The Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011

(JVCA) also known as the Removal Clarification Act of 2011 was
introduced to the United States Congress by Mr. Johnson of Georgia (as a
representative of himself and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) Texas. It is
considered as the embodiment of some of the most far-reaching package or
collection of revisions to the Judicial Code, even more far-reaching
than then the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990. This bill clarified the
jurisdictional statutes pertaining to the operations of the federal
courts and allows for the identification of the right federal and state
court in which actions may be brought. It’s importance emanated from
the belief by judges to the effect that the current rules put pressure
on them to waste time in determining issues pertaining to jurisdiction
while jeopardizing the adjudication of the predisposing litigation. Its
contents are founded on recommendations that the United States Judicial
Conference made and approved.
Of particular note is that the bill introduces amendments that mainly
deal with removal and venue. The act is a revision of the notoriously
problematic “separate and independent” claim provision in 1441(c),
underlining the removal or eliminations of civil actions including
federal, as well as unrelated state claims (Hellman 7). The new
provision requires remand and severance of claims that are not within
the supplemental or original jurisdiction of the district court so as to
protect the rights of the defendant to remove federal claims and avert
the possibility of constitutional problems perceived by some courts
(House of Representatives 3). In addition, the Act codifies the “rule
of unanimity” created by the judiciary for removal in cases that
involve multiple defendants. It goes ahead to offer thirty days to every
defendant, in which they are supposed to initiate removal, thereby
solving a longstanding conflict present in the lower courts pertaining
to the deadline for removal in instances where different defendants have
been served at varying times (Legislative Digest 3). Moreover, the bill
has Chapter 87 on venue entirely rewritten, ultimately abolishing the
troublesome distinction between the backup venue pertaining to diversity
and the federal question cases. In addition, it eliminates 1392’s
separate provision that deals with local rather than “transitory”
actions. This bill also abrogates the decision by the Supreme Court in
Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335 (1960) through the authorization of
venue transfer to districts in which the action was not initially
brought, subject to the consent of all the parties. In the only
provision that affects the original jurisdiction, the bill narrows the
resident-alien proviso that is encompassed in 1332 (a). This is aimed at
averting the possibility of interpretive, as well as constitutional
problems emanating from the current language added in an amendment made
to the Judicial Code in 1988.
While the bill had immense effects on the judiciary, the Committee on
Judiciary did not hold any hearing with regard to H.R. 394. This means
that the Judiciary Committee did not devote a formal process for the
assessment of the bill. Instead, the bill was assessed by the
Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO), which examined
its provisions and its newly-developed revisions with the help of the
Judicial Conference’s Federal State Jurisdiction Committee, as well as
interested stakeholders and academics (House of Representatives 4).
These stakeholders included Lawyers for Civil Justice (‘‘LCJ’’),
American Bar Association (‘‘ABA’’), U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
Federal Bar Association (‘‘FBA’’) and the American Association
for Justice (‘‘AAJ’’). The amendments got the support of
numerous law scholars. The exercise was aimed at identifying and
eliminating provisions that advocacy groups and prominent legal experts
deemed controversial. Indeed, the informal vetting process operated in a
manner tantamount to a markup or hearing and enhanced the possibility of
its adoption by both houses.
Nevertheless, the bill was passed by the House by voice vote. However,
its final passage was delayed by the necessity for the resolution of a
conflict between the bill and the “Holmes Group Fix”, which has been
made law as a component of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA),
signed by the president in September. AIA had incorporated a new section
1454 to chapter 89 that authority for the elimination of state-court
actions that involve copyright and patent claims. A new section 1454
(later changed to 1455 by a Senate Amendment) was added to H.R 394
specifying the steps and procedures that would be followed in the
elimination of criminal cases.
The bill was finally signed into law by President Barrack Obama on
December 7th 2011 and was bound to take effect as at 6th January 2012
(Hellman 1). Like the enactment and the passing of any other bills, the
passing of Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of
2011 (JVCA) was not spared the political theatrics with different
political parties holding different ideas on the same. This is
irrespective of the fact that the bill was not particularly taken
through the two-thirds vote in the Senate, thanks to the immense
pressure that the Senate had with regard to other bills. In essence, the
influence of political parties may have been drastically reduced.
Steps used in the generation of the report
The report was derived from the Online Library of the Congress. At the
top of the page, there is a search bar on which one can key in the
search term “Bills 2012” and press the search button. This will lead
to the page where the bills are indexed and arranged in the descending
order from H.R 1 to H.Res. 292.
Works cited
Legislative Digest. H.R. 394. Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue
Clarification Act of 2011. Legislative Digest, 2011 Web retrieved from
HYPERLINK “http://www.gop.gov/bill/112/1/hr394”
http://www.gop.gov/bill/112/1/hr394
Hellman, Arthur. The Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification
Act is Now Law. Jurist, 2011 web retrieved from HYPERLINK
“http://jurist.org/forum/2011/12/arthur-hellman-jvca.php”
http://jurist.org/forum/2011/12/arthur-hellman-jvca.php
House of Representatives. Federal Courts Jurisdiction And Venue
Clarification Act Of 2011. 2011, retrieved from HYPERLINK
“http://www.congress-summary.com/B-112th-Congress/House_Bills_112th_Cong
ress_A.html#HR0366″
http://www.congress-summary.com/B-112th-Congress/House_Bills_112th_Congr
ess_A.html#HR0366 (House of Representatives )
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