FEDERAL COURTS Prof. Burnham
Winter Term 2001-2001 Office 3400
Tel: (313) 577-3928 (O); (734) 663-1240 (H)
SYLLABUS AND READING ASSIGNMENTS
Text and Materials The text is Erwin Chemerinsky, Federal Jurisdiction, 3d ed. (Aspen Law & Business 1999) and various handout cases and other materials. Since Chemerinsky is a hornbook, there is no recommended hornbook. However, for a different point of view and for some things not covered in Chemerinsky, you may wish to consult Charles A. Wright, Federal Courts, 5th ed. (West 1994).
Purposes and Aims of this Course This is largely a course on the procedural aspects of constitutional and other federal question litigation in the federal courts. It covers the procedural law of jurisdiction and other limits applicable to suits in federal court for redress for illegal governmental actions, the procedural implications of the relationship between state and federal courts as it relates to obtaining such redress and procedure by which the federal courts develop and apply federal common law. Little attention is devoted to the substance of federal constitutional and other rights involved. The merits of such claims are the domain of the courses in constitutional law, employment discrimination and other subject-matter areas where Congress has created federal civil rights. This course deals with the procedures for getting to the merits of those claims. As such, this course is an immensely practical one and an essential supplement to your constitutional law courses. Unfortunately, however, most of the law involved is rather complicated.
This course is not for everyone. However, you need this course if (1) you will be clerking for a federal judge, (2) you plan to represent either plaintiffs or defendants in civil rights actions or in constitutional litigation or (3) you have chosen to practice in a field of law that is largely federal. Even if you have no such practical reasons for taking this course, you will find it interesting if you have an interest in the kinds of separation of powers and federalism issues that were raised and discussed in your Constitutional Law I course. In addition, if you didn’t quite "get" some of the issues in first-year Civil Procedure, such as the nature of federal court jurisdiction, full faith and credit, res judicata, and the relationship between state and federal courts and what law is applied in them, this course should serve to clarify some of that.
Teaching Methodology We will be reading some cases, but most of the reading will be from the Chemerinsky book. It is unusual to have a hornbook as the principal text for a course. I decided use it after teaching the course for many years from a casebook. I noticed that I spent the bulk of class time clarifying what the relevant legal rules were from the cases we read and, consequently, there was little class time left to work on applying those rules and doctrines. Chemerinsky explains the doctrine well and outlines what the criticisms of it have been. Using Chemerinsky should free us up to spend time actively using the rules and doctrine, as lawyers are called on to do.
Class time, then, will be devoted primarily to two activities: (1) going over those parts of the doctrine that remain unclear after reading Chemerinsky and any handout cases and (2) discussing problems. The problems are designed principally to give you a working knowledge of the applicable law by forcing you to apply it to real-world fact situations that arise in the practice of civil rights and constitutional litigators. In addition, these applications of doctrine generally raise further issues about the limits of and difficulties with the doctrines being applied. Since the problems in the course are in the process of development, you will be receiving them in installments throughout the course.
Class Participation and Attendance From the above it is clear that class participation and class attendance are very important. In addition, class participation can result in raising (but not lowering) your grade by one step, e.g. B+ to A-. It will be used when you are on the borderline and your exam performance is substantially below what I would expect based on the quality of your comments in class.
Getting Help Early misunderstandings about the material in this course have a way of snow-balling if they are not cleared up early. You are welcome to call me either at the office or at home (see numbers above) with any questions you have, or come see me in my office. However, to allow me to respond to your questions without your having to track me down, you may wish to e-mail me through my Web Page. This way you can submit questions at any time. I will then answer them and post the question and my answer on my Web Page (I will not post the name of the questioner).
What’s In this Packet Immediately following these introductory comments is a topical outline of the entire course. Following that is a Daily Assignment Sheet. This will be added to as we progress. Because most of class time will be taken up by discussion of the problems, the dates on the Assignment Sheet are necessarily approximate. Following the Daily Assignment Sheet is the first installment of the Handout Supplement (HOSupp) and the Problems, which are referred to in the Daily Assignment Sheet.
TOPICAL OUTLINE OF THE FEDERAL COURTS COURSE
Suits in Federal Court to Redress Illegal State Action
State Sovereign Immunity and the 11th Amendment
Origins and General Doctrine
State Law Claims and the 11th Amendment
Consent and Abrogation
Federal Claims in State Court
Constitutionally Required Remedies in State Court
Other Immunities from Liability
Claims for State Violations of Federal Rights
"Under Color of State Law" and Exhaustion
Scope of Claims
Preclusive Effects of State and Federal Judgments
Basic and Intersystemic Preclusion Law
Preclusion and Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction
Abstention and Exhaustion
The Rule of Non-Exhaustion for §1983
The Anti-Injunction Acts and Younger Abstention
Colorado River Abstention
Federal Habeas Corpus
The Custody Requirement
Exhaustion of State Remedies
Preclusion by State Adjudication
Scope of the Writ
Division of Labor Between Habeas and §1983
Supreme Court Appellate Review of State Court Decisions
Power and Scope of Review
Adequate and Independent State Ground
Law Applied in State and Federal Courts
State Law in Federal Courts
Federal Law in State Courts
Federal Common Law
Common Law to Protect Federal Interests
Common Law to Effectuate Congressional Intent
Rights of Action in Federal Court
Implied Rights of Action
Enforcing Statutory Rights
Enforcing Constitutional Rights
Statutory Rights of Action Against the US Government
Separation of Powers
Congressional Power to Confer Jurisdiction
Statutory Jurisdictional Limits
Article III Jurisdictional Limits
Congressional Power to Limit Jurisdiction
Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
District Court Jurisdiction