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The Supreme Court has given the jurisdiction-junkies among us two new precedents to mull over: Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown and J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro. Goodyear and McIntyre address some of the classic foundational questions in personal jurisdiction, but fail to answer others and possibly even raise some new ones. Among the classics, the Supreme Court revisited the familiar question whether state lines form the boundaries of different sovereignties in some important way, or whether they are simply proxies for physical distance and therefore indicative of party inconvenience. On this matter, the position that the Court took—boundaries are important as a matter of principle—does not come as a surprise. Despite previous suggestions that distance and inconvenience are relevant in determining personal jurisdiction, the Court emphasized that boundaries have no inherent relationship with convenience. This is as it should be: anyone who has driven across Rhode Island would be hard-pressed to think of states per se as proxies for either distance or convenience.
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