1. Historical Background 3 Cases and Controversy 5



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Federal Courts

Fall 2004





1.Historical Background 3

2.Cases and Controversy 5

a.Introduction: 5

b.The power of judicial review Marbury v. Madison [1803] 5

e.Advisory Opinions 5

ii.Correspondence of the Justices 6

f.Executive/legislative revision: the requirement of finality 6

ii.Secretary of War has final say, not the court: Hayburn’s Case [1792] 6

g.Judicial Revision: 8

h.Feigned Cases: 8

3.Ripeness, Mootness, and Standing 10

c.Standing 10

k.Ripeness: 19

l.Mootness: 22

m.Political Questions 25

4.Review of State Court Decisions by Supreme Court 27

b.Constitutionality of Supreme Court Review of state court decisions: 27

c.No review if just state law: Murdock v. City of Memphis [1875] 28

d.Relation between State and Federal Law 28

iii.Plain statement of adequate and independent state ground: Michigan v. Long [1983] 30

5.Scope of Constitutional Grant of Federal Question Jurisdiction 35

c.Created by federal law: Osborn [1824] 35

d.Bankruptcy: 36

e.Making federal common law: Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills [1957]: 36

6.Congressional control of distribution of judicial power among federal and state courts 39

f.Federal court jurisdiction generally: 41

ii.May control jurisdiction so long as due process clause respected: Battaglia [2nd 1948] [p.346] 42

h.Meaning of all: Art III, sec 2: 42

i.Congressional authority to allocate judicial power to non-Art III courts 42

iv.When non-Art III judges may be used: Northern Pipeline [1982][380]: 44

j.Federal Authority and State Court Jurisdiction 48

v.Power of State Courts to Enter Orders Against Federal Officers 48

vi.Congress may require federal law cases heard in state courts: 49

vii.Non-discriminatory refusal to entertain federal cause of action: Felder [1988] [p.450]: 50

7.11th Amendment: Suits challenging state official action 52

j.Congressional authority to abrogate state immunity: 55

m.1983 suits against state officers and local governments 59

iv.Individual officers, local governments, and states as Defendant in §1983 suit [1084]. 60

q.Common Law Torts and Constitutional Torts 62

r.Official Immunity 64

8.Judicially-Developed Limitations on Federal Court Jurisdiction 66

b.Abstention: 66

c.Definitive state ruling needed so as to avoid federal constitutional question: Pullman abstention [1941] [1186]: 66

e.Burford and Thibodaux Abstention: 67

f.Equitable abstention 68

viii.Threatened rather than pending state proceedings 70


xi.Parallel Proceedings: 73




  1. Historical Background





    1. Art III of the US Constitution provides for federal courts.

      1. Supreme Court is created by Art. III.

      2. Constitution left for Congress to actually decide whether to create inferior federal courts.

    2. Judiciary Act of 1789

      1. Congress took that authority from Art. III and went ahead to create lower courts.

      2. Structure of today’s courts can be traced back to this act.

    3. Circuit and District Courts

      1. Act created these two types of courts. [different now]

      2. Circuit courts staffed by Supreme Court justices “rode” the circuits and district judges who resided in the circuit.

      3. District courts staffed by district judges.

      4. Jurisdiction

        1. Circuit: original and appellate over district court; district: only original jurisdiction.

        2. Diversity jurisdiction

          1. Act conferred diversity jurisdiction (original), exercised concurrently with state courts.

          2. Modern jurisdictional provision conferring this on federal trial courts is 28 USC 1332.

        3. Removal jurisdiction

          1. circuit courts could also hear diversity cases removed from state courts. Permitted when D was an out-of-state citizen, as it is today. Modern statute is 28 USC 1441(b).

        4. Admiralty

          1. exclusive in federal courts.

        5. No general original federal question jurisdiction


          1. not that big of a deal to not have federal question jurisdiction because back in 1789, there were not that many federal rights, so few federal question cases.

    4. Supreme Court jurisdiction

      1. Original jurisdiction: suits between states, suits between states and citizens of other states. Similar to today.

      2. Appellate jurisdiction: Act gave Court appellate jurisdiction over state decisions when right was claimed under federal law and state decision was unfavorable to federal right claimed.

        1. important because Court becomes supreme expositor of federal law

      3. Appellate jurisdiction over circuit courts:

    5. Rules of Decision Act:

      1. Provided that federal courts shall follow laws of states in cases “where they apply”

      2. Basis for Swift v. Tyson and Erie.

    6. Summary of Judiciary Act of 1789:

      1. Created a federal court system: congress took earliest opportunity to do so.

      2. Narrowed jurisdiction than what was authorized by Art. III:

        1. inferior courts given some but not all authorized by Art. III; Congress since has never conferred full scope of constitutionally authorized jurisdiction.

      3. Established categories of suits within federal courts’ jurisdiction: including…

        1. domestic commerce and possible prejudice against out-of-state citizens

        2. foreign commerce and international relations

        3. assertion of federal rights
      4. No general original federal question jurisdiction by this Act


        1. conferred in 1875 by statute.

    7. Civil War changes:

      1. Amendments and Civil Rights Act of 1871

        1. 13th, 14th, 15th amendments created federal rights that had not previously existed; Congress could implement these amendments “by appropriate legislation.”

        2. Civil Rights Act:

          1. Act prohibits anyone acting under color of state law from depriving any person of rights under the Constitution; conferred jurisdiction on inferior federal courts to hear cases brought under the Act.

    8. General Original Federal Question jurisdiction

      1. 1875: Congress conferred general original federal question jurisdiction on the federal circuit courts.

      2. Jurisdiction over cases “arising under” federal law;

      3. First construed to be as broad as “arising under” under Art. III, but had been reduced by judicial construction to its modern dimensions.

      4. 28 USC 1331

    9. Creation of Circuit Courts of Appeals [1891]

    10. Specialized Courts

      1. Territorial

      2. DC courts

      3. Claims court

      4. Etc.





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