Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Civil Procedure - Waterstone
Three questions for fall
1. Does any court in the state have the
power to hear this case involving a
2. If the answer is yes, does only a state
court, or only a federal court, or both
have the power to hear this case?
3. What law will apply to this case?
Subject Matter Jurisdiction –
• “The judicial power of the United States,
shall be vested in one supreme Court, and
in such inferior Courts as the Congress
may from time to time ordain and
Article III, Section 1, US Const.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction –
• “The judicial power shall extend to all
Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under
this Constitution, the Laws of the United
States ... to Controversies between two or
more States; - between a State and
Citizens of another State; - between
Citizens of different States … .”
Article III, Section 2, U.S. Const.
Federal Question Jurisdiction
• Statutory basis - 28 U.S.C. s 1331.
“Federal Question. The district courts
shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions arising under the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States.”
• Well pleaded complaint rule – Mottley
– Statutory, not constitutional case
• Statutory basis - 28 U.S.C. s 1332. “Diversity of
citizenship; amount in controversy; costs. (a) The
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the
$75,000, exclusive of interests and costs, and is between
– Citizens of different states
– Citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a foreign state
– Citizens of different States and in which citizens or subject of a
foreign state are additional parties
– A foreign state … as plaintiff and citizens of a State or of
Diversity jurisdiction (cont.)
• Citizen = domicile = physical presence + intent to stay.
– At time that case is initiated (exc. Removal – time of removal)
• Statute interpreted to mean complete diversity.
• Domicile for corporations = state of incorporation +
principal place of business
– Split between nerve center, muscle
• “Alien admitted to the United States for permanent
residence shall be deemed a citizen of the State in which
such alien is domiciled.” Saadeh
• Amount in controversy – generally, what P alleges.
Know aggregation rules.
• Statutory basis – 28 U.S.C. s 1367
– Section A – federal question jurisdiction – part
of same case/controversy (common nucleus
of operative facts); joinder OK.
– Section B – diversity jurisdiction; joinder not
OK if defeats diversity.
– Section C – courts’ discretion
– Section D – savings provision
• Statutory Basis – 28 U.S.C. s 1441
• Need “original jurisdiction”
• Hometown bar in diversity cases; not in
• Procedure – 28 U.S.C. ss 1446 & 1447
– One year limit for diversity cases.
– Constitutionality of 1441(c)?
Subject Matter Jurisdiction – other
• Difference between constitutional
authority and statutory grant.
• Purpose of federal jurisdiction.
• Narrowing of diversity jurisdiction.
• Strategy of choice of state vs. federal
• SMJ can be challenged at any time, even