Full Faith and Credit and the Equity Conflict
Posted: 28 Jan 1999
This article examines whether the principles of full faith and credit require states to enforce other states' coercive equitable decrees to the same extent as judgments for money damages. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court held that a state court injunction barring a witness's testimony nationwide is not subject to full faith and credit elsewhere. Baker v. General Motors, 118 S. Ct. 657 (1998). This article suggests that both the Court's opinion and the two concurrences were unsatisfactory because the Court failed to address the key underlying issue of whether or to what extent courts may rely on state law to enjoin extraterritorial conduct. Much of this Article considers historical issues related to the extraterritorial jurisdiction of equity courts. It concludes that the issue will remain difficult to resolve unless some limitation is placed upon the longstanding view that state courts, under the guise of inherent equity power, may impose coercive orders that affect activity outside of that state. The concluding sections of the Article suggest three different approaches to resolution of the equity conflict, highlighting functional views of what the policy of preclusion should mean for the scope and effect of full faith and credit to equity decrees.
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