Adjudication of Federal Causes of Action in State Court

The first section of this article considers the power of state courts to hear federal cases. Since it is now well established that state courts have the constitutional power to adjudicate federal causes of action if Congress so desires, the significant questions concern the method by which the judiciary is to decipher congressional intent. Although the courts have no difficulty where Congress has explicitly addressed the issue of state court jurisdiction, problems do arise in situations where Congress has remained silent on the question. The first section critically examines the traditional criteria employed by the courts for determining congressional intent in the face of congressional silence and then suggests a substantial alteration in the judiciary’s approach to the matter.

The second section of the article considers the obligation of state courts to hear federal cases. After first evaluating constitutional questions surrounding such an obligation, this section wilI also examine difficult questions involving congressional intent-specifically, the circumstances under which Congress’ silence is intended to permit state courts to avoid hearing federal cases.