Synopsis of Federal Judicial Power

Notes to Table

Indicates cases or controversies in which supreme court could possibly have either appellate or original jurisdiction (but not both) depending on the identities of parties. Original jurisdiction can arise in only six instances: (1) when one of the parties is a foreign official or possibly a member of the official’s retinue; (2) in state v. state cases; or (3) state v. citizens of a second state; (4) state v. foreign state; (5) foreign state v. state; or (6) state v. foreign citizens. And in each case eligible for original jurisdiction, the case must first be filed in the U.S. Supreme Court; if filed in state court the case remains there.

In all other cases not eligible for original jurisdiction, the supreme court jurisdiction is original appellate jurisdiction only; and original appellate jurisdiction only if filed originally in a lower federal court. The reader must keep in mind that supreme court appellate jurisdiction exists only; when the case is appealed from a lower federal court. There is no federal jurisdiction over appeals from cases first filed in state courts.

* Case type: Rows 1-3 are “cases in law and equity” which are civil and criminal; rows 4-5 are “cases”, civil and criminal; rows 6-11 are “controversies” which are civil only; Row 12 cases are “suits in law and equity” over which the federal courts have no jurisdiction.
1. “Cases . . . arising under [the] Constitution” are those coming into being solely and directly from the written law of the Constitution and not any other source or division of law. These are all civil except for treason cases which are constitutionally-defined and therefore arise under the Constitution.
2. “Cases . . . [arising under] the laws of the United States” are those that come into being solely and directly from federal statutes. Can be civil or criminal.
3. “Cases . . . [arising under] treaties” are those that come into being solely and directly from treaties. These are probably mostly, if not entirely civil cases, though one can conceive of a criminal law embodied in a treaty.
4. “Cases affecting” foreign officials include cases arising under any source of law, civil or criminal. “Affecting” is a nebulous term which could sweep in all sorts of parties having a connection to foreign officials, but it probably was meant to cover cases in which a member of foreign official’s retinue is sued or charged.
5. Admiralty and maritime: Must arise from that body of law. Includes both civil and criminal.
6. Controversies to which US a party: these are any sort of “controversy” to which the U.S. is a party and can arise under any source of law, except criminal, as “controversies” are never criminal.
7. State v. state controversies can arise from any non-criminal source of law.
8. State v. citizens of 2nd state can arise from any non-criminal source of law.
9. Citizens of state v. citizens of 2nd state, are so called “diversity cases”, which can arise from any non-criminal source of law.
10. Citizen of state v. citizen of same state (land grant cases only).
11. Controversies can arise from any non-criminal source of law.
12. One state’s citizens v. 2nd state and foreign citizens v. state. The federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear these cases, for they are barred by the 11th Amendment’s restoration of state sovereign immunity against suits in federal court, but not necessarily in state courts. That depends on state law. The cases here are “suits” only; “suits” are not criminal cases.
13. Cases in law and equity arising under Constitution—Treason arises from the Constitution itself, as opposed to federal statute. See Article 3 §3.
14. State v. state: Exclusive federal because neither state would have jurisdiction over the other sovereign state. Here is an instance of state sovereign immunity being waived by the state’s ratification of the Constitution.
15. Suits in law and equity: One state’s citizens v. 2nd state; foreign citizens v. state: Exclusive state, because of state sovereign immunity. See note 12 above.
16. State sovereign immunity bars certain suits against states in federal courts, but not necessarily in state courts.
17. U.S. party cases: Because the clause does not explicitly name a state as a party in these U.S. party cases, there is no federal jurisdiction. However, the Constitution does not permit federal jurisdiction over direct controversies between state and federal governments.
18. State v. state: Here is a clear waiver of state sovereign immunity.
19. State v. citizens of 2nd state: Immunity not applicable because states would never be defendant in theses “diversity” cases.
20. Citizens of state v. citizens of 2nd state: Immunity not applicable. States are not parties to these cases,
21. Citizen of state v. citizen of same state (land grant cases only): Immunity not applicable. States are not parties to these cases, which are brought not by states, but by citizens of the same state over competing state land grants.
22. State v. foreign citizens: Immunity not applicable because states would never be defendants in these cases.
23. The entries in the chart column “Supreme Court Jurisdiction” should not be taken to mean that the supreme court always has the jurisdiction indicated. In the appellate cases, it only has jurisdiction if the action is first filed in the federal court system. In the original cases, it only has jurisdiction if the action is filed first in the supreme court.
24. Cases affecting foreign officials: Supreme court jurisdiction always original in foreign officials’ cases unless filed first in state court.
25. Controversies: State v. state: Supreme court jurisdiction always original and exclusive in state v. state cases.
26. State v. citizens of 2nd state: Supreme court jurisdiction always original in these cases unless filed first in state court.
27. State v. foreign citizens: Supreme court jurisdiction always original in these cases unless filed first in state court.
28. State v. foreign state: Supreme court jurisdiction always original in state v. foreign state cases unless filed first in state court.
29. Foreign state v. state: Supreme court jurisdiction always original in foreign state v. state cases unless filed first in state court.
30. Suits in law and equity: One state’s citizens v. 2nd state; foreign citizens v. state: No federal jurisdiction because state power is exclusive on account of state sovereign immunity. See note 12.
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Published in: on November 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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