- Federal courts have limited jurisdiction.
- Rule 8(a) requires each complaint to state basis of jurisdiction.
- The courts only have the power if Congress allows it.
- Except the Supreme Court, which has powers explicitly allocated to it by the Constitution.
- Disputes arising under federal law, involving ambassadors, about admiralty, the U.S. is a party, between 2 states, between a state and a citizen of another state, diversity, land grants, between foreign state and U.S. citizens.
- Relation to state courts: Most federal court jurisdiction is concurrent with state courts, with the exception of admiralty and other statutorily mandated areas of fed ct’s exclusive jurisdiction.
- Policy behind federal jurisdiction:
- 1. need for uniform interpretation of federal laws
- 2. protect federal government’s right to conduct foreign policy
- 3. protect diverse parties from bias of state courts
- 4. promote interstate commerce
- 5. create a forum that is insulated from political pressure
- Reasons for seeking federal court rather than state:
- Shorter waiting time for trial
- Δ may get a more sympathetic hearing from judge or jury in federal court (depends!)
- Federal judges are more neutral due to lifetime tenure
- More hospitable to claims and arguments based on federal law
- Perceived higher competence of judiciary
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Source of federal jurisdiction: Constitution, §2 of Article III.