The Requirement of a Real Interest
Almost inseparable from the requirements of adverse parties and substantial enough interests to confer standing is the requirement that a real issue be presented, as contrasted with speculative, abstract, hypothetical, or moot issues. It has long been the Court’s “considered practice not to decide abstract, hypothetical or contingent questions.”532 A party cannot maintain a suit “for a mere declaration in the air.”533 In Texas v. ICC,534 the State attempted to enjoin the enforcement of the Transportation Act of 1920 on the ground that it invaded the reserved rights of the State. The Court dismissed the complaint as presenting no case or controversy, declaring: “It is only where rights, in themselves appropriate subjects of judicial cognizance, are being, or about to be, affected prejudicially by the application or enforcement of a statute that its validity may be called in question by a suitor and determined by an exertion of the judicial power.”535 And in Ashwander v. TVA,536 the Court refused to decide any issue save that of the validity of the contracts between the Authority and the Company. “The pronouncements, policies and program of the Tennessee Valley Authority and its directors, their motives and desires, did not give rise to a justiciable controversy save as they had fruition in action of a definite and concrete character constituting an actual or threatened interference with the rights of the person complaining.”537
Concepts of real interest and abstract questions appeared prominently in United Public Workers v. Mitchell,538 an omnibus attack on the constitutionality of the Hatch Act prohibitions on political activities by governmental employees. With one exception, none of the plaintiffs had violated the Act, though they stated they desired to engage in forbidden political actions. The Court found no justiciable controversy except in regard to the one, calling for “concrete legal issues, presented in actual cases, not abstractions,” and seeing the suit as really an attack on the political expediency of the Act.
In 1793, the Court unanimously refused to grant the request of President Washington and Secretary of State Jefferson to construe the treaties and laws of the United States pertaining to questions of international law arising out of the wars of the French Revolution.540 Noting the constitutional separation of powers and functions in his reply, Chief Justice Jay said: “These being in certain respects checks upon each other, and our being Judges of a Court in the last resort, are considerations which afford strong arguments against the propriety of our extra-judicially deciding the questions alluded to, especially as the power given by the Constitution to the President, of calling on the heads of departments for opinions, seem to have been purposely as well as expressly united to the Executive departments.”541 Although the Court has generally adhered to its refusal, Justice Jackson was not quite correct when he termed the policy a “firm and unvarying practice. . . .”542 The Justices in response to a letter calling for suggestions on improvements in the operation of the courts drafted a letter suggesting that circuit duty for the Justices was unconstitutional, but they apparently never sent it;543 Justice Johnson communicated to President Monroe, apparently with the knowledge and approval of the other Justices, the views of the Justices on the constitutionality of internal improvements legislation;544 and Chief Justice Hughes in a letter to Senator Wheeler on President Roosevelt’s Court Plan questioned the constitutionality of a proposal to increase the membership and have the Court sit in divisions.545 Other Justices have individually served as advisers and confidants of Presidents in one degree or another.546
Nonetheless, the Court has generally adhered to the early precedent and would no doubt have developed the rule in any event, as a logical application of the case and controversy doctrine. As Justice Jackson wrote when the Court refused to review an order of the Civil Aeronautics Board, which in effect was a mere recommendation to the President for his final action: “To revise or review an administrative decision which has only the force of a recommendation to the President would be to render an advisory opinion in its most obnoxious form—advice that the President has not asked, tendered at the demand of a private litigant, on a subject concededly within the President’s exclusive, ultimate control. This Court early and wisely determined that it would not give advisory opinions even when asked by the Chief Executive. It has also been the firm and unvarying practice of Constitutional Courts to render no judgments not binding and conclusive on the parties and none that are subject to later review or alteration by administrative action.”547 The Court’s early refusal to render advisory opinions has discouraged direct requests for advice so that the advisory opinion has appeared only collaterally in cases where there was a lack of adverse parties,548 or where the judgment of the Court was subject to later review or action by the executive or legislative branches of government,549 or where the issues involved were abstract or contingent.550
Rigid emphasis upon such ele- ments of judicial power as finality of judgment and award of execution coupled with equally rigid emphasis upon adverse parties and real interests as essential elements of a case and controversy created serious doubts about the validity of any federal declaratory judgment procedure.551 These doubts were largely dispelled by Court decisions in the late 1920s and early 1930s,552 and Congress quickly responded with the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934.553 Quickly tested, the Act was unanimously sustained.554 “The principle involved in this form of procedure,” the House report said, “is to confer upon the courts the power to exercise in some instances preventive relief; a function now performed rather clumsily by our equitable proceedings and inadequately by the law courts.”555 The Senate report stated: “The declaratory judgment differs in no essential respect from any other judgment except that it is not followed by a decree for damages, injunction, specific performance, or other immediately coercive decree. It declares conclusively and finally the rights of parties in litigations over a contested issue, a form of relief which often suffices to settle controversies and fully administer justice.”556
The 1934 Act provided that “[i]n cases of actual controversy” federal courts could “declare rights and other legal relations of any interested party petitioning for such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be prayed. . . .”557 Upholding the Act, the Court wrote: “The Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934, in its limitation to ‘cases of actual controversy,’ manifestly has regard to the constitutional provision and is operative only in respect to controversies which are such in the constitutional sense. The word ‘actual’ is one of emphasis rather than of definition. Thus the operation of the Declaratory Judgment Act is procedural only. In providing remedies and defining procedure in relation to cases and controversies in the constitutional sense the Congress is acting within its delegated power over the jurisdiction of the federal courts which the Congress is authorized to establish.”558 Finding that the case presented a definite and concrete controversy, the Court held that a declaration should have been issued.559
