Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure limits the territorial jurisdiction of federal district courts to that of the courts of their host states. This limitation is a voluntary rather than obligatory restriction, given district courts' status as courts of the national sovereign. Although there are sound policy reasons for limiting the jurisdictional reach of our federal courts in this manner, the limitation delivers little benefit from a judicial administration or even a fairness perspective, and ultimately costs more to implement than is gained in return. The rule should be amended to provide that district courts have personal jurisdiction over all defendants who have constitutionally sufficient contacts with the United States, leaving a refined venue doctrine to attend to matters relating to the convenience and propriety of litigating a matter in one particular district versus another.
Nationwide Personal Jurisdiction for our Federal CourtsDenver University Law Review
Citation InformationA. Benjamin Spencer, Nationwide Personal Jurisdiction for our Federal Courts, 87 Denv. U. L. Rev. 325 (2009).