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The Federal Courts as a Franchise: Rethinking the Justifications for Federal Question Jurisdiction

Gil Seinfeld

University of Michigan Law School

July 17, 2008

California Law Review, 2009

This article develops a model of the federal courts as a kind of franchising arrangement - a chain of dispute resolution forums with a set of basic characteristics held in common across branches, regardless of the location in which any particular branch sits. It argues, in particular, that federal court practice - in sharp contrast to practice in scattered state courts - is characterized by a high measure of procedural homogeneity, a standardized culture marked by a strong ethic of professionalism, and a bench that exhibits generally high levels of competence in the stuff of judge-craft.

The article urges reorienting our thinking about federal question jurisdiction around the Franchise model and discourages continued reliance on the conventional view - that federal judges are more likely than their state court counterparts to provide evenhanded, uniform, expert adjudication of federal law - to justify the conferral of general federal question jurisdiction on the lower federal courts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 66

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Date posted: July 18, 2008 ; Last revised: January 13, 2009

Suggested Citation

Seinfeld, Gil, The Federal Courts as a Franchise: Rethinking the Justifications for Federal Question Jurisdiction (July 17, 2008). California Law Review, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1162329

Contact Information

Gil Seinfeld (Contact Author)
University of Michigan Law School ( email )
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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