Referee Role of the Supreme Court
A distinguishing feature of federalism in the United States is a dual judicial system-national courts and state courts. Numerous types of cases can be brought in either the United States courts or in state courts, and the Congress has enacted a statute allowing these types of cases to be removed from national courts to state courts or vice versa. 1 A second congressional statute assigns exclusive jurisdiction to the U.S. District Court over suits brought by a citizen of one state against a citizen of another state (diversity of citizenship) if the amount in controversy is $50,000 or more. 2
As noted in Chapter 1, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were convinced by experience under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union of the need for a national supreme court which, among other duties, would hear suits by one or more states against one or more states. Section 2 of Article III of the constitution recognizes states as semisovereign units and grants the Supreme Court nonexclusive original (trial) jurisdiction over interstate disputes. Although this jurisdiction cannot be increased, the Congress in 1789 made this jurisdiction exclusive. 3 The court under Section 2 of Article III also has original but not exclusive jurisdiction over other cases in which a state is a party.
The framers recognized that suits between citizens of different states might result in state courts favoring their own citizens, and a neutral appellate tibunal should be available to review such decisions. Furthermore, it was apparent that state legislatures might enact laws discriminating against other states that violate provisions of the U.S. Constitution, and it would be essential to have a supreme national tribunal with authority to adjudicate such cases.
In contrast to congressional establishment of a procedure for implementing the Constitutional Interstate Rendition clause (see Ch. 6), Congress has not enacted a statute governing the invocation of the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction or its procedures.