Federal Question Jurisdiction

Well-pleaded Complaint Rule and § 1331
  • Under Judiciary Act, now § 1331, federal question must arise out of original cause of action (i.e. be in claim, not in response).
  • If Пs can't bring suit, Δs may not bring defensive action for declaratory relief in federal court either.
  • Allows for determination of jurisdiction based on pleadings
  • Conserves judicial resources.
  • On the other hand...
    • Federal courts are better able to handle questions of federal law, regardless of when they arise.
Louisville & Nat’l RR v. Motley
  • Пs given lifetime pass by Δ after accident. Law passed outlawing passes to curtail corruption. Пs sue Δ fpr breach of K and assert in claim that violates Due Process not to honor passes.
  • SCOTUS decides sua sponte that П;s action does not "arise under."
    • The claim just anticipated a defense.
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