The Court has insisted that “the requirements for a justiciable case or controversy are no less strict in a declaratory judgment proceeding than in any other type of suit.”560 As Justice Douglas wrote: “The difference between an abstract question and a ‘controversy’ contemplated by the Declaratory Judgment Act is necessarily one of degree, and it would be difficult, if it would be possible, to fashion a precise test for determining in every case whether there is such a controversy. Basically, the question in each case is whether the facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”561 It remains, therefore, for the courts to determine in each case the degree of controversy necessary to establish a case for purposes of jurisdiction. Even then, however, the Court is under no compulsion to exercise its jurisdiction.562 Use of declaratory judgments to settle disputes and identify rights in many private areas, like insurance and patents in particular but extending into all areas of civil litigation, except taxes,563 is common. The Court has, however, at various times demonstrated a substantial reluctance to have important questions of public law, especially regarding the validity of legislation, resolved by such a procedure.564 In part, this has been accomplished by a strict insistence upon concreteness, ripeness, and the like.565 Nonetheless, even at such times, several noteworthy constitutional decisions were rendered in declaratory judgment actions.566
As part of the 1960s hospitality to greater access to courts, the Court exhibited a greater receptivity to declaratory judgments in constitutional litigation, especially cases involving civil liberties issues.567 The doctrinal underpinnings of this hospitality were sketched out by Justice Brennan in his opinion for the Court in Zwickler v. Koota,568 in which the relevance to declaratory judgments of the Dombrowski v. Pfister569 line of cases involving federal injunctive relief against the enforcement of state criminal statutes was in issue. First, it was held that the vesting of “federal question” jurisdiction in the federal courts by Congress following the Civil War, as well as the enactment of more specific civil rights jurisdictional statutes, “imposed the duty upon all levels of the federal judiciary to give due respect to a suitor’s choice of a federal forum for the hearing and decision of his federal constitutional claims.”570 Escape from that duty might be found only in “narrow circumstances,” such as an appropriate application of the abstention doctrine, which was not proper where a statute affecting civil liberties was so broad as to reach protected activities as well as unprotected activities. Second, the judicially developed doctrine that a litigant must show “special circumstances” to justify the issuance of a federal injunction against the enforcement of state criminal laws is not applicable to requests for federal declaratory relief: “a federal district court has the duty to decide the appropriateness and the merits of the declaratory request irrespective of its conclusion as to the propriety of the issuance of the injunction.”571 This language was qualified subsequently, so that declaratory and injunctive relief were equated in cases in which a criminal prosecution is pending in state court at the time the federal action is filed572 or is begun in state court after the filing of the federal action but before any proceedings of substance have taken place in federal court,573 and federal courts were instructed not to issue declaratory judgments in the absence of the factors permitting issuance of injunctions under the same circumstances. But in the absence of a pending state action or the subsequent and timely filing of one, a request for a declaratory judgment that a statute or ordinance is unconstitutional does not have to meet the stricter requirements justifying the issuance of an injunction.574
Just as standing historically has concerned who may bring an action in federal court, the ripeness doctrine concerns when it may be brought. Formerly, it was a wholly constitutional principle requiring a determination that the events bearing on the substantive issue have happened or are sufficiently certain to occur so as to make adjudication necessary and so as to assure that the issues are sufficiently defined to permit intelligent resolution. The focus was on the harm to the rights claimed rather than on the harm to the plaintiff that gave him standing to bring the action,575 although, to be sure, in most cases the harm is the same. But in liberalizing the doctrine of ripeness in recent years the Court subdivided it into constitutional and prudential parts576 and conflated standing and ripeness considerations.577
The early cases generally required potential plaintiffs to expose themselves to possibly irreparable injury in order to invoke federal judicial review. Thus, in United Public Workers v. Mitchell,578 government employees alleged that they wished to engage in various political activities and that they were deterred from their desires by the Hatch Act prohibitions on political activities. As to all but one plaintiff, who had himself actually engaged in forbidden activity, the Court held itself unable to adjudicate because the plaintiffs were not threatened with “actual interference” with their interests. The Justices viewed the threat to plaintiffs’ rights as hypothetical and refused to speculate about the kinds of political activity they might engage in or the Government’s response to it. “No threat of interference by the Commission with rights of these appellants appears beyond that implied by the existence of the law and the regulations.”579 Similarly, resident aliens planning to work in the Territory of Alaska for the summer and then return to the United States were denied a request for an interpretation of the immigration laws that they would not be treated on their return as excludable aliens entering the United States for the first time, or alternatively, for a ruling that the laws so interpreted would be unconstitutional. The resident aliens had not left the country and attempted to return, although other alien workers had gone and been denied reentry, and the immigration authorities were on record as intending to enforce the laws as they construed them.580 Of course, the Court was not entirely consistent in applying the doctrine.581
It remains good general law that pre-enforcement challenges to criminal and regulatory legislation will often be unripe for judicial consideration because of uncertainty of enforcement,582 because the plaintiffs can allege only a subjective feeling of inhibition or fear arising from the legislation or from enforcement of it,583 or because the courts need before them the details of a concrete factual situation arising from enforcement in order to engage in a reasoned balancing of individual rights and governmental interests.584 But one who challenges a statute or possible administrative action need demonstrate only a realistic danger of sustaining an injury to his rights as a result of the statute’s operation and enforcement and need not await the consummation of the threatened injury in order to obtain preventive relief, such as exposing himself to actual arrest or prosecution. When one alleges an intention to engage in conduct arguably affected with a constitutional interest but proscribed by statute and there exists a credible threat of prosecution thereunder, he may bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief.585 Similarly, the reasonable certainty of the occurrence of the perceived threat to a constitutional interest is sufficient to afford a basis for bringing a challenge, provided the court has sufficient facts before it to enable it to intelligently adjudicate the issues.586
Of considerable uncertainty in the law of ripeness is Duke Power, in which the Court held ripe for decision on the merits a challenge to a federal law limiting liability for nuclear accidents at nuclear power plants, on the basis that, because the plaintiffs had sustained an injury-in-fact and had standing, the Article III requisite of ripeness was satisfied and no additional facts arising out of the occurrence of the claimed harm would enable the court better to decide the issues.587 Should this analysis prevail, ripeness as a limitation on justiciability will decline in importance.
