a fortiori

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A fortiori signals an argument that it is based on an even stronger argument. In Latin, the term literally means ‘from [the] stronger’. A fortiori is generally used to suggest that an argument is based on another argument so strong as to make it unanswerable. An argument a fortiori may be rebutted, however, by challenging whether such a conclusion may truly be drawn from the stronger argument.

For example:

  • In Bobby v. Van Hook, the court held that “what the Supreme Court has said of state requirements is a fortiori true of standards set by private organizations.”
  • In Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., the court held “that Congress may identify and redress the effects of society-wide discrimination does not mean that, a fortiori, the States and their political subdivisions are free to decide that such remedies are appropriate.”

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]