Home Judicial Requirements Easy Outline of the Jurisdictional Requirements

Easy Outline of the Jurisdictional Requirements


In order for a court to hear a case, it must have jurisdiction over the matter. Jurisdictional requirements can be complex and vary depending on the type of case. In this article, we will provide an easy outline of the jurisdictional requirements for both federal and state courts.

Federal Court Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, meaning they can only hear certain types of cases. The jurisdictional requirements for federal courts include:

1. Constitutional and Federal Question Jurisdiction

A federal court has jurisdiction when the case involves a question of federal law or the U.S. Constitution. This includes cases involving constitutional rights, federal statutes or regulations, and cases where the United States is a party.

2. Diversity Jurisdiction

A federal court can hear a case if there is complete diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy is over $75,000. Complete diversity means that none of the plaintiffs are from the same state as any of the defendants.

3. Admiralty and Maritime Jurisdiction

A federal court can hear cases involving admiralty and maritime law, such as cases involving piracy, shipping, and maritime contracts.

State Court Jurisdiction

State courts generally have broader jurisdiction than federal courts. The jurisdictional requirements for state courts include:

1. Geographical Jurisdiction

A state court can hear a case if it has geographical jurisdiction over the matter. This means that the court must have authority over the location where the event occurred or where the defendant resides.

2. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

A state court can hear a case if it has subject matter jurisdiction, meaning it has the authority to hear a particular type of case. For example, family law matters, such as divorce and child custody, are heard in state courts.

3. Limited Jurisdiction

Some state courts have limited jurisdiction, meaning they can only hear certain types of cases. For example, traffic court is a limited jurisdiction court that only hears traffic-related cases.


Jurisdictional requirements are a crucial part of the legal system, as they determine which court has the authority to hear a case. Federal courts have limited jurisdiction, and can only hear certain types of cases, while state courts generally have broader jurisdiction. Understanding the jurisdictional requirements for both federal and state courts is important for anyone involved in a legal matter.

When the Sherman Antitrust Act was penned in 1890, the world was different than it was today. Localities were different, state’s regulatory capacities were different, and the affect foreign nationals can have on United States commerce were different. Certainly aided by technology to further integrate the world’s business practices laws have needed to be adjusted over time. However, certain key elements of the Sherman Antitrust Act still remain as the bedrock of the law.

First and foremost, since it is a Federal law it goes to claim supreme jurisdiction, placing it above state laws. It also can be applied to any state or individual within the United States having significant impact on restraining interstate commerce. This goes on to apply to foreign nationals of the United States who may restrain interstate commerce or, more likely since outside the territorial US, foreign commerce by US entities.

These were the original jurisdictional parameters of the Sherman Antitrust Act and have served as excellent guidelines even though it was one of the first original antitrust laws. Within the Sherman Act there is a heavy emphasis on the level of anti-competitiveness being exhibited by a person or company with respect to restraining commerce. It has to be a substantial level of restraint. In many cases this would manifest itself blatantly, as can be seen by historical examples.

A local business advertising for their store across the border in their neighboring state is not a substantial level of restraint; granted it may affect the business of the store it is advertising against, but that is the nature of the free market. Such an action would not violate the Sherman Antitrust Act. Standard Oil’s consolidation of operations and elimination of competitors within their original state, subsequent states across the United States and abroad was found to restrain interstate commerce.

Standard Oil would be one of the first companies to be broken apart by the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the reasons are quite clear. By 1909, Standard Oil accounted for roughly 90% of oil refining in the United States and 85% of the profits. While not necessarily illegal, it drew attention to how Standard Oil could be operating so well.

This is what would end up breaking them apart: the use of secret and semi-secret railroads allowing them to use transit and a cut-rate fare price compared to their competitors, espionage against business competitors, monopolizing price rates along pipe lines, and cutting rates so low that it would force local competitors out of business, to name a few charges. In the Standard Oil example, it becomes quite clear what a substantial interstate market constraint ends up being.

However, as business practices have become more advanced, and certainly businesses have developed more and more niche markets where they may only compete against a few companies nationwide, the courts have expanded the Sherman Antitrust Act. While localities were originally under the purview of state legislature, the Federal courts have now deemed the Sherman Act to apply locally as well expanding the jurisdictional area where the Act can be applied.  In many ways, the Sherman Act now can touch any form of interstate commerce across the United States.