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The declaratory judgement, now adopted in thirty-three American states and territories, has demonstrated its value in the speedy and effective determination of numerous controversies involving status, contracts and other written instruments, and property relations. Its utility in the adjudication of conflicting claims between the citizen and the administration, however, a field of litigation to which it is admirably suited, has not been fully appreciated. It is not merely its speed, inexpensiveness, and efficiency which commend the judicial declaration of rights in administrative law, nor yet the fact that it enables disputes to be determined in their incipiency before they have ripened into full-grown destructive battles, and that a decision is obtainable without the prior necessity of a purported violation of law or precarious leap in the dark. It is rather the fact (1) that administrative officials in the performance of their duties or in challenges to the validity of their acts require no coercive remedies or sanctions, but merely a declaration of their legal relations, in order to maintain, or be kept, within the bounds of legality; and (2) that the procedural vehicles by which administrative acts are submitted to judicial review, namely, the extraordinary legal remedies and injunction, have accumulated so vast a cargo of technicalities that the citizen desirous of challenging an administrative power or privilege finds himself frequently engulfed in a procedural bog which bars him from his goal. Nor has the officer under present practiced any effective method of himself raising the issue of legality when challenged, but must await the litigating initiative of his adversary.
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