Jurisdiction - History

Jurisdiction  - History

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Jurisdiction (from Latin juris 'law' + dictio 'declaration') is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice, as defined by the kind of case, and the location of the issue (its situs). In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels.

Colloquially it is used to refer to the geographical area to which such authority applies, e.g., the court has jurisdiction over all of Colorado. The legal term refers only to the granted authority, not to a geographical area.

Jurisdiction draws its substance from international law, conflict of laws, constitutional law, and the powers of the executive and legislative branches of government to allocate resources to best serve the needs of society.

Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts

The jurisdiction of the federal courts has been defined by the Constitution, congressional statutes, and decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. Article III provides that the judicial power "shall extend" to nine types of "cases" and "controversies": all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction controversies to which the United States is a party controversies between two or more states controversies between a state and citizens of another state controversies between citizens of different states controversies between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states and controversies between a state or its citizens and foreign states, citizens, or subjects. The Constitution grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors and public ministers and cases in which a state is a party, leaving the remainder of cases within the judicial power to the Court's appellate jurisdiction, with "such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

Article III of the Constitution left for the Congress to determine the distribution of federal jurisdiction within a system of federal courts and between the federal and state courts. The Judiciary Act of 1789 provided for cases to enter a federal court through an original filing, through removal of a case originally filed in state court, and through an appeal from the highest court of a state to the Supreme Court of the United States. Over the past two centuries, Congress has passed numerous statutes redefining the jurisdiction of the federal courts within the limits set by the Constitution. Throughout its history, the Supreme Court in its decisions has established additional rules and doctrines governing federal court jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction: State as a Party

Article III of the Constitution extends the judicial power to "Controversies between two or more States, between a State and Citizens of another State . . ., and between a State . . . and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects," and provides that the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in cases where a state shall be a party. The Judiciary Act of 1789 granted the Supreme Court exclusive original jurisdiction only in suits between two or more states, with the remainder of state party suits left concurrent with other courts. The 1789 statute did not expressly include state party suits in the grant of jurisdiction to the U.S. district or circuit courts, however.

Neither the Constitution nor the 1789 Judiciary Act distinguished between cases in which states were plaintiffs and those in which states were defendants, leading some to believe that states could be sued in federal court. It was not long before federal judges were asked to interpret federal court jurisdiction over suits against states. In the 1791 case of Farquhar v. Georgia , the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Georgia dismissed a suit against the state of Georgia, ruling that the Constitution's grant of jurisdiction over state party suits was exclusive to the Supreme Court. The plaintiff in that case responded by filing an original suit in the Supreme Court. In the 1793 decision in that case, Chisholm v. Georgia , the Supreme Court ruled in a 4-to-1 decision that Article III permitted a common-law suit against a state by a citizen of another state.

State legislatures criticized the Chisholm decision as a threat to their sovereignty and urged Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution to overrule the Court. Congress acted quickly and in March 1794 submitted to the states what became the Eleventh Amendment when it was ratified by the states in 1795. The Eleventh Amendment states that "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State."

In the early nineteenth century, the Supreme Court preserved one method for out-of-state citizens to claim rights against state governments. In the 1824 case of Osborn v. Bank of the United States , the Supreme Court ruled that the Eleventh Amendment barred a suit only when a state was a named defendant-the Court would not look beyond the named parties in a case to question whether a state government was the true object of a suit. This ruling allowed individuals to file equity petitions against state officers as individuals to halt official actions alleged to be illegal or unconstitutional.

In the decades following the Civil War, the Supreme Court embraced a broad interpretation of state sovereign immunity, and in a succession of decisions the Court restricted the ability of individuals to assert in federal courts legal rights against states. Many of the cases arose from attempts by bondholders to prevent states from repudiating debts incurred during Reconstruction. In cases such as Louisiana ex rel. Elliot v. Jumel (1883) and In re Ayers (1887), the Court created an exception to the principle established in Osborn and ruled that a suit in federal court to compel state officers to honor the state's financial obligations was in reality a suit against a state and barred by sovereign immunity. In the 1890 case of Hans v. Louisiana , the Supreme Court further ruled that the Eleventh Amendment barred a suit in federal court by a citizen against his or her own state based upon a federal question. The Court held that even though the amendment did not mention suits between a state and its own citizens, the principle of sovereign immunity was implicit in the Constitution. In 1921, in the case of Ex parte New York , the Supreme Court ruled that state sovereign immunity also extended to admiralty suits, and in 1934 the Supreme Court extended state sovereign immunity to suits by foreign governments.