A case initially presenting all the attributes neces- sary for federal court litigation may at some point lose some attribute of justiciability and become “moot.” The usual rule is that an actual controversy must exist at all stages of trial and appellate consideration and not simply at the date the action is initiated.588 “Under Article III of the Constitution, federal courts may adjudicate only actual, ongoing cases or controversies. . . . Article III denies federal courts the power ‘to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them,’ . . . and confines them to resolving ‘real and substantial controvers[ies] admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.’ This case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate. To sustain our jurisdiction in the present case, it is not enough that a dispute was very much alive when suit was filed, or when review was obtained in the Court of Appeals. . . . The parties must continue to have a ‘personal stake in the outcome’ of the lawsuit.”589 Because, with the advent of declaratory judgments, it is open to the federal courts to “declare the rights and other legal relations” of the parties with res judicata effect,590 the question in cases alleged to be moot now seems largely if not exclusively to be decided in terms of whether an actual controversy continues to exist between the parties rather than in terms of any additional older concepts.591 So long as concrete, adverse legal interests between the parties continue, a case is not made moot by intervening actions that cast doubt on the practical enforceability of a final judicial order.592
Cases may become moot because of a change in the law,593 or in the status of the parties,594 or because of some act of one of the parties which dissolves the controversy.595 But the Court has developed several exceptions. Thus, in criminal cases, although the sentence of the convicted appellant has been served, the case “is moot only if it is shown that there is no possibility that any collateral legal consequences will be imposed on the basis of the challenged conviction.”596 The “mere possibility” of such a consequence, even a “remote” one, is enough to find that one who has served his sentence has retained the requisite personal stake giving his case “an adversary cast and making it justiciable.”597 This exception has its counterpart in civil litigation in which a lower court judgment may still have certain present or future adverse effects on the challenging party.598
A second exception, the “voluntary cessation” doctrine, focuses on whether challenged conduct which has lapsed or the utilization of a statute which has been superseded is likely to recur.599 Thus, cessation of the challenged activity by the voluntary choice of the person engaging in it, especially if he contends that he was properly engaging in it, will moot the case only if it can be said with assurance “that ‘there is no reasonable expectation that the wrong will be repeated.’ ”600 This amounts to a “formidable burden” of showing with absolute clarity that there is no reasonable prospect of renewed activity.601 Otherwise, “[t]he defendant is free to return to his old ways” and this fact would be enough to prevent mootness because of the “public interest in having the legality of the practices settled.”602 In this vein, the Court in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, informed by principles of contract law, held that an unaccepted offer to settle a lawsuit amounts to a “legal nullity” that fails to bind either party and therefore does not moot the litigation.603
Still a third exception concerns the ability to challenge short-term conduct which may recur in the future, which has been denominated as disputes “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”604 Thus, in cases in which (1) the challenged action is too short in its duration to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or expiration, and (2) there is a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party would be subjected to the same action again, mootness will not be found when the complained-of conduct ends.605 This exception is frequently invoked in cases involving situations of comparatively limited duration, such as elections,606 pregnancies,607 short sentences in criminal cases,608 the award of at least some short-term federal government contracts,609 and the issuance of injunctions that expire in a brief period.610
An interesting and potentially significant liberalization of the law of mootness, perhaps as part of a continuing circumstances exception, is occurring in the context of class action litigation. It is now clearly established that, when the controversy becomes moot as to the plaintiff in a certified class action, it still remains alive for the class he represents so long as an adversary relationship sufficient to constitute a live controversy between the class members and the other party exists.611 The Court was closely divided, however, with respect to the right of the named party, when the substantive controversy became moot as to him, to appeal as error the denial of a motion to certify the class which he sought to represent and which he still sought to represent. The Court held that in the class action setting there are two aspects of the Article III mootness question, the existence of a live controversy and the existence of a personal stake in the outcome for the named class representative.612 Finding a live controversy, the Court determined that the named plaintiff retained a sufficient interest, “a personal stake,” in his claimed right to represent the class in order to satisfy the “imperatives of a dispute capable of judicial resolution;” that is, his continuing interest adequately assures that “sharply presented issues” are placed before the court “in a concrete factual setting” with “self-interested parties vigorously advocating opposing positions.”613
The immediate effect of the decision is that litigation in which class actions are properly certified or in which they should have been certified will rarely ever be mooted if the named plaintiff (or in effect his attorney) chooses to pursue the matter, even though the named plaintiff can no longer obtain any personal relief from the decision sought.614 Of much greater potential significance is the possible extension of the weakening of the “personal stake” requirement in other areas, such as the representation of third-party claims in non-class actions and the initiation of some litigation in the form of a “private attorneys general” pursuit of adjudication.615 In Genesis Healthcare Corporation v. Symczyk,616 the Court appeared to follow the “personal stake” rule applicable to class actions in the context of “collective actions” under the Fair Labor Standards Act, at least to the extent that actions that would moot the plaintiff ’s claims prior to a “conditional certification” by the court would likewise moot the collective action.
Retroactivity Versus Prospectivity.
One of the distinguish- ing features of an advisory opinion is that it lays down a rule to be applied to future cases, much as does legislation generally. It should therefore follow that an Article III court could not decide purely prospective cases, cases which do not govern the rights and disabilities of the parties to the cases.617 The Court asserted that this principle is true, while applying it only to give retroactive effect to the parties to the immediate case.618 Yet, occasionally, the Court did not apply its holding to the parties before it,619 and in a series of cases beginning in the mid-1960s it became embroiled in attempts to limit the retroactive effect of its—primarily but not exclusively620 — constitutional-criminal law decisions. The results have been confusing and unpredictable.621
Prior to 1965, “both the common law and our own decisions recognized a general rule of retrospective effect for the constitutional decisions of this Court . . . subject to [certain] limited exceptions.”622 Statutory and judge-made law have consequences, at least to the extent that people must rely on them in making decisions and shaping their conduct. Therefore, the Court was moved to recognize that there should be a reconciling of constitutional interests reflected in a new rule of law with reliance interests founded upon the old.623 In both criminal and civil cases, however, the Court’s discretion to do so has been constrained by later decisions.
In the 1960s, when the Court began its expansion of the Bill of Rights and applied its rulings to the states, it became necessary to determine the application of the rulings to criminal defendants who had exhausted all direct appeals but who could still resort to habeas corpus, to those who had been convicted but still were on direct appeal, and to those who had allegedly engaged in conduct but who had not gone to trial. At first, the Court drew the line at cases in which judgments of conviction were not yet final, so that all persons in those situations obtained retrospective use of decisions,624 but the Court later promulgated standards for a balancing process that resulted in different degrees of retroactivity in different cases.625 Generally, in cases in which the Court declared a rule that was “a clear break with the past,” it denied retroactivity to all defendants, with the sometime exception of the appellant himself.626 With respect to certain cases in which a new rule was intended to overcome an impairment of the truth-finding function of a criminal trial627 or to cases in which the Court found that a constitutional doctrine barred the conviction or punishment of someone,628 full retroactivity, even to habeas claimants, was the rule. Justice Harlan strongly argued that the Court should sweep away its confusing balancing rules and hold that all defendants whose cases are still pending on direct appeal at the time of a law-changing decision should be entitled to invoke the new rule, but that no habeas claimant should be entitled to benefit.629
