A Barrier to Child Welfare Reform: TheSupreme Court’s Flexible Approach toFederal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5)and Granting Relief to States inInstitutional Reform Litigation

Citation data:

Seattle University Law Review, Vol: 36, Issue: 3, Page: 1527

Publication Year:
2013
Usage 476
Downloads 382
Abstract Views 94
Repository URL:
https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/sulr/vol36/iss3/17
Author(s):
Dunnington, Rachel
Tags:
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5); Consent Decree; Children; Child Welfare; State Government; Civil Litigation; Administrative Law; Civil Law; Civil Procedure; Family Law; Juvenile Law; Law; Litigation; State and Local Government Law
article description
In a recent decision, Horne v. Flores, the Court demanded a broader and more flexible application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (Rule) 60(b)(5). In doing so, the Court opened the door for states to seek relief from court-enforced agreements like consent decrees. This decision undermines the use of institutional reform litigation as a means of fixing the child welfare system and thus deals a further blow to the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. This Note will discuss Horne’s impact on consent decrees stemming from institutional reform litigation in child welfare. Part II will explore the history of Rule 60 as it applies to final judgments, and specifically consent decrees. Additionally, Part II discusses the Supreme Court’s application of Rule 60(b)(5) in Horne. Part III will critique the Court’s decision for providing a more flexible standard that weighs federalism concerns above the merits of the case. Part IV discusses the importance of consent decrees in child welfare and proposes suggestions for their ongoing use to be effective. Finally, Part V provides a brief conclusion.