A Critique of Jurisdictionality

23 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2020 Last revised: 7 Jul 2020

Date Written: February 6, 2020


Over the last two decades, and culminating in a quartet of cases decided in the last two Terms, the Supreme Court has erected a framework for determining when a rule is “jurisdictional.” The framework is important because questions of jurisdictionality routinely come up in federal litigation. Pressing the virtues of simplicity and clarity in jurisdictional rules to avoid the costs of mistaken assumptions of jurisdiction, the framework deploys clear-statement rules and formalistic, rule-based tests in an effort to be, in the Court’s words, “easy to apply” and “readily administrable.” In this article, I expose the weaknesses of the Court’s framework and show that the framework is neither administrable nor easy to apply, creates incoherence, and relies on shaky internal foundations. I then propose a series of fixes to the Court’s framework.

Keywords: jurisdictionality, jurisdiction, hamer

Suggested Citation

Dodson, Scott, A Critique of Jurisdictionality (February 6, 2020). 39 Review of Litigation 355 (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3533550

Scott Dodson (Contact Author)

UC Hastings Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
415-581-8959 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uchastings.edu/faculty/dodson/index.php

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