Originally uploaded at SSRN.


The traditional focus of the course on Federal Courts has been the study of highly abstract principles of separation of powers and federalism. This paper argues that most students are better served by a course that focuses on what lawyers need to know in order to litigate issues regarding the types of disputes federal courts may address and the division of authority between federal and state courts. With that aim in mind, the paper suggests that the course should focus largely on the opportunities and obstacles faced by lawyers seeking to advance federal constitutional or statutory claims in the federal courts and in the state courts, with particular emphasis on section 1983 litigation.