Federalist Papers Summary 82
The Federalist Essays Summary No 82: Alexander Hamilton May 28, 1788
This paper addresses several questions regarding the relationship between the state courts and the federal courts. The first of these are what is the situation of the state courts in regard to cases which are to be submitted to federal jurisdiction? Is this to be exclusive or are the state courts to possess a concurrent jurisdiction? If concurrent, in what relation will they stand to the national tribunals?
Hamilton states “that the states will retain all pre-existing authorities which may not be exclusively delegated to the federal head”. Therefore state courts will retain the jurisdiction they now have unless it appears to be taken away by one of three modes; where an exclusive authority is granted to the union, or where a particular authority is granted to the union and the exercise of a like authority is prohibited by the states, or where an authority is granted to the union with which a similar authority in the states would be utterly incompatible.
How does one interpret the words in the Constitution The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme court and in such inferior courts as the congress shall from time to time ordain and establish? Hamilton believes it means that the inferior courts are not restricted to courts of the union but include the state courts, thus there is concurrent jurisdiction in cases where states have pre-existing jurisdiction. But they do not have concurrent jurisdiction in cases arising from the new Constitution for that is not part of their original jurisdiction. (I assume this means states cannot decide whether federal laws are constitutional.) But then he concludes the discussion of concurrent authority with this statement “the state courts would have a concurrent jurisdiction in all cases arising under the laws of the union where it was not expressly prohibited”. Of course such a prohibition would come from the federal legislature or federal court system.
The next question is “what relation would subsist between the national and state courts in these instances of concurrent jurisdiction?” The relation involves an appeal from decisions of the state courts to the federal courts. Without this appeal from one to the other, the jurisdiction is not concurrent. He states “the national and state systems are to be regarded as ONE WHOLE”. The courts of the states are auxiliaries to the execution of the laws of the union.
And the last question “could an appeal be made from a state court to the subordinate federal courts”? The answer is yes but that has to be inferred from the words in the Constitution. The words describe the original and appellate jurisdiction of the supreme court but not that of the inferior courts. Whether their authority is original or appellate or both is not declared and is therefore left to the discretion of the legislature which he believes will allow appeals from state courts to federal inferior courts.
Federalist Papers Summary 82 Written by Donald Mellon