The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t had much to say about civil litigation’s discovery process since Herbert v. Lando in 1979. The Court’s relative silence certainly hasn’t been due to a lack of disputes. In the full-contact sport that is civil litigation, battles over document access are commonplace. The advent of electronic discovery has intensified those battles, however, while also raising the costs of document retention, search, and production exponentially. Judges are now more likely to become directly involved, and their application of procedural rules promulgated by the Supreme Court can significantly impact a civil action’s ultimate outcome. 

An appeal petition currently pending before the Supreme Court in Actavis Holdco, Inc. v. Connecticut presents an especially egregious misapplication of the discovery rules, one that has broad implications if allowed to stand. The justices should use this opportunity to remind lower courts of their authority to limit, not expand, the scope of discovery.