Rulemaking in the Age of Twombly and Iqbal

46 U.C. Davis Law Review 1483 (2013)

U of Houston Law Center No. 2016-A-24

76 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2012 Last revised: 20 Aug 2018

See all articles by Lonny Hoffman

Lonny Hoffman

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: August 1, 2012


In this article I am essentially trying to answer one critical question: Faced with the controversy triggered by the Supreme Court’s decisions in Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009), particularly over access to the courts, why have judicial rulemakers not proposed rule reforms to address the concerns raised? This question is particularly puzzling when one realizes that over the last seventy-five years the rules committees have consistently rejected proposals to stiffen pleading requirements along lines similar to what the Court decreed in Twombly and Iqbal. It is as if Congress had repeatedly voted against amending a statute that had been on the books for years only to have the Court through judicial interpretation effectively rewrite the law as though it had been amended. While we reasonably might predict that at least some in Congress would call for a legislative response if this happened, five years after Twombly no proposals for rule reform have been forthcoming and there is no momentum on the rules committees in favor of reform. Why? In this paper I argue that uncovering what has kept rulemakers from acting in the past permits us to interrogate whether those reasons can justify the same course in the future. Ultimately, I conclude that the justifications of the past are no longer sufficient and that the case for immediate rule reform is strong. Beyond its immediate relevance to the unresolved pleading problem, the added perspective gained by examination of the rulemakers’ deliberations can also deepen our understanding of the rulemaking process generally, providing new insights about how the process of making new rules and evaluating existing ones may be improved.

Keywords: Twombly, Iqbal, Rulemaking, Advisory Committees, Practice and Procedure

JEL Classification: K00, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Lonny, Rulemaking in the Age of Twombly and Iqbal (August 1, 2012). 46 U.C. Davis Law Review 1483 (2013) ; U of Houston Law Center No. 2016-A-24. Available at SSRN: or

Lonny Hoffman (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States
713-743-5206 (Phone)

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