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A Call for the End of the Doctrine of Realignment

36 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2008 Last revised: 10 Nov 2011

Jacob S. Sherkow

New York Law School

Date Written: December 3, 2008


In Indianapolis v. Chase National Bank, 1941, the Supreme Court established the doctrine of realignment, requiring federal courts to examine the issues in dispute and realign each party as plaintiff or defendant if necessary. Due to the complete diversity requirement, realignment gave the federal courts the ability to both create and destroy diversity jurisdiction. Since 1941, the federal courts have struggled to interpret the central holding in Indianapolis, and have created several competing "tests" for realignment. This confusion has made the doctrine of realignment unworkable. Realignment-along with each of the present tests-encourages jurisdictional abuses by forcing the federal courts to examine the merits of jurisdictionally questionable cases. The doctrine also discourages party joinder because parties fear jurisdictionally altering realignment. Rather than focusing on the language of Indianapolis and the current realignment tests, courts wary of improperly aligned pleadings should make use of newer jurisdictional statutes enacted after Indianapolis. In light of realignment's infirmity and the availability of newer, effective legislation, the federal courts should wholly abandon the doctrine of realignment.

Keywords: jurisdiction, diversity, realignment, federal courts, civil procedure, alignment, party alignment, joinder, indianapolis, chase national bank

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19, K4, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Sherkow, Jacob S., A Call for the End of the Doctrine of Realignment (December 3, 2008). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 107, No. 3, p. 525, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Jacob S. Sherkow (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212.431.2355 (Phone)


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