The effectiveness of interpleader depends upon the availability of injunctions against other proceedings. There is no congressional authorization of such injunctions for rule interpleader cases. If interpleader were an in rem action, one of the other exceptions to the Anti-Injunction Act might save the day, but the Supreme Court has apparently foreclosed that option. This article examines that three-sided conflict. Part II discusses the problem in greater depth, focusing first on how interpleader functions and why it depends on being “the only game in town.” Part II next addresses the background and interpretation of the Anti-Injunction Act, exploring particularly the Supreme Court's narrow interpretation the Act's provisions and discussing the federalism values that the Act and the Court seek to serve. Finally, Part II reviews interpleader's status as an in personam action. Even in setting out the problem, one can conceive of at least three potential solutions. One might simply acknowledge that injunctions are not available in rule interpleader actions. Alternatively, one might reverse the Supreme Court's view of interpleader as an in personam action, recharacterizing it as in rem to get around the strictures of the Anti-Injunction Act. Finally, one might leave interpleader itself untouched but reinterpret the jurisdiction exception to the Anti-Injunction Act. Unfortunately, each of these solutions comes with an unpalatable price. Part III discusses the price of each solution. Part IV considers whether, despite the costs of each solution, Congress or the Court should adopt any of them or whether there is some other alternative. In fact, there are two alternatives. Recharacterizing interpleader as an in rem proceeding to fit it within the Anti-Injunction Act is possible, though not the best answer because it would require extended judicial effort to refine the courts' jurisdictional treatment of in rem proceedings generally. This approach is anything but simple and easy to implement. The more elegant option is for Congress explicitly to authorize injunctions against state proceedings in rule interpleader actions, and Part IV offers language that does so.
Donald L. Doernberg, What's Wrong with This Picture?: Rule Interpleader, the Anti-Injunction Act, in Personam Jurisdiction, and M.C. Escher, 67 U. Colo. L. Rev. 551 (1996), available at http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/45/.