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These are cases and matters that can be heard by the federal courts because they involve the federal Constitution, acts of Congress, or treaties.


In the early days of our Republic, Congress was content to leave the task of interpreting and applying federal laws in the first instance to the state courts; with one short-lived exception, [Congress granted original federal question jurisdiction briefly in the Midnight Judges Act, ch. 4, § 11, 2 Stat. 92 (1801), which was repealed in 1802, Act of Mar. 8, 1802, ch. 8, § 1, 2 Stat. 132.] Congress did not grant the inferior federal courts original jurisdiction over cases arising under federal law until 1875. Judiciary Act of 1875, ch. 137, § 1, 18 Stat. 470. The reasons Congress found it necessary to add this jurisdiction to the district courts are well known. First, Congress recognized 'the importance, and even necessity, of uniformity of decisions throughout the whole United States, upon all subjects within the purview of the constitution.' Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 1 Wheat. at 347-348 (Story, J.) (emphasis in original). See also Comment, Federal Preemption, Removal Jurisdiction, and the Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule, 51 U.Chi.L.Rev. 634, 636 (1984) (hereinafter Comment); ...

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