Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



An answer to the topical inquiry is "A great deal" but full explanation of the general answer to a very big question cannot be attempted in a single article. Instead, attention will be directed primarily to the opinions in three cases decided on the same day by the Supreme Court of the United States. These cases present problems in the segments of conflict of laws dealing with principles of forum non conveniens and full faith to a statute,' jurisdiction over a foreign corporation and a combination of choice of laws rules and judicial recognition of an alimony award. These cases arise from complex problems and illustrate the way in which the Court gradually works out rules constituting a progression or recession from the way in which established principles were formerly applied. The cases show. the limitations necessarily imposed upon any court in deciding only issues actually raised by the record; but they also show that beneath the veil of a new decision may lie a variety of other problems which, in a piece-meal fashion, will sometime be uncovered and decided. The opinions also illustrate the judicial process in choosing between two basic and otherwise accepted legal premises, the application of 'which leads to opposite conclusions. Whichever view one takes, support for it may be found in either the majority or dissenting opinions. Consideration of each of these cases requires some presentation of background although space limitations preclude details. The approaches taken by the Supreme Court in respect to the three divergent problems, especially as related to some cases in other areas, may be taken as indicative of the extent to which freedom of choice of action by a state court under conflict of laws rules is to become limited by principles of constitutional law. In that aspect emphasis may be placed upon the question marks as to other problems which are implicit in the cases.