Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a ten-state amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to recognize the mandatory nature of its exclusive jurisdiction to try cases between states, as conferred by the United States Constitution. In this brief, states argue that the Supreme Court’s current approach—observing “permissive” jurisdiction rather than mandatory—denies states their right of access to this forum for the resolution of disputes that cannot be tried anywhere else.
The Constitution and federal statutory law both require the Supreme Court to hear and decide all original interstate disputes. The American people vested the Supreme Court with mandatory jurisdiction over interstate disputes in order to avoid dangerous forms of resolution, such as resorting to fields of battle. Congress cemented the mandatory nature of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction over interstate disputes when they wrote “The Supreme Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies between two or more states” in the United States Code.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Paxton filed an original action with the Supreme Court against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for their failure to follow the Constitution and federal and state law in running their 2020 elections. Nearly half the states in the country rallied behind Texas as either amici or intervenors. Eventually, over dissents by two of the Court’s Justices, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Had the Court held fast to its mandatory jurisdiction—which is what this amicus brief urges it should—the outcome of that suit may have been different.
Read a copy of the amicus brief here.