During the twentieth century, the Supreme Court carved out some exceptions to the broad application of state sovereign immunity. The Court revived the principle of the Osborn decision and ruled in 1908 in Ex parte Young that one could sue for prospective relief, such as an injunction, against a state officer to prevent enforcement of a state law or regulation alleged to be unconstitutional. The Court reasoned that once an officer took action that was void under the Constitution, the officer ceased to represent legitimate state authority and thus was no longer protected by sovereign immunity. In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer that Congress could annul state sovereign immunity as part of its authority to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the Supreme Court recognized the authority of Congress to annul state immunity pursuant to other regulatory powers as well, but in the 1996 case of Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida , the Court ruled that Congress could only annul state immunity in suits related to enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment.

State governments have also periodically entered the federal courts as plaintiffs, usually through original proceedings before the Supreme Court. Suits between states are heard exclusively by the Supreme Court and have frequently involved boundary disputes, water rights, and financial obligations of one state to another. In a small number of cases, state governments have filed suit in the Supreme Court against individuals or corporations to enjoin environmental pollution and other nuisances or to resolve disputes over land titles, though the Supreme Court has accepted jurisdiction in such cases only sparingly.

Further Reading:
Charles Alan Wright and Mary Kay Kane, Law of Federal Courts , 6th Edition (St. Paul, MN: West Group, 2002), Chapter 8.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Federal Jurisdiction , 4th Edition (New York: Aspen Publishers, 2003), Chapter 7.

Lawrence C. Mitchell, "Fighting Words of the Eleventh Amendment," Harvard Law Review 102 (1989): 1342-71.

John V. Orth, The Judicial Power of the United States: The Eleventh Amendment in American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

James E. Pfander, "History and State Suability: An 'Explanatory' Account of the Eleventh Amendment," Cornell Law Review 83 (1997-1998): 1269-1382.

Did you know?

Questions of jurisdiction are generally technical legal matters. The most important ones include which court will hear a given case and which law-enforcement agency can get involved. But although they may seem like mere technicalities, jurisdictional matters sometimes turn out to be all-important in the final outcome. Jurisdiction may depend on where you are (for example, in which state), on who you are (if you're a juvenile, for example, you may only be tried in juvenile court), and on what the subject is (for example, cases involving the estate left by someone who has died are dealt with in probate court).

Jurisdiction - History

SEJ Heritage Center

The SEJ Heritage Center serves as the designated archival repository for the agencies and ministries of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, including Lake Junaluska Assembly.

SEJ Commission on Archives and History

The purpose of The SEJ Commission on Archives and History is to gather, preserve, and make available materials that give evidence of the history of Methodism within the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.

SEJ Historical Society

The SEJ Historical Society of The United Methodist Church promotes interest in the study, preservation, and dissemination of the history and heritage of The United Methodist Church and its antecedents with a focus on Methodism within the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

Committee Jurisdiction

As specified in Rule XXV, 1(c)(1) of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on Armed Services' has the following jurisdiction:

1. Aeronautical and space activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations.

3. Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force, generally.

4. Maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal, including administration, sanitation, and government of the Canal Zone.

5. Military research and development.

6. National security aspects of nuclear energy.

7. Naval petroleum reserves, except those in Alaska.

8. Pay, promotion, retirement, and other benefits and privileges of members of the Armed Forces, including overseas education of civilian and military dependents.

9. Selective service system.

10. Strategic and critical materials necessary for the common defense.

The Senate has also given the committee the authority to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to the common defense policy of the United States, and report thereon from time to time.

Jurisdiction - History

The Church of God in Christ in Kentucky began in the early 19th century after the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, California. It was during these early years that churches were preached out in many of the southern states which included Kentucky. Overseers were appointed to various states on a temporary basis to manage the newly sanctified churches/congregations.

Kentucky First Jurisdiction was organized in 1920 by Overseer R. R. Booker. Overseer Booker until his death in 1942. Overseer Booker was also appointed as Overseer of Missouri and Indiana. In the mid-1920s, there were about 12 churches in Kentucky under his administration.

After the death of Overseer Booker, Overseer Chester Graham was appointed as Overseer of Kentucky and served until his death in 1947. In August 1947, the state was then split into two Dioceses by Bishop Charles H. Mason, the founder of the Church of God in Christ, as Eastern Headquarters (Overseer David A. Reed, Sr.) and Western Headquarters (Overseer A. T. Moore). Each Jurisdiction flourished and by the early 1950s, Western Kentucky was reported to have seventeen churches and Eastern Kentucky ten churches. In the following years, Western Headquarters was renamed Kentucky First Jurisdiction and Eastern Headquarters was renamed Kentucky Second Jurisdiction.

