- The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s famous summary judgment trilogy1 provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the legal profession’s ability to overstate, overhype, and overinflate the impact of Supreme Court decisions. This certainly would seem to be true for predictions concerning summary judgment practice that were issued in the immediate aftermath of the Court’s 1986 decisions in Celotex, Anderson, and Matsushita.
Famously, members of the academy and other legal seers opined that the Supreme Court, in issuing the summary judgment trilogy, was telegraphing a message to federal judges to make enhanced usage of summary judgment to expedite legal proceedings and to intercept and dismiss factually deficient litigation before trial. The not-so-veiled purpose of the summary judgment trilogy, then, was to nudge federal judges out of their normal predisposition against summary judgment. Consequently, a number of procedural wags predicted that federal courts would witness a surge of summary judgment dismissals in the wake of the trilogy.