Personal Jurisdiction: A Doctrinal Labyrinth with No Exit
48 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2012 Last revised: 24 May 2013
Date Written: October 1, 2012
The current plethora of doctrines surrounding the law of personal jurisdiction has added more confusion to the law than it has coherence. Among other things, these doctrines confuse the sufficient with the necessary and they elevate the technicalities of doctrine over the fundamental principles at stake. The 2011 Supreme Court’s opinions, Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown and J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro are just two recent examples of that phenomenon.
This article argues that since the decision in International Shoe, which focused more on fundamental principles than it did on the niceties of doctrine, the Supreme Court has moved more steadily toward a technical and specialized approach to personal jurisdiction doctrine that has ended up confusing lower courts and the Supreme Court itself. Thus, by deconstructing the law of personal jurisdiction, and carefully examining over one hundred years of the Court’s jurisprudence as well as lower courts’ confusion, the article suggests to clear the confusion by returning to the principles traceable to International Shoe and Pennoyer and codifying them in a “due-process-style” rule premised on connecting factors and expectations.
Keywords: personal jurisdiction, McIntyre, Nicastro, Goodyear, general jurisdiction, stream of commerce, legal analysis, legal method, Supreme Court, Due Process
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