The Uncertain Path of Class Action Law
54 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2018 Last revised: 23 Dec 2018
Date Written: December 21, 2018
For the past nine terms the Supreme Court has increased its focus on the law of class actions. In doing so, the Court has revised the law to better accord with a view of the class action as an exception to an idealized picture of litigation. This “exceptional” view of the class action has had a profound impact not only on class action law, but procedural and substantive law in general. However, in the October 2015 term the Court decided three class action cases which support an alternative, “functional” view of the class action, one that does not view the class action as exceptional, but as one of many equally permissible tools to serve the objectives of substantive law. This alternative view has the potential to have a similarly significant impact on the law, but it is not certain whether the Court will further develop this alternative, especially given its most recent class action decisions. This article discusses the development of the “exceptional” view of the class action, the awakening of a “functional” alternative view, and the uncertain path ahead.
Keywords: class action, supreme court, day in court, due process
JEL Classification: K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation