Personal Jurisdiction: The Walls Blocking an Appeal to Rationality

22 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2018

Date Written: November 28, 2018


Personal jurisdiction is a gateway to the judicial system. Without it, a plaintiff cannot vindicate her claims and the community cannot benefit from private enforcement of the law. After a 21-year hiatus from the field, the Supreme Court decided six personal jurisdiction cases between 2011 and 2017. Scholars have criticized the Court's constriction of personal jurisdiction in this "new era." In a forthcoming article, Professor Adam Steinman urges an interesting tack in an effort to expand forum availability. He would import "remedial rationality" into the equation, asking whether there is a "rational basis" for a court to hear a given case. He identifies three fact patterns in which his approach could remedy the current sclerotic state of jurisdiction: the "home state," "safety net," and "aggregation" scenarios.

This piece responds to Professor Steinman's proposal, and concludes that the appeal to rationality is tantamount to an appeal to the reasonableness analysis which is part of the International Shoe test. The appeal seems doomed by the Court's efforts, including efforts in the new era, to subjugate the assessment of reasonableness to the assessment of whether defendant forged a volitional tie with the forum.

Keywords: personal jurisdiction, access to justice, international shoe

JEL Classification: K10, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Freer, Richard D., Personal Jurisdiction: The Walls Blocking an Appeal to Rationality (November 28, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Richard D. Freer (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
(404) 727-6838 (Phone)
(404) 727-6820 (Fax)

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