28 U.S. Code § 1651 - Writs

prev | next
(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.
(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.


(June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 944; May 24, 1949, ch. 139, § 90,63 Stat. 102.)
Historical and Revision Notes

1948 Act
Based on title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §§ 342, 376, 377 (Mar. 3, 1911, ch. 231, §§ 234, 261, 262,36 Stat. 1156, 1162).
Section consolidates sections 342, 376, and 377 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., with necessary changes in phraseology.
Such section 342 provided:
“The Supreme Court shall have power to issue writs of prohibition to the district courts, when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; and writs of mandamus, in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts appointed under the authority of the United States, or to persons holding office under the authority of the United States, where a State, or an ambassador, or other public minister, or a consul, or vice consul is a party.”
Such section 376 provided:
“Writs of ne exeat may be granted by any justice of the Supreme Court, in cases where they might be granted by the Supreme Court; and by any district judge, in cases where they might be granted by the district court of which he is a judge. But no writ of ne exeat shall be granted unless a suit in equity is commenced, and satisfactory proof is made to the court or judge granting the same that the defendant designs quickly to depart from the United States.”
Such section 377 provided:
“The Supreme Court and the district courts shall have power to issue writs of scire facias. The Supreme Court, the circuit courts of appeals, and the district courts shall have power to issue all writs not specifically provided for by statute, which may be necessary for the exercise of their respective jurisdictions, and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”
The special provisions of section 342 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., with reference to writs of prohibition and mandamus, admiralty courts and other courts and officers of the United States were omitted as unnecessary in view of the revised section.
The revised section extends the power to issue writs in aid of jurisdiction, to all courts established by Act of Congress, thus making explicit the right to exercise powers implied from the creation of such courts.
The provisions of section 376 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., with respect to the powers of a justice or judge in issuing writs of ne exeat were changed and made the basis of subsection (b) of the revised section but the conditions and limitations on the writ of ne exeat were omitted as merely confirmatory of well-settled principles of law.
The provision in section 377 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., authorizing issuance of writs of scire facias, was omitted in view of rule 81(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure abolishing such writ. The revised section is expressive of the construction recently placed upon such section by the Supreme Court in U.S. Alkali Export Assn. v. U.S., 65 S.Ct. 1120, 325 U.S. 196, 89 L.Ed. 1554, and De Beers Consol. Mines v. U.S., 65 S.Ct. 1130, 325 U.S. 212, 89 L.Ed. 1566.
1949 Act
This section corrects a grammatical error in subsection (a) ofsection 1651 of title 28, U.S.C.

1949—Subsec. (a). Act May 24, 1949, inserted “and” after “jurisdictions”.
Writ of Error

Act Jan. 31, 1928, ch. 14, § 2,45 Stat. 54, as amended Apr. 26, 1928, ch. 440, 45 Stat. 466; June 25, 1948, ch. 646, § 23,62 Stat. 990, provided that: “All Acts of Congress referring to writs of error shall be construed as amended to the extent necessary to substitute appeal for writ of error.”

The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.

The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An empty table indicates that we see no relevant changes listed in the classification tables. If you suspect that our system may be missing something, please double-check with the Office of the Law Revision Counsel.

28 USCDescription of ChangeSession YearPublic LawStatutes at Large


LII has no control over and does not endorse any external Internet site that contains links to or references LII.