Statutory Violations and Equitable Discretion

Zygmunt J.B. Plater, Boston College Law School


This article examines the role of equitable discretion in the modern statutory context. It begins in Part I with a proposition that can be as unsettling to trained legal minds as it is self-evident to those without the benefit of a legal education: that a court has no discretion or authority to exercise equitable powers so as to permit violations of statutes to continue. Part II explores the traditional forms of equitable discretion as they exist in the classic common law context. In Part III, the Article demonstrates how separating equitable balancing into its three components permits conventional notions about the scope equitable discretion to be reconciled with modern statutory imperatives. Finally, Part IV analyzes the consequences of equitable deference to statutory mandates.