Law 792:  Civil Procedure II: Conflict of Laws

The United States governmental system is a complex federalist system with multiple co-sovereigns—fifty co-sovereign states and a co-sovereign federal government.  Not only does this system implicate potential conflicts between state and federal law, but the modern pervasiveness of interstate dealings and affairs also implicates potential conflicts between various states’ laws.  There are also overlaps in the jurisdictional reach of the court systems of each sovereign such that it is often the case that a court will apply the law of another sovereign in resolving a particular dispute, or that court may be bound to give effect to a prior adjudication from a court of a different sovereign.  This course will survey the range of issues implicated in deciding which sovereign’s civil laws apply to a particular transaction or apply to govern resolution of a particular civil dispute.  In other parts of the world, such issues are oftentimes referred to as the subject of “private international law.”  The topics covered include: so-called horizontal choice of law issues in choosing which state’s law applies; constitutional limitations on horizontal choice of law; so-called vertical choice of law issues in choosing whether state or federal law applies to cases litigated in federal court, commonly referred to as Erie doctrine; federal preemption of state law; federal common law; reverse-Erie issues regarding the extent to which state law applies to federal claims litigated in state court; intersystemic recognition and enforcement of judgments; international dimensions of choice of law issues.  This course provides an understanding of the difficult questions involved in determining what “the law” is in a complex governmental system composed of multiple co-equal sovereigns.  A working understanding of the issues covered in this course is useful to all practicing lawyers and particularly for litigators.

Sequence and Prerequisites: None.

Evaluation: Administered Final Examination.

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