The Story of Klein: The Scope of Congress's Authority to Shape the Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts
Amanda L. Tyler
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law
October 1, 2009
Jackson & Resnik's Federal Courts Stories, 2009
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 494
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 494
Almost 140 years after the Supreme Court handed down the decision, the Civil War-era case of United States v. Klein continues to baffle students and scholars alike. Indeed, as one observer has written, “Klein is sufficiently impenetrable that calling it opaque is a compliment.” But making sense of the decision has taken on new importance. For much of its history, Klein has stood as the only occasion on which the Supreme Court has struck down a limitation on federal court jurisdiction drafted as such by Congress. During the 2007 Supreme Court Term, however, the Court once again resisted an encroachment on its jurisdiction framed in such terms, and thereby invited a new round of debate over what limits govern Congress’s authority to shape the jurisdiction and powers of the judicial branch.
Date posted: January 13, 2010 ; Last revised: March 9, 2010
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