[ Souter ]
[ Thomas ]
GRABLE & SONS METAL PRODUCTS, INC.,
PETITIONER v. DARUE ENGINEERING
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
[June 13, 2005]
Justice Thomas, concurring.
The Court faithfully applies our precedents interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1331 to authorize federal-court jurisdiction over some cases in which state law creates the cause of action but requires determination of an issue of federal law, e.g., Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust Co., 255 U.S. 180 (1921); Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804 (1986). In this case, no one has asked us to overrule those precedents and adopt the rule Justice Holmes set forth in American Well Works Co. v. Layne & Bowler Co., 241 U.S. 257 (1916), limiting §1331 jurisdiction to cases in which federal law creates the cause of action pleaded on the face of the plaintiffs complaint. Id., at 260. In an appropriate case, and perhaps with the benefit of better evidence as to the original meaning of §1331s text, I would be willing to consider that course.*<* num="*">
Jurisdictional rules should be clear.
Whatever the virtues of the Smith standard, it is
anything but clear. Ante, at 4 (the standard
calls for a common-sense accommodation of judgment
to [the] kaleidoscopic situations that present a federal
issue, in a selective process which picks the substantial
causes out of the web and lays the other ones aside
Whatever the vices of the
American Well Works rule, it is clear. Moreover,
it accounts for the
*. * This Court has long construed the scope of the statutory grant of federal-question jurisdiction more narrowly than the scope of the constitutional grant of such jurisdiction. See Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 807808 (1986). I assume for present purposes that this distinction is properthat is, that the language of 28 U.S.C. § 1331 [t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States (emphasis added), is narrower than the language of Art. III, §2, cl. 1, of the Constitution, [t]he judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority (emphases added).