Relations between the Federal and State Courts

By Mitchell Wendell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
RESTRICTIONS ON DIVERSITY JURISDICTION

IN 1928 Felix Frankfurter estimated that about one-third of all cases in the federal courts were there because of a difference in the citizenship of the parties.1 In all fairness, it should be said that not all of these cases represented the same type of danger to the judicial power of the states as that to be found in the Black & White Case. The mere existence of two judicial systems, one state, the other federal -- both of them able to serve the needs of litigants -- would suggest that some cases would find their way into one set of courts while others were, channeled into the competing stream. It is just as reasonable to expect this to happen as it is to expect two stores on opposite sides of the same street carrying similar lines of merchandise to divide the business of a neighborhood between them. In so far as the problem of our rival judiciaries is like that of rival tradesmen, the measure of desirability in the situation is the same -- is there enough business to warrant the maintenance of two separate organizations? If this were the crux of the problem its solution would depend on the proper application of routine principles of public administration, and not on basic considerations of public policy. But judicial service to the community presents problems only slightly akin to those found in the realm of private business. Competition in our economy is deemed useful because it is thought to promote tong range efficiency. On the other hand, competition in law enforcement is bound to produce a confusion in the administration of justice destructive of a desirable uniformity in the application of the law. However, even when due allowance is made for those cases which wandered into the national courts purely by chance,

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1
Frankfurter, Distribution of Judicial Power Between United States and State Courts, 13 Corn. L. Q. 499, 523 ( 1928).

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