Recovering the Social Value of Jurisdictional Redundancy

55 Pages Posted: 21 May 2008

Abstract

This essay, written for the Tulane Law Review Symposium on the Problem of Multidistrict Litigation, argues that the focus of proceduralists on centralization as a solution to the problems posed by modern litigation is misplaced. It is time to refocus on the social value of the multiple centers of authority that jurisdictional redundancy permits. This essay presents the case for multi-centered litigation with particular focus on the potential uses of the Multidistrict Litigation Act to realize pluralist values. The descriptive claim put forward by the essay is that jurisdictional redundancy is imbedded in our federalist system and our preference for adversarial adjudication. The normative claim is that judges and scholars should take more seriously the social benefits of pluralism offered by jurisdictional redundancy. In furtherance of this goal, I suggest three factors that judges and policy-makers consider in determining the level of centralization appropriate in a given case: (i) the extent and nature of underlying substantive disagreement; (ii) the costs of inconsistency; and (iii) the role of political power in the litigation. The question judges, legislators and scholars should ask is not only how much pluralism our system of adjudication can tolerate, but also how much uniformity we should expect in a pluralist society.

Keywords: Multidistrict Litigation, Jurisdiction, Federal Courts, Pluralism, Mass Torts

JEL Classification: K41, K40

Suggested Citation

Lahav, Alexandra D., Recovering the Social Value of Jurisdictional Redundancy. Tulane Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1133602

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