File: 03.Spencer (final)
Created on: 4/13/2006 5:10:00 PM
Last Printed: 5/2/2006 10:53:00 AM
Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Revised Analysis
A. Benjamin Spencer†
Personal jurisdiction doctrine as articulated by the Supreme Court is in disarray. As a constitutional doctrine whose contours remain imprecise, the law of personal jurisdiction has generated confusion, unpredictability, and extensive satellite litigation over what should be an uncomplicated preliminary issue. Many commentators have long lamented these defects, making suggestions for how the doctrine could be improved. Although many of these proposals have had much to offer, they generally have failed to articulate (or adequately justify or explain) a simple and sound approach to jurisdiction that the Supreme Court can embrace. This Article revises the law of personal jurisdiction by reconceiving the proper role of due process within the doctrine—which is to ensure that defendants receive adequate notice of an action and are protected against arbitrary assertions of governmental power—and reasserting the role of state sovereignty and interstate federalism as concepts that permit jurisdiction over all disputes in which a state has a legitimate interest. The doctrines of venue and forum non conveniens are left to redress any meaningful burdens on defendants arising out of having to litigate in inconvenient fora. The result is a coherent analysis that will provide litigants and courts clear guidance regarding the scope of a court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate.
New winds are blowing on old doctrines, the critical spirit 1 infiltrates traditional formulas. INTRODUCTION Adjudicatory jurisdiction, which refers to the power of a court to hear a case, is the central and most basic preliminary issue faced by 2 courts in the United States. A court (state or federal) may not enter a binding judgment in resolution of a matter unless it has jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute. Adjudicatory jurisdiction is...