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Federal Court Jurisdiction

By Greg Bass & Aaron Cooper

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The Constitution establishes the potential scope of federal subject-matter jurisdiction, and Congress defines the actual range of that jurisdiction. The federal question jurisdiction statute (the principal basis of jurisdiction against the federal government) and diversity jurisdiction, supplemental jurisdiction, and removal jurisdiction statutes vest courts with jurisdiction. In very limited circumstances and under the abstention doctrine, courts may exercise discretion to decline jurisdiction.

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