Declaratory Judgment Act

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The Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2202, enabled parties to bring lawsuits in federal court to obtain declaratory relief not otherwise available. It has been particularly useful in patent cases, but is controversial as a basis for federal jurisdiction.

A declaratory judgment is a court order stating certain facts, especially facts that bear upon the legality of a contemplated action. For example, where a person plans to undertake a risky or controversial action, he may seek a declaratory judgment as to its legality.


  • Donald L. Doernberg and Michael B. Mushlin, "The Trojan Horse: How the Declaratory Judgment Act Created a Cause of Action and Expanded Federal Jurisdiction While the Supreme Court Wasn't Looking," 36 UCLA L. Rev. 529 (Feb. 1989)