The Court later drew a sharp distinction between criminal cases pending on direct review and cases pending on collateral review. For cases on direct review, “a new rule for the conduct of criminal prosecutions is to be applied retroactively to all cases, state or federal, pending on direct review or not yet final, with no exception for cases in which the new rule constitutes a ‘clear break’ with the past.”630 Justice Harlan’s habeas approach was first adopted by a plurality in Teague v. Lane631 and then by the Court in Penry v. Lynaugh.632 Thus, for collateral review in federal courts of state court criminal convictions, the general rule is that “new rules” of constitutional interpretation—those “not ‘dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant’s conviction became final’ ”633 —will not be applied.634 However, “[a] new rule applies retroactively in a collateral proceeding only if (1) the rule is substantive or (2) the rule is a ‘watershed rul[e] of criminal procedure’ implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding.”635 Put another way, a new rule will be applied in a collateral proceeding only if it places certain kinds of conduct “beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to prescribe” or constitutes a “new procedure[ ] without which the likelihood of an accurate conviction is seriously diminished.”636 In Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Court extended the holding of Teague beyond the context of federal habeas review, such that when a new substantive rule of constitutional law controls the outcome of a case, state collateral review courts must give retroactive effect to that rule in the same manner as federal courts engaging in habeas review.637
As a result, at least with regard to the first exception, the Court has held that the Teague rule is constitutionally based,638 as substantive rules set forth categorical guarantees that place certain laws and punishments beyond a state’s power, making “the resulting conviction or sentence . . . by definition . . . unlawful.”639 In contrast, procedural rules are those that are aimed at enhancing the accuracy of a conviction or sentence by regulating the manner of determining the defendant’s guilt.640 As a consequence, with respect to a defendant who did not receive the benefit of a new procedural rule, the possibility exists that the underlying conviction or sentence may “still be accurate” and the “defendant’s continued confinement may still be lawful” under the Constitution.641 In this vein, the Court has described a substantive rule as one that alters the range of conduct that the law punishes, or that prohibits “a certain category of punishment for a class of defendants because of their status or offense.”642
Under the second exception it is “not enough under Teague to say that a new rule is aimed at improving the accuracy of a trial. More is required. A rule that qualifies under this exception must not only improve accuracy, but also alter our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements essential to the fairness of a proceeding.”643
What the rule is to be, and indeed if there is to be a rule, in civil cases has been disputed to a rough draw in recent cases. As was noted above, there is a line of civil cases, constitutional and nonconstitutional, in which the Court has declined to apply new rules, the result often of overruling older cases, retrospectively, sometimes even to the prevailing party in the case.644 As in criminal cases, the creation of new law, through overrulings or otherwise, may result in retroactivity in all instances, in pure prospectivity, or in partial prospectivity in which the prevailing party obtains the results of the new rule but no one else does. In two cases raising the question when states are required to refund taxes collected under a statute that is subsequently ruled unconstitutional, the Court revealed itself to be deeply divided.645 The question in Beam was whether the company could claim a tax refund under an earlier ruling holding unconstitutional the imposition of certain taxes upon its products. The holding of a fractionated Court was that it could seek a refund, because in the earlier ruling the Court had applied the holding to the contesting company, and, once a new rule has been applied retroactively to the litigants in a civil case, considerations of equality and stare decisis compel application to all.646 Although partial or selective prospectivity is thus ruled out, neither pure retroactivity nor pure prospectivity is either required or forbidden.
Four Justices adhered to the principle that new rules, as defined above, may be applied purely prospectively, without violating any tenet of Article III or any other constitutional value.647 Three Justices argued that all prospectivity, whether partial or total, violates Article III by expanding the jurisdiction of the federal courts beyond true cases and controversies.648 Apparently, the Court now has resolved this dispute, although the principal decision was by a five-to-four vote. In Harper v. Virginia Dep’t of Taxation,649 the Court adopted the principle of the Griffith decision in criminal cases and disregarded the Chevron Oil approach in civil cases. Henceforth, in civil cases, the rule is: “When this Court applies a rule of federal law to the parties before it, that rule is the controlling interpretation of federal law and must be given full retroactive effect in all cases open on direct review and as to all events, regardless of whether such events predate or postdate our announcement of the rule.”650 Four Justices continued to adhere to Chevron Oil, however,651 so that with one Justice each retired from the different sides one may not regard the issue as definitively settled.652 Future cases must, therefore, be awaited for resolution of this issue.
- Alabama State Fed’n of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461 (1945).
- Giles v. Harris, 189 U.S. 475, 486 (1903).
- 258 U.S. 158 (1922).
- 258 U.S. at 162.
- 297 U.S. 288 (1936).
- 297 U.S. at 324. Chief Justice Hughes cited New York v. Illinois, 274 U.S. 488 (1927), in which the Court dismissed as presenting abstract questions a suit about the possible effects of the diversion of water from Lake Michigan upon hypothetical water power developments in the indefinite future, and Arizona v. California, 283 U.S. 423 (1931), in which it was held that claims based merely upon assumed potential invasions of rights were insufficient to warrant judicial intervention. See also Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 484–485 (1923); New Jersey v. Sargent, 269 U.S. 328, 338–340 (1926); Georgia v. Stanton, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 50, 76 (1867).
- 330 U.S. 75 (1947).
- 330 U.S. at 89–91. Justices Black and Douglas dissented, contending that the controversy was justiciable. Justice Douglas could not agree that the plaintiffs should have to violate the act and lose their jobs in order to test their rights. In CSC v. National Ass’n of Letter Carriers, 413 U.S. 548 (1973), the concerns expressed in Mitchell were largely ignored as the Court reached the merits in an anticipatory attack on the Act. Compare Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968).
- 1 C. Warren, supra at 108–111. The full text of the exchange appears in 3 CORRESPONDENCE AND PUBLIC PAPERS OF JOHN JAY 486–489 (H. Johnston ed., 1893).
- Jay Papers at 488.
- Chicago & S. Air Lines v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 113 (1948).
- See supra.
- 1 C. Warren, supra at 595–597.
- Reorganization of the Judiciary: Hearings on S. 1392 Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 75th Congress, 1st Sess. (1937), pt. 3, 491. See also Chief Justice Taney’s private advisory opinion to the Secretary of the Treasury that a tax levied on the salaries of federal judges violated the Constitution. S. TYLER, MEMOIRS OF ROGER B. TANEY 432–435 (1876).
- E.g., Acheson, Removing the Shadow Cast on the Courts, 55 A.B.A.J. 919 (1969); Jaffe, Professors and Judges as Advisors to Government: Reflections on the Roosevelt-Frankfurter Relationship, 83 HARV. L. REV. 366 (1969). The issue earned the attention of the Supreme Court, Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361, 397–408 (1989) (citing examples and detailed secondary sources), when it upheld the congressionally authorized service of federal judges on the Sentencing Commission.
- Chicago & S. Air Lines v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 113–114 (1948).
- Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (1911).
- United States v. Ferreira, 54 U.S. (13 How.) 40 (1852).
- United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947).
- Cf. Willing v. Chicago Auditorium Ass’n, 277 U.S. 274 (1928).
- Fidelity National Bank & Trust Co. v. Swope, 274 U.S. 123 (1927); Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Wallace, 288 U.S. 249 (1963). Wallace was cited with approval in Medimmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 126 (2007) (“Article III’s limitation of federal courts’ jurisdiction to ‘Cases’ and ‘Controversies,’ reflected in the ‘actual controversy’ requirement of the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a), [does not] require[ ] a patent licensee to terminate or be in breach of its license agreement before it can seek a declaratory judgment that the underlying patent is invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed,” id. at 120–21).
- 48 Stat. 955, as amended, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201–2202.
- Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227 (1937) (cited with approval in Medimmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 126 (2007)).
- H. REP. NO. 1264, 73d Congress, 2d Sess. (1934), 2.
