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States should have broader authority to decline
jurisdiction over federal claims. The normative
considerations supporting this doctrine of "reverse
abstention" have been developed in previous work. But
what of the Constitution? The traditional reading,
reflected in existing precedent, asserts that the Supremacy
Clause, Article III, and perhaps Article I operate together
to create an inflexible obligation for state courts to hear
federal claims. This reading is misguided. The
Supremacy Clause contains no jurisdictional obligation of
its own force, but only gives supreme effect to other validly
enacted federal laws. And no other clause provides the
authority to impose such an obligation on the states.
Suggestions to the contrary are based on an overly
cramped version of originalism that fails to account for the
exigencies of constitutional compromise and ratification.