Did Justice Kagan place a “new gloss” on the Court’s personal jurisdiction case law?
Over the past decade, Justice Ginsburg had a lock on most personal jurisdiction cases. The former law professor wrote the majority opinions in Goodyear Dunlop Tires v. Brown (2011), Daimler AG v. Bauman (2014), and BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell (2017). And RBG also wrote the dissent in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro (2011). (The Chief assigned Justice Alito the majority in Bristol Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California (2017)).
Now, that torched has been passed to a fellow law professor. On Thursday, Justice Kagan wrote the majority opinion in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial Dist. It is a joy to read. Part II.A summarizes the past century of personal jurisdiction caselaw in the span of three pages. Truly, masterful work. I expect, and hope, that Dean Kagan becomes the new designated hitter for all CivPro cases. She writes with such clarity and ease. Her opinions can be transplanted to a casebook with minimal editing. Really, she should write the FedCourts opinions as well. Last term, I praised her exegesis of 11th Amendment doctrine in Allen v. Cooper.
But did Kagan merely restate doctrine in Ford, or did she do something more? Justice Alito charges that something else is afoot.
My only quibble is with the new gloss that the Court puts on our case law. Several of our opinions have said that a plaintiff’s claims “‘must arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts'” with the forum. See ante, at 6 (citing cases). The Court parses this phrase “as though we were dealing with language of a statute,” Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U. S. 330, 341 (1979), and because this phrase is cast in the disjunctive, the Court recognizes a new category of cases in which personal jurisdiction is permitted: those in which the claims do not “arise out of ” (i.e., are not caused by) the defendant’s contacts but nevertheless sufficiently “relate to” those contacts in some undefined way, ante, at 8–9.
What exactly did Kagan say?
None of our precedents has suggested that only a strict c
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