Declaratory Judgments

EDWIN M. BORCHARD, Yale Law School


It is now twenty years since the modern movement for the adoption of the declaratory judgment in this country began to take active form. This, then, is an appropriate time to take our bearings and survey the present position. Perhaps our first question ought to be, what has the reform accomplished? Merely to enable the courts to render a judgment without coercive decree hardly seems a fundamental advance. The court merely declares the law, and issues no formal command. But behind that mild innovation, there has opened up a wide panorama of expanding service from the courts, of new legal interests taken under judicial protection, of changes in the temper of adjudication. The cases and the advances may be divided into three groups.