Rationalizing Complete Preemption after Beneficial National Bank v. Anderson: A New Rule, a New Justification

90 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2009

See all articles by Garrick B. Pursley

Garrick B. Pursley

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: 2006


This article provides a thorough account of the complete preemption doctrine. Courts and commentators tend either to accept complete preemption as a strange but inevitable part of the federal jurisdictional landscape or to criticize it as an unjustified departure from an otherwise coherent set of jurisdictional rules. Complete preemption is traditionally conceived of as an exception that allows claims based entirely on state law to be removed to federal court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction where they involve a subject on which Congress has legislated with particular preemptive force. In Beneficial National Bank v. Anderson, the Supreme Court not only addressed complete preemption for the first time in more than a decade, but also changed the doctrine in important ways. Under Anderson, a state-law claim may be removed only if it is preempted by an exclusively federal statutory cause of action.

I begin with a detailed examination of what came before Anderson and reach some perhaps surprising conclusions. I argue that the Supreme Court's canonical complete preemption decisions do not, in fact, create a rule of removal that is different from more familiar jurisdictional principles. I thus argue that Anderson is the first case to apply the 'complete preemption' label to an actually distinct jurisdictional rule. I then argue that the rule of removal created in Anderson is justified because it promotes judicial economy and is consistent with other, more fundamental jurisdictional principles. Finally, in addressing Anderson’s implications for judicial federalism; I conclude that Anderson’s removal rule, and others like it, may in fact promote the basic values that underwrite the system of jurisdictional allocation between state and federal courts.

Keywords: Preemption, Complete Preemption, Federal Courts, Federal Question Jurisdiction, Removal, Beneficial National Bank v. Anderson

Suggested Citation

Pursley, Garrick, Rationalizing Complete Preemption after Beneficial National Bank v. Anderson: A New Rule, a New Justification (2006). Drake Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 2, pp. 101-190, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1472403

Garrick Pursley (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

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