AALS Remedies Symposium, Justice and the Bottom Line: The Continued Vitality of Prophylactic Relief

12 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2007

See all articles by Tracy A. Thomas

Tracy A. Thomas

University of Akron School of Law

Date Written: February 2007


The identification of a separate classification of prophylactic injunctions and the continued judicial use of the remedy in institutional reform cases has developed a line between legitimate and illegitimate relief. The doctrine and theory of prophylaxis provides an alternative narrative by which to evaluate injunctive relief in order to retain valuable and effective judicial remedies. For the dominant discourse rejects prophylactic relief as illegitimate. Critics have disclaimed prophylactic and other public law relief as judicial policymaking through which judges impose obligations beyond the contours of the legal right. Despite this harsh criticism, prophylaxis has continued to thrive as an effective and necessary part of the practical remediation of complex cases. The continued use of prophylactic remedies demands an alternative theory of justification, for the image of an activist, judicial policymaker does not accurately explain the remedial practice. This essay argues against the rejection of all broad injunctive relief, and instead, suggests that the legal construct of the prophylactic injunction provides an alternative language through which jurists and lawyers can navigate the real issues of crafting appropriate relief.

Keywords: injunctions, remedies, constitutional rights, judicial decisionmaking, institutional reform

JEL Classification: K1, K10

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Tracy A., AALS Remedies Symposium, Justice and the Bottom Line: The Continued Vitality of Prophylactic Relief (February 2007). U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=963232 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.963232

Tracy A. Thomas (Contact Author)

University of Akron School of Law ( email )

150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States
330-972-6617 (Phone)
330-258-2343 (Fax)

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