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Anthony J. Bellia

2016

Federal court

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General Law In Federal Court, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Aug 2016

General Law In Federal Court, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia

Anthony J. Bellia

Conventional wisdom maintains that the Supreme Court banished general law from federal courts in 1938 in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins when the Court overruled Swift v. Tyson. The narrative asserts that Swift viewed the common law as a “brooding omnipresence,” and authorized federal courts to disregard state common law in favor of general common law of their own choosing. The narrative continues that Erie constrained such judicial lawmaking by banishing general law from federal courts. Contrary to this account, Swift and Erie represent compatible conceptions of federal judicial power when each decision is understood in historical context. At the …