Document Type



This Article examines the Court's treatment of declaratory judgment actions. It demonstrates that the Court's ‘procedural only’ view of the Act frustrates congressional intent and is neither analytically sound nor practical. Part I discusses the general rules governing federal question jurisdiction and the Court's method for dealing with declaratory judgment cases. Part II explores the history and purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and its relationship to federal question jurisdiction. This study demonstrates that the Supreme Court's assumptions about the jurisdictional import of the Declaratory Judgment Act find no support in the legislative history. Further, it shows that the Court's stated approach to subject matter jurisdiction questions in declaratory judgment cases is directly in conflict with Congress's intentions. Part III examines the Court's confused treatment of declaratory judgment cases. It shows that, while professing to allow the Declaratory Judgment Act no jurisdictional effect, the Court has endorsed cases and procedures that permit the Act to expand federal question jurisdiction. Thus, in limited situations the Court has given effect to congressional intent, albeit unintentionally. Part IV shows that the anomaly created by the Court can only be reconciled with congressional intent by giving the Act the full jurisdictional effect Congress clearly contemplated. This solution is contrary to the Court's express position, but is the only way in which the true purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act can be served.