Sovereignty, Compliance, and the World Trade Organization: Lessons from the History of Supreme Court Review

This article explores the nineteenth-century conflict over Supreme Court review and discusses its implications for today’s debate on the WTO. Congress granted the Court appellate jurisdiction over state courts in one of its earliest pieces of legislation, the Judiciary Act of 1789. The first serious challenge to that jurisdiction occurred about a quarter-century later, however, in connection with the Court’s famous opinion in Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee. The conflict continued episodically for the next four decades, with several states refusing to acknowledge the Court’s jurisdiction in particular cases, and ended only with the Civil War, which resolved this and other questions of American federalism by force.