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The Story of Klein: The Scope of Congress's Authority to Shape the Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts

Posted: 13 Jan 2010 Last revised: 9 Mar 2010

Amanda L. Tyler

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2009

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Tyler, Amanda L., The Story of Klein: The Scope of Congress's Authority to Shape the Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts (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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1535453

Amanda L. Tyler (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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