The Million Dollar Diversity Docket
68 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2022
Date Written: May 17, 2022
What would happen if Congress raised the jurisdictional amount in the diversity jurisdiction statute? Given that it has been almost 25 years since the last increase, we are probably overdue for another one. But to what amount? And with what effect? What would happen if Congress raised the jurisdictional amount from the current $75,000 to $250,000 or, say, $1 million?
Using a novel hand-coded data set of pleadings in 2900 cases, we show that the jurisdictional amount is not a neutral throttle. Instead, different areas of law, different parts of the country, and different litigants are more affected by changes in the jurisdictional amount than others.
Our findings thus provide new guidance for Congress to consider when evaluating proposed changes to the amount threshold. Informed by how increases to the jurisdictional amount affect both the size and composition of the diversity docket, Congress can determine whether proposed increases achieve legislative goals and serve or disserve jurisdictional policy. For scholars, our empirical work provides a new lens into the ongoing debates about the basic functions and functioning of the federal diversity docket.
Keywords: Federal Courts, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Civil Procedure, Access to Justice, Diversity Jurisdiction, Jurisdictional Amount
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