Law Quarterly

Plausibility Standards and the Limitation of Access to Courts


If there is one thing to be found from the American people’s view of law as embedded in popular culture, it is the common phrase “I’ll sue you”. Most of the time it is taken lightly, and not perceived as a legitimate threat backed by a person prepared to go to court. This is perhaps a reflection of the difficulties in translating abstract justice to the expensive and time-consuming remedies offered by our already backed up judicial system. For the few occasions that we ever need to resort to formal legal action, however, it is always reassuring that there is such a recourse open to us. On the other hand, a judicial system works efficiently when it effectively screens out cases that are trivial. That is what ruling in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly (2007) sought to accomplish, and in Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009) the screening process was made to be even stricter. These two Supreme Court cases are two of the most cited because of the effect they had on procedural law, and we will examine how exactly they did this. (more…)