Discretion to Refuse Jurisdiction of Actions for Declaratory Judgments

EDWIN M. BORCHARD, Yale Law School


Several distinguished insurance lawyers have in recent years charged that the federal courts, in a few insurance cases, had erroneously declined to assume jurisdiction of declaratory actions, notwithstanding the presence of the jurisdictional facts. It is their view that the jurisdiction is mandatory. The latest of such complaints is embodied in an article of Mr. E. Morrison, "Federal Declaratory Actions and Casualty Insurance," published in the University of Kansas City Law Review for June 1941. The grievance is directed particularly at the cases of Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Quarles and American Automobile Ins. Co. v. Freulld of which I believe were correctly decided-and the supposedly harmful influence exerted Morrison seems convinced reason of the decision of the Supreme Court in Maryland Casualty Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co. and Joe Orteca.