Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Revised Analysis
A. Benjamin Spencer
University of Virginia School of Law
University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 73, Spring 2006
Personal jurisdiction doctrine as articulated by the Supreme Court is in disarray. As a constitutional doctrine whose contours remain imprecise, the law of personal jurisdiction has generated confusion, unpredictability, and extensive satellite litigation over what should be an uncomplicated preliminary issue. Many commentators have long lamented these defects, making suggestions for how the doctrine could be improved. Although many of these proposals have had much to offer, they generally have failed to articulate (or adequately justify or explain) a simple and sound approach to jurisdiction that the Supreme Court can embrace. This Article revises the law of personal jurisdiction by reconceiving the proper role of due process within the doctrine - which is to ensure that defendants receive adequate notice of an action and are protected against arbitrary assertions of governmental power - and reasserting the role of state sovereignty and interstate federalism as concepts that permit jurisdiction over all disputes in which a state has a legitimate interest. The doctrines of venue and forum non conveniens are left to redress any meaningful burdens on defendants arising out of having to litigate in inconvenient fora. The result is a coherent analysis that will provide litigants and courts clear guidance regarding the scope of a court's jurisdiction to adjudicate.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 59
Keywords: Personal jurisdiction, adjudicatory jurisdiction, jurisdiction to adjudicate, in personam jurisdiction, choice of law, international shoe, Pennoyer, due process, civil procedure
Date posted: August 18, 2005