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The First Congress's Understanding of Its Authority Over The Federal Courts' Jurisdiction

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Title: The First Congress's Understanding of Its Authority Over The Federal Courts' Jurisdiction
Author: Casto, William R.
Abstract: This note discusses the historical basis for congressional control of federal court jurisdiction. Professor Casto considers the system of federal courts created by the first Congress, giving special emphasis to the private and public papers of Oliver Ellsworth and William Paterson, the principal drafters of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Casto introduces the leitmotif of the note in the first section, arguing that the historical evidence demonstrates a general acceptance of extensive congressional control over federal court jurisdiction; Casto points out that his view is the traditional view. In section two, Casto discusses the theses of two scholars challenging the traditionally accepted view. Casto rejects both theses, and the remainder of the note explains why. Casto argues the enactment of the Judiciary Act of 1789, notes from the House and Senate debates, and the papers of the individuals who participated in these events, simply cannot be reconciled with a historical thesis that the Constitution requires the federal courts to be vested with the complete judicial power of the United States as defined in the Constitution. Section three provides a detailed analysis of the Judiciary Act itself. In section four, Casto concludes that the pertinent historical evidence indicates that the framers understood the Constitution to grant Congress extensive legislative discretion over the jurisdiction of the federal courts.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10601/1560
Related Resources: Click to follow Hein Online link
Date: 1985

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