A Duke law professor has tracked the number of times the U.S. Supreme Court has based a decision on the need to prevent a metaphorical "opening the floodgates." The answer: 60 times, starting in 1908, with a big uptick in recent years. She has no objection to the "guarding-the-floodgates" decisions aimed at protecting executive branch officials and interpreting statutes to track Congress’s intended purpose. But she told the New York Times that she has concerns about the decisions that are based on judicial self-interest -- the fear that federal courts will be inundated with new cases and judges may have to work too hard to keep up with them:
In real life, floods are bad. But the metaphor of a flood in the context of litigation obscures more than it illuminates. If a legal theory is sound, is it a problem if it produces too much justice?
It turns out that the floodgates metaphor is also prevalent in Michigan's state jurisprudence, appearing almost 150 times in Michigan Supreme Court decisions since 1950, with the most appearances in the last 10 years and in the seventies.
Art: Noah and the Flood, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo, 1509