Revisiting Rooker-Feldman: Extending the Doctrine to State Court Interlocutory Orders
University of Arkansas - School of Law
July 1, 2009
Florida State University Law Review, Vol. 36, p. 373, 2009
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits lower federal courts from exercising appellate jurisdiction over state court judgments. After decades of confusion, the Supreme Court recently clarified the scope and proper application of the doctrine in two cases, Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and Lance v. Dennis. However, the Court left a key question unanswered: which state court "judgments" trigger the protection of Rooker-Feldman? Does the doctrine prohibit lower federal courts from reviewing only final state court judgments? Or does it also prohibit review of state court interlocutory orders, such as stays, preliminary injunctions, rulings on pretrial motions, and discovery orders? The circuits are split on this issue. This Article examines the evolution and purpose of Rooker-Feldman and concludes that the doctrine should protect all state court judgments, including interlocutory orders. This is the only approach that respects interests vital to the interaction between state and federal courts, including separation of powers, federalism, and parity.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: federal courts, jurisdiction, judgment, appellate review, finality, federalism, separation of powers, parity
Date posted: July 15, 2010