Back to the Future: The Revival of Pennoyer in Personal Jurisdiction Doctrine and the Demise of International Shoe
34 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019 Last revised: 12 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 29, 2019
Answering the personal jurisdiction question—that is, whether a court has power over a party—has required an ever-evolving analysis since the United States Supreme Court’s 1878 holding in Pennoyer v. Neff that a state’s exercise of jurisdiction must be consistent with due process. Under Pennoyer, the due process analysis centered on the state’s power over people and property, as well as its ability to regulate the status of people and entities operating within its borders. In 1945, in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, the Supreme Court articulated a new standard: due process is satisfied so long as a defendant has “certain minimum contacts” with the state such that the suit “does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.’”
This Article argues that the Supreme Court’s recent decisions have effectively revived Pennoyer’s focus on physical presence and status, at the expense of the fairness and contact considerations set forth in International Shoe, as the bases for asserting personal jurisdiction. Part I details the jurisdictional analysis under both Pennoyer and International Shoe. Part II discusses the evolution of personal jurisdiction doctrine under International Shoe. Part III demonstrates that the Court’s recent decisions have revitalized Pennoyer’s territorially based regime, and consequently diminished the thrust of International Shoe.
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