- S. REP. NO. 1005, 73d Congress, 2d Sess. (1934), 2.
- 48 Stat. 955. The language remains quite similar. 28 U.S.C. § 2201.
- Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 239–240 (1937).
- 300 U.S. at 242–44.
- Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461 (1945).
- Maryland Casualty Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co., 312 U.S. 270, 273 (1941).
- Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of America, 316 U.S. 491, 494 (1942); Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237, 243 (1952); Public Affairs Associates v. Rickover, 369 U.S. 111, 112 (1962). See also Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277 (1995).
- An exception “with respect to Federal taxes” was added in 1935. 49 Stat. 1027. The Tax Injunction Act of 1937, 50 Stat. 738, U.S.C. § 1341, prohibited federal injunctive relief directed at state taxes but said nothing about declaratory relief. It was held to apply, however, in California v. Grace Brethren Church, 457 U.S. 393 (1982). Earlier, in Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Huffman, 319 U.S. 293 (1943), the Court had reserved the issue but held that considerations of comity should preclude federal courts from giving declaratory relief in such cases. Cf. Fair Assessment in Real Estate Ass’n v. McNary, 454 U.S. 100 (1981).
- E.g., Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936); Electric Bond Co. v. SEC, 303 U.S. 419 (1938); United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947); Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426 (1948); Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549, 572–573 (1947).
- United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947); Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961); Altvater v. Freeman, 319 U.S. 359 (1943); International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd, 347 U.S. 222 (1954); Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237 (1952).
- E.g., Currin v. Wallace, 306 U.S. 1 (1939); Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939); Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936); Evers v. Dwyer, 358 U.S. 202 (1958).
- E.g., Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360 (1964); Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967); Turner v. City of Memphis, 369 U.S. 350 (1962); Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486 (1969). But see Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969).
- 389 U.S. 241 (1967).
- 380 U.S. 479 (1965).
- Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 248 (1967).
- Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 254 (1967).
- Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66 (1971). The case and its companion, Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), substantially undercut much of the Dombrowski language and much of Zwickler was downgraded.
- Hicks v. Miranda, 422 U.S. 332, 349 (1975).
- Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452 (1974). In cases covered by Steffel, the federal court may issue preliminary or permanent injunctions to protect its judgments, without satisfying the Younger tests. Doran v. Salem Inn, 422 U.S. 922, 930–931 (1975); Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 712 (1977).
- United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947); International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd, 347 U.S. 222 (1954). For recent examples of lack of ripeness, see Ohio Forestry Ass’n v. Sierra Club, 523 U.S. 726 (1998); Texas v. United States, 523 U.S. 296 (1998).
- Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102, 138–148 (1974) (certainty of injury a constitutional limitation, factual adequacy element a prudential one).
- Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 81–82 (1978) (that plaintiffs suffer injury-in-fact and such injury would be redressed by granting requested relief satisfies Article III ripeness requirement; prudential element satisfied by determination that Court would not be better prepared to render a decision later than now). But compare Renne v. Geary, 501 U.S. 312 (1991).
- 330 U.S. 75 (1947).
- 330 U.S. at 90. In CSC v. National Ass’n of Letter Carriers, 413 U.S. 548 (1973), without discussing ripeness, the Court decided on the merits anticipatory attacks on the Hatch Act. Plaintiffs had, however, alleged a variety of more concrete infringements upon their desires and intentions than the UPW plaintiffs had.
- International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd, 347 U.S. 222 (1954). See also Electric Bond Co. v. SEC, 303 U.S. 419 (1938); Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450 (1945); Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237 (1952); Socialist Labor Party v. Gilligan, 406 U.S. 583 (1972).
- In Adler v. Board of Educ., 342 U.S. 485 (1952), without discussing ripeness, the Court decided on the merits a suit about a state law requiring dismissal of teachers advocating violent overthrow of the government, over a strong dissent arguing the case was indistinguishable from Mitchell. Id. at 504 (Justice Frankfurter dissenting). In Cramp v. Board of Pub. Instruction, 368 U.S. 278 (1961), a state employee was permitted to attack a non-Communist oath, although he alleged he believed he could take the oath in good faith and could prevail if prosecuted, because the oath was so vague as to subject plaintiff to the “risk of unfair prosecution and the potential deterrence of constitutionally protected conduct.” Id. at 283–84. See also Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360 (1964); Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967).
- E.g., Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961) (no adjudication of challenge to law barring use of contraceptives because in 80 years of the statute’s existence the state had never instituted a prosecution). But compare Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1987) (merits reached in absence of enforcement and fair indication state would not enforce it); Vance v. Amusement Co., 445 U.S. 308 (1980) (reaching merits, although state asserted law would not be used, although local prosecutor had so threatened; no discussion of ripeness, but dissent relied on Poe, id. at 317–18).
- E.g., Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 41–42 (1971); Boyle v. Landry, 401 U.S. 77 (1971); Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969); O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974); Spomer v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 514 (1974); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). In the context of the ripeness to challenge of agency regulations, as to which there is a presumption of available judicial remedies, the Court has long insisted that federal courts should be reluctant to review such regulations unless the effects of administrative action challenged have been felt in a concrete way by the challenging parties, i.e., unless the controversy is “ripe.” See, of the older cases, Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136 (1967); Toilet Goods Ass’n, Inc. v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 158 (1967); Gardner v. Toilet Goods Ass’n, Inc., 387 U.S. 167 (1967). More recent cases include Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U.S. 43 (1993); Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 891 (1990).
- E.g., California Bankers Ass’n v. Schultz, 416 U.S. 21 (1974); Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Recl. Ass’n, 452 U.S. 264, 294–297 (1981); Renne v. Geary, 501 U.S. 312, 320–323 (1991).
- Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452 (1974); Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 707–708, 710 (1977); Babbitt v. United Farm Workers, 442 U.S. 289, 297–305 (1979) (finding some claims ripe, others not). Compare Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 188–189 (1973), with Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 127–128 (1973). See also Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379 (1979).
- Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 113–118 (1976); Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102, 138–148 (1974) (holding some but not all the claims ripe). See also Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996, 997 (Justice Powell concurring) (parties had not put themselves in opposition).
- Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 81–82 (1978). The injury giving standing to plaintiffs was the environmental harm arising from the plant’s routine operation; the injury to their legal rights was alleged to be the harm caused by the limitation of liability in the event of a nuclear accident. The standing injury had occurred, the ripeness injury was conjectural and speculative and might never occur. See id. at 102 (Justice Stevens concurring in the result). It is evident on the face of the opinion and expressly stated by the objecting Justices that the Court used its standing/ripeness analyses in order to reach the merits, so as to remove the constitutional cloud cast upon the federal law by the district court decision. Id. at 95, 103 (Justices Rehnquist and Stevens concurring in the result).
