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The Trojan Horse: How the Declaratory Judgment Act Created a Cause of Action and Expanded Federal Jurisdiction While the Supreme Court Wasn't Looking


Donald L. Doernberg


Pace University - School of Law

Michael B. Mushlin


Pace University - School of Law


UCLA Law Review, Vol. 36, No. 3, 1989

Abstract:     
The Supreme Court's efforts to define the contours of federal question jurisdiction in declaratory judgment cases have not been coherent. The Court has interpreted the federal Declaratory Judgment Act to be procedural only, and therefore without jurisdictional effect. The result is that parties seeking a declaratory judgment may present a well-pleaded, substantial federal question in their complaints only to be thrown out on jurisdictional grounds. This article demonstrates that the Court's procedural-only view of the Act frustrates congressional intent and is neither analytically sound nor practical. The Court's assumptions about the jurisdictional import of the Act find no support in the legislative history, rendering the Court's approach to declaratory judgment cases in direct conflict with Congress's intentions. The solution is to give the Act the full jurisdictional import that Congress intended it to have.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 68

Keywords: declaratory judgment, federal question jurisdiction

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Date posted: May 27, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Doernberg, Donald L. and Mushlin, Michael B., The Trojan Horse: How the Declaratory Judgment Act Created a Cause of Action and Expanded Federal Jurisdiction While the Supreme Court Wasn't Looking. UCLA Law Review, Vol. 36, No. 3, 1989. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1136327

Contact Information

Donald L. Doernberg (Contact Author)
Pace University - School of Law ( email )
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603-3796
United States
914-422-4368 (Phone)
914-422-4168 (Fax)
Michael B. Mushlin
Pace University - School of Law ( email )
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States
914 422-4258 (Phone)
914 422-4168 (Fax)
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