The Demise of ‘Drive-By Jurisdictional Rulings’

Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, Vol. 105, p. 184, 2011

Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-05

20 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2011 Last revised: 2 Feb 2011

See all articles by Howard Wasserman

Howard Wasserman

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: January 27, 2011

Abstract

This essay analyzes and comments on four decisions from the Supreme Court’s October 2009 Term considering the line and divide between jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional issues. of particular note are Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Mushkin and Morrison v. Nat’l Australia Bank. In these and the other two cases, the Court unanimously rejected a jurisdictional characterization of the challenged legal rule, concluding that the rule either went to the substantive merits of the plaintiff’s claim of right or to ordinary procedure, without limiting the court’s root structural adjudicative authority. These are the latest cases in the justices’ consistent recent effort to eliminate “drive-by jurisdictional rulings,” in which a legal rule is labeled as jurisdictional only through “unrefined” analysis and without rigorous consideration of the label’s meaning or consequence. These four cases illustrate the Court continued, and welcome, retreat from its admitted “profligate” and “less than meticulous” use of the term. Instead, the Court has sought to define and maintain sharp and clean lines between judicial subject-matter jurisdiction and other, non-jurisdictional issues.

Suggested Citation

Wasserman, Howard, The Demise of ‘Drive-By Jurisdictional Rulings’ (January 27, 2011). Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, Vol. 105, p. 184, 2011, Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1749024

Howard Wasserman (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

University Park, DB 2065
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-7482 (Phone)

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