Federal Courts

Class Unique: 28485
Federal Courts is a course that investigates one of the most exciting, but often subterranean, features of the law: the distribution of power. Doctrines that seem dry at first glance turn out to generate enormous consequences for how the law develops, and often for how our society is structured. The doctrines that shape and limit the power of federal courts can determine whether grave allegations of injustice can be considered in court at all. Those doctrines allocate responsibility among federal judges and the political branches, and among federal courts and the states. Beyond being a fascinating subject for academic study, the law of Federal Courts is an essential, indispensable tool for students who may serve as judicial law clerks and eventually as attorneys who seek to invoke, or to forestall, federal judicial authority. Throughout the class, two key themes will recur: (1) separation of powers, asking how to ensure a proper role for the federal courts vis-à-vis the other branches of the federal government and (2) federalism, asking how to ensure a proper role for the federal courts vis-à-vis state governments. Specific topics include justiciability, subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal courts, the role and jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court, abstention, sovereign immunity, the creation and role of non-Article III courts, suits challenging official action, remedies against governments and governmental actors, and judicial federalism.

Class Details

Meeting Days Time Location
Monday, Wednesday 5:45 - 7:35 pm TNH 2.137
Evaluation Method Date Time Alpha Range Room
Final 5/11/16 8:30 am 2.137

Additional Information

Course Type
Grading Method
Pass/Fail Allowed


  • Hart & Wechsler's The Federal Courts and The Federal System - Fallon et al.
      West/Foundation Press , edition: 7th (2015)
      ISBN: 978-1-60930-427-0   (required)
  • Federal Jurisdiction - Chemerinksy
      Wolters Kluwver/Aspen , edition: 6th
      ISBN: 978-1-4548-0402-4   (required)