In 1948, Western Kentucky held its first Holy Convocation at Providence Church of God in Christ, Providence, KY where Elder V. J. Horton was the Pastor. During that time, Bishop A. T. Moore appointed Elder Vernon Sanders, Elder V. J. Horton, and Elder J. J. Ware as Superintendents over District 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

Bishop A. T. Moore served as Bishop of Kentucky First for sixty-two years and was proclaimed by the late Presiding Bishop Louis Henry Ford to be the “Living Legend of the Church of God in Christ” worldwide. In 2008, Bishop A. T. Moore received Bishop Emeritus status from the headquarters of the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. Bishop A. T. Moore received rest from his labor on Sunday, February 7, 2010. From 2008 to 2009, General Board Members, Bishop P. A. Brooks and Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, served as Interim Bishops of Kentucky First Jurisdiction. In March 2009, Bishop Dwight L. Haygood, Sr. was appointed Jurisdictional Prelate of Kentucky First Jurisdiction. Bishop Haygood placed a heavy emphasis upon programming for youth, church growth, and ministry training. Bishop Dwight L. Haygood, Sr. went home to be with the Lord on Monday, April 27, 2015.

At the demise of Bishop Dwight L. Haygood, Sr., the General Secretary of the Church of God in Christ, Bishop Joel Harley Lyles, Jr., served as Interim Bishop. In 2016, Bishop John W. Fleming was appointed as Jurisdictional Prelate of Kentucky First Jurisdiction. Bishop Fleming continues to focus on ministry training and development and the growth of the Local Church, District, and Jurisdiction.

  • Mother S. L. Metcalf (unknown – 1961)
  • Mother Jean Wright (1961 – 2005)
  • Mother Bernice Jones (2005 – 2010)
  • Mother Romanetha Stallworth (2010 – Present)

Kentucky First Jurisdiction currently has thirty (30) churches within six (6) Districts in the state of Kentucky.

As we further the legacy of our great leaders, we continue to say, “WE BELIEVE GOD!”

Factsheet: Universal Jurisdiction

The principle of universal jurisdiction allows the national authorities of any state to investigate and prosecute people for serious international crimes even if they were committed in another country. For example, this means that the German government could, if it chose to do so, prosecute U.S. officials for crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Using this principle, CCR has actively pursued a half dozen cases in multiple countries seeking to investigate and prosecute those Bush Administration officials who authorized, designed and implemented the U.S. torture program in absence of the political will to do so at home. Learn more about actions that CCR and our partners have initiated in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.

Universal jurisdiction is based on the notion that some crimes – such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture – are of such exceptional gravity that they affect the fundamental interests of the international community as a whole. Accordingly, there is no condition that the suspect or victim be a citizen of the state exercising universal jurisdiction or that the crime directly harmed the state’s own national interests. The only condition for exercising universal jurisdiction is therefore not – as in traditional doctrines of jurisdiction nationality – location or national interests, but rather the nature of the crime. Recent years have seen a rising number of universal jurisdiction cases filed before national courts in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Africa—this increase in cases can be attributed to a rising interest of the international community to hold accountable those responsible for the worst crimes, including torture.

An environment supporting of the principle of universal jurisdiction was created following the establishment of the ad-hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in 1993 and 1994, respectively, and extended to the establishment of the internationalized courts such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts for Cambodia. The efforts to ensure individual criminal accountability culminated in the establishment of the International Criminal Court on July 1, 2002.

Why Universal Jurisdiction is Necessary: A Brief History

Originally applied to hold pirates and slave traders accountable for their crimes, the principle of universal jurisdiction today extends to all who commit some of the most serious human rights violations. The idea of universal jurisdiction was key in establishing accountability in several post-World War II trials following the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Additionally, the obligation on states to seek out and prosecute those said to be responsible for grave "breaches" of international humanitarian law is a key aspect of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. The principle was codified for torture in the 1984 Torture Convention.

While the courts of the country in which the crime took place would appear to be the preferred jurisdiction to obtain justice for victims of gross human rights violations, there are two central reasons why a system of universal jurisdiction is necessary in many instances:

1) Universal jurisdiction provides victims of international crimes with access to justice.