- E.g., United States v. Munsingwear, 340 U.S. 36 (1950); Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 108 (1969); SEC v. Medical Committee for Human Rights, 404 U.S. 403 (1972); Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125 (1973); Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 398–399 (1975); United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 397 (1980), and id. at 411 (Justice Powell dissenting); Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361, 363 (1987); Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 317 (1988); Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477–478 (1990); Camreta V. Greene, 563 U.S. ___, No. 09–1954, slip op. (2011); United States v. Juvenile Male, 564 U.S. ___, No. 09–940, slip op. at 4 (2011). Munsingwear has long stood for the proposition that the appropriate practice of the Court in a civil case that had become moot while on the way to the Court or after certiorari had been granted was to vacate or reverse and remand with directions to dismiss. In U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership, 513 U.S. 18 (1994), however, the Court held that when mootness occurs because the parties have reached a settlement, vacatur of the judgment below is ordinarily not the best practice; instead, equitable principles should be applied so as to preserve a presumptively correct and valuable precedent, unless a court concludes that the public interest would be served by vacatur.
- Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477–78 (1990) (internal citations omitted). The Court’s emphasis upon mootness as a constitutional limitation mandated by Article III is long stated in the cases. E.g., Liner v. Jafco, 375 U.S. 301, 306 n.3 (1964); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974); Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 57 (1968). See Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 317 (1988), and id. at 332 (Justice Scalia dissenting). But compare Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 424 U.S. 747, 756 n.8 (1976) (referring to mootness as presenting policy rather than constitutional considerations).
- But see Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 470–72 (1974); id. at 477 (Justice White concurring), 482 n.3 (Justice Rehnquist concurring) (on res judicata effect in state court in subsequent prosecution). In any event, the statute authorizes the federal court to grant “[f]urther necessary or proper relief,” which could include enjoining state prosecutions.
- Award of process and execution are no longer essential to the concept of judicial power. Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227 (1937).
- Chafin v. Chafin, 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–1347, slip op. (2013) (appeal of district court order returning custody of a child to her mother in Scotland not made moot by physical return of child to Scotland and subsequent ruling of Scottish court in favor of the mother continuing to have custody).
- E.g., Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 54 U.S. (13 How.) 518 (1852); United States v. Alaska Steamship Co., 253 U.S. 113 (1920); Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45 (1969); Sanks v. Georgia, 401 U.S. 144 (1971); Richardson v. Wright, 405 U.S. 208 (1972); Diffenderfer v. Central Baptist Church, 404 U.S. 412 (1972); Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 481 (1990). But compare City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc., 455 U.S. 283, 288–289 (1982) (case not mooted by repeal of ordinance, since City made clear its intention to reenact it if free from lower court judgment); see also Decker v. Nw. Envtl. Def. Ctr., 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–338, slip op. (2013) (action to enforce penalty under former regulation not mooted by change in regulation where violation occurred before regulation was changed). Following Aladdin’s Castle, the Court in Northeastern Fla. Ch. of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 660–63 (1993), held that when a municipal ordinance is repealed but replaced by one sufficiently similar so that the challenged action in effect continues, the case is not moot. But see id. at 669 (Justice O’Connor dissenting) (modification of ordinance more significant and case is mooted).
- Atherton Mills v. Johnston, 259 U.S. 13 (1922) (in challenge to laws regulating labor of youths 14 to 16, Court held case two-and-one-half years after argument and dismissed as moot since certainly none of the challengers was now in the age bracket); Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974); Dove v. United States, 423 U.S. 325 (1976); Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624 (1982). Compare County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625 (1979), with Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480 (1980). In Arizonans For Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43 (1997), a state employee attacking an English-only work requirement had standing at the time she brought the suit, but she resigned following a decision in the trial court, thus mooting the case before it was taken to the appellate court, which should not have acted to hear and decide it.
- E.g., Commercial Cable Co. v. Burleson, 250 U.S. 360 (1919); Oil Workers Local 8–6 v. Missouri, 361 U.S. 363 (1960); A.L. Mechling Barge Lines v. United States, 368 U.S. 324 (1961); Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395 (1975); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625 (1979); Alvarez v. Smith, 558 U.S. ___, No. 08–351 (2009).
- Sibron v. New York, 395 U.S. 40, 50–58 (1968). But compare Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1 (1998).
- Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784, 790–791 (1969). The cases have progressed from leaning toward mootness to leaning strongly against. E.g., St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41 (1943); Fiswick v. United States, 329 U.S. 211 (1946); United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502 (1954); Pollard v. United States, 352 U.S. 354 (1957); Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 633–634 n.2 (1968); Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 49–58 (1968).But see Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624 (1982);United States v. Juvenile Male, 564 U.S. ___, No. 09–940, slip op. at 6 (2011) (per curiam) (rejecting as too indirect a benefit that favorable resolution of a case might serve as beneficial precedent for a future case involving the plaintiff). The exception permits review at the instance of the prosecution as well as defendant. Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977). When a convicted defendant dies while his case is on direct review, the Court’s present practice is to dismiss the petition for certiorari. Dove v. United States, 423 U.S. 325 (1976), overruling Durham v. United States, 401 U.S. 481 (1971).
- Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 433, 452 (1911); Carroll v. President & Commr’s of Princess Anne, 393 U.S. 175 (1968). See Super Tire Engineering Co. v. McCorkle, 416 U.S. 115 (1974) (holding that expiration of strike did not moot employer challenge to state regulations entitling strikers to state welfare assistance since the consequences of the regulations would continue).
- United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Ass’n, 166 U.S. 290 (1897); Walling v. Helmerich & Payne, 323 U.S. 37 (1944); Porter v. Lee, 328 U.S. 246 (1946); United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629 (1953); Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368 (1963); United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass’n, 393 U.S. 199, 202–04 (1969); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 318 (1974); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631–34 (1979), and id. at 641–46 (Justice Powell dissenting); Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 486–487 (1980), and id. at 500–01 (Justice Stewart dissenting); Princeton University v. Schmidt, 455 U.S. 100 (1982); City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc., 455 U.S. 283, 288–289 (1982).
- United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 633 (1953) (quoting United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, 148 F.2d 416, 448 (2d. Cir. 1945)).
- Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc., 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–982, slip op. at 4 (2013) (dismissal of a trademark infringement claim against rival and submittal of an unconditional and irrevocable covenant not to sue satisfied the burden under the voluntary cessation test) (citing Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167, 190 (2000)). See also Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U.S. ___, No. 15–577, slip op. at 5 n.1 (2017) (holding that a governor’s announcement that religious organizations could compete for state monetary grants did not moot a case challenging a previous policy of issuing grants only to non-religious entities as the state had failed to carry its “heavy burden” of “making absolutely clear” that it could not revert to its policy of excluding religious organizations from the grant program).
- United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 632 (1953). But see A.L. Mechling Barge Lines v. United States, 368 U.S. 324 (1961).
