The Supreme Court’s “original jurisdiction”

A caller to today’s show read from Article 3, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and, maintained that Judge Vinson’s ruling on Obamacare was unconstitutional because only the Supreme Court could hear the case. So, at the risk of putting everyone to sleep, let me explain the Supreme Court’s “original jurisdiction“.

Pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 1251 there are two types of Supreme Court “original jurisdiction”.  The first is original and exclusive jurisdiction, and, and the second is, original jurisdiction.  Only a case meeting the former definition must be brought initially in the Supreme Court, not the latter.

The only controversies where the Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction involve disputes between states, the most common being disputes over where the border between two states is. 

For any controversy between a state and the United States, although the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction, it is not original and exclusive jurisdiction.  Thus, although these types of disputes must be filed in the federal court system (as opposed to the state court system), they do not have to originate in the Supreme Court.

4 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    I love having a pro bono lawyer on retainer here!


    We get a super lawyer, and the WaPo gets Ezra Klein!  LOL!!

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