Courts in the “territorial state” are often inaccessible for victims for a variety of reasons, including the availability of domestic immunities or self-imposed amnesties and de facto impunity and security risks, especially when the crimes were state-sponsored. For instance, a domestic amnesty law in Chile protected former dictator Augusto Pinochet and other government officials in Chile, but the law was not able to stop proceedings filed against him in Spain using the doctrine of universal jurisdiction by victims who managed to escape his dictatorship.

2) Universal jurisdiction bridges the impunity gap.

While in some cases victims may obtain justice through international tribunals and courts or the ICC, these courts are constrained by a mandate that is limited to a specific territorites, conflicts, or time periods. Examples are the two ad-hoc tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda or the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The ICC is limited also in that it can only prosecute crimes committed after July 1, 2002. Additionally, neither the ICC nor the international courts and tribunals have sufficient resources to investigate or prosecute all alleged perpetrators. Indeed, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC indicated there’s a “risk of an impunity gap,” meaning some human rights violators may fall through the legal cracks, unless “national authorities, the international community, and the ICC work together to ensure that all appropriate means for bringing other perpetrators to justice are used.” Similarly, the preamble of the Rome Statute of the ICC expressly provides that it “is the duty of every State to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes” and emphasizes that “the International Criminal Court established under this Statute shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions.”

Universal jurisdiction is therefore an important complement to traditional jurisdictions as well as to international justice mechanisms.

Universal Jurisdiction in Practice

While the increase of universal jurisdiction proceedings is a testament to the fact that universal jurisdiction is no longer a mere legal theory, there are still necessary components to ensure that cases are successful. These include, first and foremost, political will as well as dedicated individuals. An international framework that provides for cooperation and exchange and that guarantees effective and efficient investigation and prosecution is equally important. While the number of States applying the principle in practice is increasing, it still remains low. To be truly universal, the commitment to universal jurisdiction will need to expand to countries outside of the European Union, Latin America, or South Africa.

The ongoing proceedings against former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré in Senegal on the basis of universal jurisdiction and the extradition of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori from Chile to Peru serve as two promising examples for an expansion.


Around the world, four multistakeholder conferences are organized in New Delhi, Paris, Washington D.C. and Rio de Janeiro to physically gather the nascent policy network and discuss how to best address some of the most pressing cross-border legal challenges of the digital 21st century. To help put the issue of jurisdiction on global policy agendas and to reach out to stakeholders, the Secretariat, still consisting of only its founders, is highly present in policy events in 19 countries around the world ranging from the UN over NETmundial to the London Process.

A first larger international meeting of the community takes place in Berlin, Germany, gathering 30 key entities. The deepening of policy discussions results in the creation of Programs on Data & Jurisdiction, Content & Jurisdiction, and Domains & Jurisdiction. The Policy Network increasingly becomes the connective tissue between relevant stakeholders, bridging the policy silos of digital economy, human rights and security.

The community reaches a critical mass of engaged stakeholders. Based on four years of world-wide discussions, “Framing Papers” are developed by the Secretariat for each Program, laying out issues of common concerns in a mutually accepted way. In November, the 1st Global Conference of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network gathers around 200 senior-level stakeholders from over 40 countries in Paris. It is hosted by the Government of France, and institutionally supported by the OECD, the European Commission, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and ICANN. As The Economist reported: “If nothing is done, many who met [at the 1st Global Conference of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network] in Paris worried, the open internet could be a thing of the past within a decade or two. What is needed, they said, is more international co-operation—but not of the old kind.” As an outcome, stakeholders identified concrete "Areas for Cooperation" to help the development of shared policy standards and frameworks for legal interoperability and due process across borders. The 1st Global Conference firmly placed the topic of jurisdiction on the Internet governance agenda, as recommended in the 2014 NETmundial Roadmap for the Future Evolution of Internet Governance Ecosystem.

The 2016 OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy’s Report on Economic and Social Benefits of Internet Openness highlight the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network's multistakeholder process as being exemplary: "The [Principles for Internet Policy Making of the 2011 OECD Council Recommendation] endorse the development of voluntary codes of conduct through multi-stakeholder processes, such as the Internet & Jurisdiction [Policy Network]." At the United Nations IGF 2016, the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network is granted for the first time an "Open Forum", a format traditionally reserved to treaty-based organizations.

In March, the Secretariat is invited to present outcomes to the G7 Cyber Group in Italy. In April, the Secretariat presents outcomes to the G20 Multistakeholder Conference on the Digital Future. The 2017 United Nations Secretary-General's Report "Progress Made in the Implementation of and Follow-up to the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society" recognizes the Global Conference, as ulterior Reports will do in 2017 and 2019. The Secretariat continues to socialize the work of the community around the world in numerous conferences. The Policy Network further grows.