- 577 U.S. ___, No. 14–857, slip op. at 7–9 (2016) (“[W]ith no settlement offer still operative, the parties remained adverse; both retained the same stake in the litigation that they had at the outset.”). The Campbell-Ewald decision was limited to the question of whether an offer of complete relief moots a case. The Court left open the question of whether the payment of complete relief by a defendant to a plaintiff can render a case moot. Id. at 11.
- Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 515 (1911).
- Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 149 (1975); Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. 478, 482 (1982). See Super Tire Engineering Co. v. McCorkle, 416 U.S. 115, 125–26 (1974), and id. at 130–32 (Justice Stewart dissenting), Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167, 189–91 (2000),. The degree of expectation or likelihood that the issue will recur has frequently divided the Court. Compare Murphy v. Hunt, with Nebraska Press Ass’n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539 (1976); compare Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 318–23 (1988), with id. at 332 (Justice Scalia dissenting).
- See, e.g., Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 737 n.8 (1974); Rosario v. Rockefeller, 410 U.S. 752, 756 n.5 (1973); Moore v. Ogilvie, 394 U.S. 814, 816 (1969).
- See Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 124–125 (1973).
- See, e.g., Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 49–58 (1968). See also Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).
- See, e.g., Kingdomware Techs., Inc. v. United States, 579 U.S. ___, No. 14–916, slip op. at 7 (2016) (“We have previously held that a period of two years is too short to complete judicial review of the lawfulness of [a] procurement.”) (citing S. Pac. Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 514–16 (1911)).
- See, e.g., Carroll v. President & Commr’s of Princess Anne, 393 U.S. 175 (1968). See Neb. Press Ass’n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539 (1976) (short-term court order restricting press coverage).
- Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393 (1975); Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 424 U.S. 747, 752–757 (1976). A suit which proceeds as a class action but without formal certification may not receive the benefits of this rule. Board of School Commr’s v. Jacobs, 420 U.S. 128 (1975). See also Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147 (1975); Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler, 427 U.S. 424, 430 (1976). But see the characterization of these cases in United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 400 n.7 (1980). Mootness is not necessarily avoided in properly certified cases, but the standards of determination are unclear. See Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119 (1977).
- United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 396 (1980).
- 445 U.S. at 403. Justices Powell, Stewart, Rehnquist, and Chief Justice Burger dissented, id. at 409, arguing there could be no Article III personal stake in a procedural decision separate from the outcome of the case. In Deposit Guaranty Nat’l Bank v. Roper, 445 U.S. 326 (1980), in an opinion by Chief Justice Burger, the Court held that a class action was not mooted when defendant tendered to the named plaintiffs the full amount of recovery they had individually asked for and could hope to retain. Plaintiffs’ interest in shifting part of the share of costs of litigation to those who would share in its benefits if the class were certified was deemed to be a sufficient “personal stake”. Cf. Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 569 U.S. ___, No. 11–1059, slip op. (2013) (in the context of a “collective action” under the Fair Labor Standards Act where a plaintiff ’s individual claim was moot and no other individuals had joined the suit, holding that a plaintiff had no personal stake in the case that provided the court with subject matter jurisdiction). In a slightly different context, the Court, in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, held that neither an unaccepted settlement offer or an offer of judgment provided prior to class certification would moot a potential lead plaintiff ’s case. 577 U.S. ___, No. 14–857, slip op. at 11 (2016). According to the majority opinion, this holding avoided placing defendants in the “driver’s seat” with respect to class litigation wherein a defendant’s offer of settlement could eliminate a court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate potentially costly class actions. Id.
- The named plaintiff must still satisfy the class action requirement of adequacy of representation. United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 405–407 (1980). On the implications of Geraghty, which the Court has not returned to, see Hart & Wechsler (6th ed.), supra at 194–198.
- Geraghty, 445 U.S. at 404 & n.11.
- 569 U.S. ___, No. 11–1059, slip op. (2013).
- For a masterful discussion of the issue in both criminal and civil contexts, see Fallon & Meltzer, New Law, Non-Retroactivity, and Constitutional Remedies, 104 HARV. L. REV. 1731 (1991).
- Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 301 (1967).
- England v. Louisiana Bd. of Medical Examiners, 375 U.S. 411, 422 (1964); James v. United States, 366 U.S. 213 (1961). See also Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 490 (1972).
- Noncriminal constitutional cases included Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192 (1973); City of Phoenix v. Kolodziejski, 399 U.S. 204 (1970); Cipriano v. City of Houma, 395 U.S. 701 (1969). Indeed, in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), and Northern Pipeline Constr. Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., 458 U.S. 50 (1982), the Court postponed the effectiveness of its decision for a period during which Congress could repair the flaws in the statute. Noncriminal, nonconstitutional cases include Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97 (1971); Allen v. State Board of Elections, 393 U.S. 544 (1969); Hanover Shoe v. United Shoe Machinery Corp., 392 U.S. 481 (1968); Simpson v. Union Oil Co., 377 U.S. 13 (1964).
- Because of shifting coalitions of Justices, Justice Harlan complained, the course of retroactivity decisions “became almost as difficult to follow as the tracks made by a beast of prey in search of its intended victim.” Mackey v. United States, 401 U.S. 667, 676 (1971) (separate opinion).
- Robinson v. Neil, 409 U.S. 505, 507 (1973). The older rule of retroactivity derived from the Blackstonian notion “that the duty of the court was not to ‘pronounce a new law, but to maintain and expound the old one.’ ” Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 622–23 (1965) (quoting 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *69).
- Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192, 198–99 (1973).
- Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618 (1965); Tehan v. United States ex rel. Shott, 382 U.S. 406 (1966).
- Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719 (1966); Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293 (1967); Adams v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 278 (1972).
- Desist v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 248 (1969); United States v. Peltier, 422 U.S. 531 (1975); Brown v. Louisiana, 447 U.S. 323, 335–36 (1980) (plurality opinion); Michigan v. Payne, 412 U.S. 47, 55 (1973); United States v. Johnson, 457 U.S. 537, 549–50, 551–52 (1982).
- Williams v. United States, 401 U.S. 646, 653 (1971) (plurality opinion); Brown v. Louisiana, 447 U.S. 323, 328–30 (1980) (plurality opinion); Hankerson v. North Carolina, 432 U.S. 233, 243 (1977).
- United States v. United States Coin & Currency, 401 U.S. 715, 724 (1971); Moore v. Illinois, 408 U.S. 786, 800 (1972); Robinson v. Neil, 409 U.S. 505, 509 (1973).
- Mackey v. United States, 401 U.S. 667, 675 (1971) (separate opinion); Desist v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 256 (1969) (dissenting). Justice Powell has also strongly supported the proposed rule. Hankerson v. North Carolina, 432 U.S. 233, 246–248 (1977) (concurring in judgment); Brown v. Louisiana, 447 U.S. 323, 337 (1980) (concurring in judgment).
- Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314, 328 (1987) (cited with approval in Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 416 (2007)).
- 489 U.S. 288 (1989).
- 492 U.S. 302 (1989).
- Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 416 (2007). Put another way, it is not enough that a decision is “within the ‘logical compass’ of an earlier decision, or indeed that it is ‘controlled’ by a prior decision.” A decision announces a “new rule” if its result “was susceptible to debate among reasonable minds” and if it was not “an illogical or even a grudging application” of the prior decision. Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 412–415 (1990). For additional elaboration on “new law,” see O’Dell v. Netherland, 521 U.S. 151 (1997); Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518 (1997); Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152 (1996). But compare Bousley v. Brooks, 523 U.S. 614 (1998).
- For an example of the application of the Teague rule in federal collateral review of a federal court conviction, see Chaidez v. United States, 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–820, slip op. (2013). See also Welch v. United States, 578 U.S. ___, No. 15–6418, slip op. at 7 (2016) (assuming, without deciding, that the Teague framework “applies in a federal collateral challenge to a federal conviction as it does in a federal collateral challenge to a state conviction”).
- Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 416 (2007).
- Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 307, 311–313 (1989) (plurality opinion); see also Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 415–416 (1990).
- See Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. ___, No. 14–280, slip op. at 12 (2016) (“If a State may not constitutionally insist that a prisoner remain in jail on federal habeas review, it may not constitutionally insist on the same result in its own postconviction proceedings.”). The Court reasoned as such because new substantive rules constitute wholesale prohibitions on the state’s power to convict or sentence a criminal defendant under certain circumstances, making the underlying conviction or sentence void and providing the state with no authority to leave the underlying judgment in place during collateral review. Id. at 10–11; see also id. at 12 (“A penalty imposed pursuant to an unconstitutional law is no less void because the prisoner’s sentence became final before the law was held unconstitutional. There is no grandfather clause that permits States to enforce punishments the Constitution forbids.”).
- See Montgomery, slip op. at 8 (“[T]he Constitution requires substantive rules to have retroactive effect regardless of when a conviction became final.”)
- Id. at 9.
- See Welch, slip op. at 11; see also Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 353 (2004); Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 330 (1989). Accordingly, the Court has rejected the argument that the underlying “source” of a constitutional rule—i.e., the fact that a constitutional rule on its face creates substantive or procedural rights— can determine the retroactivity of a ruling. See Welch, slip op. at 10 (“[T]his Court has determined whether a new rule is substantive . . . by considering the function of the rule, not its underlying constitutional source.”).
- Sawyer v. Smith, 497 U.S. 227, 242 (1990) (emphasis in original) (internal quotations and citations omitted). For application of these principles, see Montgomery, slip op. at 14–17 (holding that the Court, in interpreting the Eighth Amendment to prohibit mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders, “did announce a new substantive rule” because the prohibition necessarily placed beyond the power of a state a particular punishment with respect to the “vast majority of juvenile offenders”). See also Welch, slip op. at 9–11 (holding that a conviction under a statute that was later found to be void for vagueness is a substantive rule, as the invalidity of the law under the Due Process Clause altered the “range of conduct or class of persons that the law punishes.”); Schriro, 542 U.S. at 352 (holding that the requirement that aggravating factors justifying the death penalty be found by the jury was a new procedural rule that did not apply retroactively).
- The standard that has been applied was enunciated in Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97 (1971). Briefly, the question of retroactivity or prospectivity was to be determined by a balancing of the equities. To be limited to prospectivity, a decision must have established a new principle of law, either by overruling clear past precedent on which reliance has been had or by deciding an issue of first impression whose resolution was not clearly foreshadowed. The courts must look to the prior history of the rule in question, its purpose and effect, and whether retrospective operation will further or retard its operation. Then, the courts must look to see whether a decision to apply retroactively a decision will produce substantial inequitable results. Id. at 106–07. American Trucking Assn’s v. Smith, 496 U.S. 167, 179–86 (1990) (plurality opinion).
- James B. Beam Distilling Co. v. Georgia, 501 U.S. 529 (1991); American Trucking Assn’s, Inc. v. Smith, 496 U.S. 167 (1990).
- The holding described in the text is expressly that of only a two-Justice plurality. 501 U.S. at 534–44 (Justices Souter and Stevens). Justice White, Justice Blackmun, and Justice Scalia (with Justice Marshall joining the latter Justices) concurred, id. at 544, 547, 548 (respectively), but on other, and in the instance of the three latter Justices, and broader justifications. Justices O’Connor and Kennedy and Chief Justice Rehnquist dissented. Id. at 549.
- 501 U.S. at 549 (dissenting opinion of Justices O’Connor and Kennedy and Chief Justice Rehnquist), and id. at 544 (Justice White concurring). See also Smith, 496 U.S. at 171 (plurality opinion of Justices O’Connor, White, Kennedy, and Chief Justice Rehnquist).
- 501 U.S. at 547, 548 (Justices Blackmun, Scalia, and Marshall concurring). In Smith, 496 U.S. at 205, these three Justices had joined the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens arguing that constitutional decisions must be given retroactive effect.
- 509 U.S. 86 (1993).
- 509 U.S. at 97. Although the conditional language in this passage might suggest that the Court was leaving open the possibility that in some cases it might rule purely prospectively, and not even apply its decision to the parties before it, other language belies that possibility. “This rule extends Griffith’s ban against ‘selective application of new rules.’ ” (Citing Griffith, 479 U.S. at 323.) Because Griffith rested in part on the principle that “the nature of judicial review requires that [the Court] adjudicate specific cases,” 479 U.S. at 322, deriving from Article III’s case or controversy requirement for federal courts and forbidding federal courts from acting legislatively, “ ‘the Court has no more constitutional authority in civil cases than in criminal cases to disregard current law or to treat similarly situated litigants differently.’ ” 509 U.S. at 97 (quoting Smith, 496 U.S. at 214 (Justice Stevens dissenting)). The point is made more clearly in Justice Scalia’s concurrence, in which he denounces all forms of nonretroactivity as “the handmaid of judicial activism.” Id. at 105.
- 509 U.S. at 110 (Justice Kennedy, with Justice White, concurring); 113 (Justice O’Connor, with Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting). However, these Justices disagreed in this case about the proper application of Chevron Oil.
- But see Reynoldsville Casket Co. v. Hyde, 514 U.S. 749 (1995) (setting aside a state court refusal to give retroactive effect to a U.S. Supreme Court invalidation of that state’s statute of limitations in certain suits, in an opinion by Justice Breyer, Justice Blackmun’s successor); Ryder v. United States, 515 U.S. 177, 184–85 (1995) (“whatever the continuing validity of Chevron Oil after” Harper and Reynoldsville Casket).