Declaratory Judgments in Pennsylvania

EDWIN M. BORCHARD, Yale Law School


Pennsylvania was among the first states to enact in 1923 the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act Under it nearly two hundred reported cases, embracing some of the most illuminating opinions in the country and unfortunately, also some of the least defensible have been decided in the various courts of Pennsylvania. It is a little regrettable that the better decisions seem to have been the earlier ones, whereas some of the later decisions mark a retrogression. Among the notable opinions is that of Chief Justice von Moschzisker, speaking for a unanimous court, in Kariher's Petition. This was one of the first decisions in the country on the constitutionality of the declaratory judgment, an issue which never should or would have been seriously raised, had it been understood what a declaratory judgment was. The court concluded that from all points of view the proceeding was completely judicial in character and laid down for the application of the statute certain guiding principles which have been of aid in subsequent cases.