Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Rhetoric & Comm Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Linda B. Hobgood


In his book, The Ethics of Rhetoric, influential rhetoric and culture scholar Richard M. Weaver articulates a framework called Grammatical Categories. These classifications are used to identify both the motivation and implications of arguments. There are four discrete categories. The first, and least difficult to formulate is the argument from circumstance. The second Grammatical Category is cause and effect, which links an action to a consequence. The third category is called the argument from similitude in which, as the name implies, the rhetor looks for inherent connections between certain objects or ideas. Finally, the argument from definition (or principle) is the most powerful and longlasting.

In this paper I plan to analyze the Supreme Court majority and dissenting opinions from five landmark cases representing this issue of civil rights and affirmative action using Richard Weaver's Grammatical Categories. I chose these cases by examining the abundance of jurisprudence in this area and selecting the five cases which legal scholars and historians alike have agreed upon to be the most influential. Each case had a unique and significant impact on the institution of race relations in the United States of America. These five are: Scott v. Sanford (1856), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) and Grutte r vs. Bollinger (2003). I will evaluate both the quality of the arguments, and based on that, the longevity they will likely enjoy. According to Weaver, the more highly ranked category of argument used, the more likely the case is to withstand future examination. I will trace the evolution of this issue, as well as types of arguments employed by justices on each side of the case. In so doing, Weaver's assertion is put to the test.