Vanderbilt Law Review


Harry Phillips

First Page



Diversity jurisdiction has undergone intensive scrutiny and criticism for many years, with some commentators advocating repeal, and others urging retention. Among the critics of diversity jurisdiction are some of the legal profession's most prominent members. Roscoe Pound, Louis D. Brandeis, and Charles William Eliot were members of a committee that questioned diversity jurisdiction as long ago as 1914, and Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska led the Senate Judiciary Committee in recommending repeal of diversity jurisdiction in 1928. In 1954, Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter, an ardent foe of diversity jurisdiction, referred to "the mounting mischief inflicted on the federal judicial system by the unjustified continuance of diversity jurisdiction," and stated:" What with the increasing permeation of national feeling and the mobility of modern life, little excuse is left for diversity jurisdiction." Justice Robert H. Jackson stated shortly before his death that "in my judgment the greatest contribution that Congress could make to the orderly administration of justice in the United States would be to abolish the jurisdiction of federal courts which is based solely on the ground that the litigants are citizens of different states." In 1969, the American Law Institute recommended substantial curtailment of diversity jurisdiction," and Chief Justice Burger has stated that "diversity jurisdiction is a classic example of continuing a rule of law when the reasons for it have disappeared."' Nevertheless, cases grounded upon diversity of citizenship continue to crowd federal court dockets.