Document Type


Publication Date



In this article the author discusses the impact of the 1983 amendments of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to Rule 11. The Article explores the claim that the 1983 amendments had a disproportionate impact upon civil rights cases, thereby violating the norm of procedural neutrality. In Section I, the author argues that one of the central meanings of procedural neutrality is closely related to the argument that procedural rules should be apolitical. In Section II, the author examines what the studies of Rule 11 reveal about the effect of the 1983 version upon civil rights claims. The author then considers, in Section III, whether a demonstration of improper motive is necessary for arguing that a rule is non-neutral and asserts in Section IV that although the 1983 version of Rule 11 had a differential impact on civil rights claims, it was nonetheless neutral because there was justification for its differential application. Finally in Section V, the author explores the questions raised in debates over “neutral constitutional principles” and concludes that when determining the neutrality of a rule, one must consider not only motive but also the status quo or baseline against which deviations from equal impact are measured.