Stays Pending Appeal: Why the Merits Should Not Matter

50 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2015 Last revised: 19 Sep 2015

See all articles by Jill Wieber Lens

Jill Wieber Lens

University of Arkansas - School of Law

Date Written: February 26, 2015

Abstract

In Nken v. Holder, the Supreme Court delineated the standards that should guide a court’s discretion in deciding whether to stay injunctive relief pending appeal. A “critical” factor is whether the stay applicant has made a “strong showing” of her likelihood to succeed on the merits of the appeal. Because of the critical label, it is not surprising to see courts issue long decisions extensively predicting the decision of the appellate court on the merits. To preserve her interest in judicial review, the stay applicant must effectively show that she will win the appeal.

Stays play an important role in appellate judicial review, but have received little academic commentary. This Article is the first to specifically argue against the evaluation of the merits within the decision to stay injunctive relief pending appeal. An evaluation of the merits, and the current emphasis on the factor, is not supported historically, theoretically, or practically. Instead the Court should look to whether a stay is necessary — due to any potentially changing circumstances, harm to the parties, and the public interest, similar to the other three Nken factors. The Article is also the first to argue that courts must explain their decisions on stays. Otherwise, the decisions seem unjustified, inconsistent, and illegitimate.

Keywords: stays pending appeal, merits

Suggested Citation

Lens, Jill Wieber, Stays Pending Appeal: Why the Merits Should Not Matter (February 26, 2015). Florida State University Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2571003 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2571003

Jill Wieber Lens (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas - School of Law ( email )

260 Waterman Hall
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

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