Saturday, June 27, 2009

Woolhander and Collins on Two Federal Courts Landmarks

Ann Woolhandler and Michael Collins, University of Virginia Law School, have posted on bepress two articles on the history of federal courts in the United States. The first is The Story of Tarble’s Case: State Habeas and Federal Detention:
This essay addresses the background to and significance of Tarble's Case (1872), in which the Supreme Court concluded that state courts lack the power to issue habeas corpus to challenge the lawfulness of detention by federal officials.
The second is Federal Question Jurisdiction and Justice Holmes:
Smith v. Kansas City Title (1921), and other cases in which a federal ingredient is part of the plaintiff’s well-pleaded state law complaint, are treated as second class citizens for original federal question jurisdiction under §1331. This second class status is partly due to Justice Holmes’s pronouncement that, “A suit arises under the law that creates the cause of action.” This article suggests, however, that cases along the model of Smith were quite familiar to the federal courts historically and may even have been the primary focus of the 1875 federal question statute. Indeed, Holmes’s dissent in Smith was itself something of a novelty, not the majority’s opinion. Holmes’s view may have been the product of his jurisprudential attempts to dispense with the concept of “primary rights.” What is more, Holmes’s own test for jurisdiction may not have represented the simple rule it is now thought to embody.

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