Monday, March 09, 2009

Vaden v. Discover Bank (Supreme Court - March 9, 2009)

I very rarely post about United States Supreme Court cases, on the theory that they already receive a massive amount of attention and don't need much more from me.

But I thought I'd make an exception -- albeit a brief one -- for this case. Because (1) it's a civil procedure case, and (2) on an arcane jurisdictional point, and hence probably won't get much play from anyone other than us (pathethic) civil procedure professors. And also because it's got a neat little makeup. Indeed, as far as I can tell, this is the only 5-4 opinion -- ever -- by Justice Ginsberg that attracted the following makeup of judicial supporters: Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas. Talk about an eclectic mix!

For what it's worth, I agree with the five-member rat pack led by Justice Ginsberg as opposed to the equally crazy group led by Chief Justice Roberts (and joined by Justices Stevens, Breyer, and Alito) in dissent. Yes, the majority's view may seem a little artificial. But it flows naturally from the fact that we don't allow federal jurisdiction over federal defenses or counterclaims. Yes, that's a little bit silly, but it's the law. Both here -- in the arbitration context -- as well as elsewhere.

So let's hear it for the Ginsberg-Scalia-Kennedy-Souter-Thomas party. Something that I doubt we shall ever see again.