The Court has Original Jurisdiction, But Not Exclusive O.J., In Arizona Immigration Case
There is this "I went and read the Constitution, and boy was I surprised!" meme running around the Interwebs for the past few days.
It goes like this:
1. Judge Bolton ruled against the State of Arizona
2. But the Constitution says (Article III):
Clause 2. In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party, the Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
3. Therefore, Judge Bolton had no jurisdiction, and the stay is invalid. For example...
The answer: Thanks for playing, but SORRY, you lose. I think Johnny has some FABULOUS prizes for you--on the way out.
Some problems with argument:
A. It was made by some Canadians. And some American Protestants. Like all Prot's, they have this "priesthood of all believers" hangup, where you read the Bible and you know as much as someone who speaks Greek and actually studied what the Bible means. You can't just go reading the thing. Same with the Constitution: the words have been interpreted by a community called the "courts" for 220 years.
B. There are explicit precedents that establish that the lower courts have "concurrent" original jurisdiction. That doesn't mean that the SC does NOT have original jurisdiction. It means that cases can be heard EITHER in the SC or the lower courts. Hard to get on the SC docket. Check this, for example. The simple version...
C. This was not a full-fledged trial, but rather a petition for a stay, pending Supreme Court ruling.
In short, the argument that Judge Bolton had no jurisdiction is simply absurd. It may be a shame that you can't read the Constitution without knowing the huge body of interpretations of its meaning, but you can't. "Discoveries" in the Constitution should always be discounted. Ask a lawyer before you make a fool of yourself.
Some sources: The SC's Original Jurisdiction
Adler in Volokh Consp.
Some precedents, on concurrent original jurisdiction:
Rhode Island v. Massachusetts, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 657 (1838); Bors v. Preston, 111 U.S. 252 (1884); Ames v. Kansas ex rel. Johnston, 111 U.S. 449 (1884).
(Interestingly, such suits could be brought and maintained in state courts as well, if all parties consent, so concurrent jurisdiction is even broader! Plaquemines Tropical Fruit Co. v. Henderson, 170 U.S. 511 (1898); Ohio ex rel. Poporici v. Alger, 280 U.S. 379 (1930).)
(Nod to the Blond, for asking cool questions)