It’s About Time

Reconsidering Whether Laches Should Lie Against the Government

Throughout all facets of life, private parties experience deadlines and suffer the consequences if they fail to meet them. The law, too, has various forms of deadlines that preclude parties from filing suits or asserting claims when a certain amount of time has passed. The particular legal deadline known as laches allows the court to dismiss a claim if the filing party’s unreasonably delayed filing unduly prejudices the other party. This Note examines the historical policy thatprecludes parties from raising the defense of laches against the government when it is bringing the suit. This Note discusses the longstanding assumption that the laches defense cannot be asserted against the government while highlighting a growing trend that has begun to question this assumption. In light of Judge Richard Posner’s declarations in United States v. AdministrativeEnterprises, this Note examines possible solutions to the question of whether laches should be asserted against the government. This Note recommends that courts abandon the long held view that the laches defense is inapplicable against the government and permit the defense under certain circumstances.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.