To implement the Roadmap coming out of the 1st Global Conference, Contact Groups with over 60 members from all stakeholder groups are created in the Programs of the organization. They jointly develop “Policy Options”, based on the “Areas of Cooperation” identified in Paris. The I&JPN methodology for multistakeholder policy development and concrete outcomes starts to be born.

In February, the 2nd Global Conference of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network takes place in Ottawa. It is hosted by the Government of Canada and institutionally supported by the OECD, the European Commission, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and ICANN. Based on the “Policy Options” of the Programs of the Policy Network, over 200 senior-level stakeholder from more than 40 countries define common objectives to develop concrete solutions to pressing jurisdictional challenges on the internet and adopt the Ottawa Roadmap. It established for the first time agreed Work Plans with structuring components for each Program of the Policy Network to advance towards policy coherence and joint action. Ahead of the 2nd Global Conference, co-founder of the internet Vint Cerf called in a Financial Times Op-Ed upon stakeholders that "the future of the cross-border internet depends on [its outcomes]". Politico asked "The internet is broken. Can this group fix it?".

The unique coalition of institutional and financial supporters, all leaders for the future of the cross-border internet, gathers for the first time physically in the Supporters Meeting of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and reaffirms their engagement.

To implement the Ottawa Roadmap, the Contact Groups of the Programs of the Policy Network grow to 120 members, and jointly develop “Operational Approaches” with proposals for concrete operational Norms, Criteria and Mechanisms.

The G7 Cyber Group expresses its support for the "continued multi-stakeholder work under the auspices of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network, including most recently the Ottawa Road Map that came out of the 2nd Global Conference on Internet and Jurisdiction held in Ottawa in February 2018". The inaugural 2018 Paris Peace Forum, which gathers over 70 heads of government and international organizations, selects the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network for its contribution to global governance as one of only 40 worldwide initiatives showcased with a dedicated session.

Strengthening the regional engagement of the Policy Network, the Secretariat signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. A first regional conference of the Policy Network takes place.

The 3rd Global Conference of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network takes place in June in Berlin gathering almost 300 senior level key stakeholders from more than 50 countries around the world. It is hosted by the Government of Germany, and institutionally supported by the Council of Europe, European Commission, ICANN, OECD, UN ECLAC, and UNESCO. The Conference discusses the operational Norms, Criteria and Mechanisms and adopts the Berlin Roadmap with precise Work Plans structuring the work of the Programs to develop concrete solutions. Over 140 Members are now part of the Contact Groups. A new format for policy standards is created: I&J Outcome Documents. They are released throughout on an ongoing basis by the Programs’ Members, and foster legal interoperability with operational recommendations for policy makers and practitioners dealing with cross-border data, content and domain issues.

Responding to the urgent call of the community for more policy coherence, the Secretariat launches the world’s first Internet & Jurisdiction Global Status Report at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum during a Special Session. It presents a first-of-its-kind mapping of internet jurisdiction related policy trends, actors and initiatives based on the mutualized knowledge of over 150 key entities from all stakeholder groups and five continents.

The work of stakeholder of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and its function in the ecosystem is increasingly widely recognized. The community now consists of over 400 key entities in over 70 countries around the world. The Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, the basis of the UN Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, references the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network in a chapter on mechanisms for Digital Cooperation”. In its Report on Governance Innovation launched together with the OECD, the Government of Japan references the Policy Network as a key example of a multistakeholder organization working to foster legal interoperability in the digital economy.

The methodology for multistakeholder solutions development in the Programs proves itself further. Based on hundreds of hours of intense work among stakeholders that is facilitated by the Secretariat, the Members of the Policy Network’s Programs release a total of 13 I&J Outcomes implementing the Berlin Roadmap.

Responding to the call of members to further engage stakeholders from the Global South in the Policy Network, the Secretariat organizes regional multistakeholder conferences in Latin America in partnership with United Nations ECLAC, and in Africa in partnership with the African Union Commission. Both events serve also as official consultations for the United Nations Digital Cooperation Roadmap on the future of the digital governance architecture.

Following the Global Status Report, the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network launches the first Regional Status Report for Latin America and the Caribbean in partnership with United Nations ECLAC.

Watch the video: International Law. Jurisdiction of States explained. Lex Animata by Hesham Elrafei