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Suits which are brought to review the propriety of administrative action often present problems which are cast in terms of indispensable parties. In the absence of a statutory procedure for such review it must usually be sought by a suit to restrain or coerce the appropriate individual in the administrative hierarchy. One line of cases holds that in some contexts such a suit is in reality one against the sovereign; or, as it is alternatively put, that the sovereign is an indispensable party. Where the sovereign is indispensable the action must fail because of sovereign immunity. The other difficulty exists only in cases where this first hurdle has been met and concerns the indispensability of a superior officer when a subordinate has originally been sued. A ruling of indispensability here does not foreclose relief altogether, but may mean that plaintiff must come to the seat of government to pursue his challenge and cannot do so where he lives or where his business is located. If the case concerns federal administrative action, a ruling that the superior is indispensable does mean just that.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Indispensability of Government or of Superior Officers in Actions to Review Administrative Determinations, 10 How. L.J. 22 (1964)