Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics (2007) 7: 174-196. Copyright (c) 2007 Pi Sigma Alpha.
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The Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Congress has sought to exercise this power throughout its history, especially when the courts have issued a decision or series of decisions that are very unpopular. The precise nature of Congress' authority in this area is controversial and scholars have proposed many criteria and theories to delineate the legislative and judicial branches' respective powers. This study, examining the number of times Congress has categorically denied the courts' jurisdiction over a defined set of cases between 1988 and 2004, finds that Congress has denied jurisdiction 166 times. This practice, while currently relatively narrow, could have major implications for the balance of powers between the three branches of the federal government and the vindication of individual rights if allowed to become more prevalent.