Patrick J. Borchers
The Muddy-Booted, Disingenuous Revolution in Personal Jurisdiction
Response to Michael H. Hoffheimer, The Stealth Revolution in Personal Jurisdiction

When the editors of the Florida Law Review offered me the opportunity to comment on Professor Michael Hoffheimer’s wonderfully insightful article, I almost declined. The reason is that I agree with pretty much everything of substance he says. I agree with him that the dramatic shortening of long-arm jurisdiction is unjustly depriving some plaintiffs of any rational forum in which to file civil cases. I agree with him that the purportedly narrow holdings, unexplained rationales, and avoided, difficult questions leave lower courts and the bar in a quandary over what ought to be an elementary threshold issue in which the rules are relatively clear. I agree with him that the Supreme Court is dissembling when it insists that its holdings in the six personal jurisdiction cases decided in the last seven years are unremarkable applications of existing law. In short, a subject that is a staple of nearly every first year law student’s education, and of great practical import, has become more irrational and confused––a state of affairs which seemed nearly impossible before the Supreme Court in 2011 broke its two-decades-long silence on personal jurisdiction. So, I’m left to pick a nit on the title and then offer a possible explanation for why, as he puts it: “[T]he Court is implementing radical law reform without the hard work of constructing persuasive explanations that ground a new vision of personal jurisdiction in firm constitutional principle and appropriate social policy analysis.”
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