The Immortality of Equitable Balancing

Volume 96

96 Va. L. Rev. Online 17
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Professor Goldstein argues that courts should not weigh the burden on defendants in deciding whether to enjoin statutory violations. Such an undue hardship defense to a preventive injunction in statutory cases would, he reasons, allow courts to upend the policy choice that the legislature made in enacting the statute. 

Goldstein sees this practice as a threat to legislative policy choices, because he views equitable discretion as giving judges open-ended discretion to reach whatever result makes sense to them.  He shares this premise with Professors Abram Chayes and Zygmunt Plater; Chayes, however, wanted courts to have broad discretion in formulating injunctions in public law cases while Plater, like Goldstein, seeks to deny discretion to allow violations to continue.  Plater wrote over a quarter century ago. Goldstein makes a valuable contribution not only by dealing with subsequently decided cases, but also going back in time to challenge the Supreme Court’s assumption that the courts have allowed an undue hardship defense for many centuries.

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