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I am honored to write the foreword to this issue of the University of Richmond Law Review dedicated to "The Federal Courts." The editors have asked me to address the question of the role of the federal judiciary today. No issue is more pressing within federal judicial circles. The Congress has, in the last few years, enacted several jurisdictional statutes, some that expand and others that limit the authority of the federal courts, thereby raising questions about congressional powers over federal jurisdiction. The shape of the appellate structure of the federal courts is now under review pursuant to the congressionally-chartered Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals. The Executive and the Senate have been engaged in struggles over the nomination of individual judges, and the American Bar Association has recently reported its concern about attacks on the independence of the judiciary.
As these recent events and the breadth of materials covered in this volume reflect, the rubric of "The Federal Courts" is broad, encompassing a wide array of topics. Yet even with a capacious umbrella, debate about what should be within federal court domain is ongoing, and, hence, the title of this introduction: Constituting and Changing the Topic.
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