The Preliminary Injunction Standard: Understanding the Public Interest Factor

M Devon Moore*

Under Winter v. NRDC, federal courts considering a preliminary injunction motion look to four factors, including the public interest impact of the injunction. But courts do not agree on what the public interest is and how much it should matter. This Note describes the confusion over the public interest factor and characterizes the post-Winter circuit split as a result of this confusion. By analyzing the case law surrounding the public interest factor, this Note identifies three aspects of a case that consistently implicate the direction and magnitude of this factor: the identity of the parties, the underlying cause of action, and the scope of injunctive relief. By centering the public interest factor on these three aspects, courts and litigants will achieve a unified conception of the public interest factor.

*J.D. Candidate, May 2019, University of Michigan Law School. I am grateful to Professor Maureen Carroll for substantive guidance and suggestions. Thanks also to Arianna Scavetti for inspiration, to Michael Abrams, Kristin Froehle, Emily Minton Mattson, and Chris Pollack for feedback, and to the Michigan Law Review Notes Office for edits.

Download as PDF