Document Type



The Federal Courts and Congress: Additional Sources, Alternative Texts, and Altered Aspirations, 86 Georgetown Law Journal 2589 (1998)


This symposium examines the authority of Congress to shape the jurisdictional boundaries and remedial powers of the federal courts and the ability of those courts, in turn, to resist or reject the lines drawn by Congress. The Constitution creates a federal government of three branches, explained as purposefully erecting a system of checks and balances, dependent on separation of powers among the branches of the federal government and on their capacity for, and obligation to, function independently. Yet language within Article III can be read to license Congress to control the jurisdiction of the federal courts in such a broad fashion as to deprive those courts of much of their work or to situate that work in institutions populated by judges who lack Article III attributes of life tenure and salary protection.

The text of Article III both describes a set of specially situated judges and imbues them with authority for federal adjudication. Article III empowers federal judges specifically by protecting their salaries and their tenure in office. Article III also enumerates a series of categories of cases, "in Law and Equity," that Article III courts may (or shall) hear.

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