you need to Google it and find

                        the actual code. If you want to write about a law that is not yet a law, then you need to find a bill or

                        a proposed bill or the brief that someone wrote for the court in preparation for the case if it has not

                        been decided…. But there needs to be a text. The analysis of it is core to this paper.

            If you would like to rely on the topic in an earlier paper from our course or rely on a person you wrote about in one of our earlier papers, or, rely on a situation you wrote about – you may revisit some aspect of a previous paper (only from our course this term) and build on it if you so choose.

            If you choose to write about a court case, you may choose to write the paper as if you were also a judge – one who has chosen to write a concurring or dissenting opinion to the Majority opinion.

Logistics           Assignment should be 6-8 pages double spaced (use MLA format)

Previous           Law related to parking in Los Angeles

Paper Ideas      Law related to family leave from employment

                        Law prohibiting trangender individuals to use bathroom conforming to identity

                        Law banning books and curricula around the US

                        Law on legalizing or (not yet legalizing) marijuana

Recent court (5th Cir) allowing people found liable for domestic violence to still carry gun

Law allowing (or not allowing) individuals w terminal illness to end their lives with medical help

Law (at a middle or high school) policing what girls wear but not boys

The ‘cake’ case related to businesses being allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ+ community

A religious text that is interpreted by some to be anti-LGBTQ+

Current Supreme Ct case on affirmative action

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