I haven’t written too much lately, which will change, but I did want to write a brief post about an article in yesterday’s New York Times that caught my eye. In his Sidebar column, Adam Liptak, who covers the Supreme Court for the Times, wrote about Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which he described as "the most consequential decision of the Supreme Court’s last term." Liptak noted that the decision didn’t receive much attention when it was released, and what attention it did receive was due to its subject matter. Here is my post from last month about Iqbal.
Liptak quoted Thomas Goldstein, the primary author of SCOTUSBlog and an appellate lawyer at Akin Gump, who said that Iqbal is the "most significant Supreme Court decision in a decade for day-to-day litigation in the federal courts[.]"
The decision’s significance is that a plaintiff must now state a "plausible" claim for relief, which the reviewing court must consider in light of its "judicial experience and common sense." Those words may not appear to impose much of a burden, but they mean that a large number of cases that would have survived a motion to dismiss before Iqbal will be dismissed. According to Liptak, the case has been cited more than 500 times in the past two months.
If you’re a plaintiff in federal court, your complaint must be specific and state a claim that is plausible, which can be difficult based on the limited amount of information that is often available when suit is filed. If you’re a defendant in federal court, chances are good that you will rely on Iqbal as support for your motion to dismiss, and that the court will grant your motion.