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One Supreme CourtSupremacy, Inferiority, and the Judicial Department of the United States$
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James E. Pfander

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195340334

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195340334.001.0001

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The Supreme Court and the State Courts

The Supreme Court and the State Courts

Chapter:
(p.81) 5 The Supreme Court and the State Courts
Source:
One Supreme Court
Author(s):

JAMES E. PFANDER

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195340334.003.005

This chapter builds on Hamilton's distinction between the state courts' preexisting jurisdiction and their jurisdiction over inherently federal matters in proposing to explain the relationship between the state courts and the federal judiciary. In Hamilton's view, the state courts would enjoy pre-existing jurisdiction over some federal matters that had simply been left to them by Congress. As to inherently federal matters, however, the power of the state courts would depend on some sort of jurisdictional grant or assignment from Congress. As to those specially assigned matters, the state courts would be viewed as inferior Article I tribunals, constituted as such by the assignment of federal jurisdiction. Article I thus supplies Congress with power to make use of the state courts as agents of federal purpose as contemplated in the doctrine of Testa v. Katt. Article I also requires that the state courts remain inferior to the Supreme Court when constituted as tribunals under acts of Congress. The chapter explains that the qualified power of Congress to rely on state courts only as subordinate agents of the Supreme Court helps to resolve a variety of jurisdictional puzzles.

Keywords:   state courts, jurisdiction, federal judiciary, Congressional power, Article I, Hamilton

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