JPMorgan Chase Bank v. Traffic Stream (BVI) Infrastructure Ltd., 536 U.S. 88, 3 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 88 (2002)

Syllabus

company as a citizen or subject of this ultimate political authority. Pp. 92-94.

(c) Whether, as the Second Circuit posits, the relationship between the United Kingdom and its territories is too attenuated for that state to be viewed as a governing authority for 1332(a)(2) purposes depends upon the statute's objective. The state courts' penchant before and after the Revolution to disrupt international relations and discourage foreign investment led directly to the alienage jurisdiction provided by Article III of the Constitution. The First Congress granted federal courts such jurisdiction, and the statute was amended in 1875 to track Article III's language. The similarity of 1332(a)(2) to Article III thus bespeaks a shared purpose. The relationship between the BVI's powers over corporations and the sources of those powers in Crown and Parliament places the United Kingdom well within the range of concern that Article III and 1332(a)(2) address. It exercises ultimate authority over the BVI's statutory law and responsibility for the BVI's external relations. Pp. 94-97.

(d) Two flaws defeat Traffic Stream's alternative argument that, because the United Kingdom does not recognize BVI residents as citizens or subjects, and because corporations are legally nothing more than a collection of shareholders residing in the corporation's jurisdiction, Traffic Stream is not a citizen or subject under the alienage diversity statute. First, its outdated notion that corporate citizenship derives from natural persons has long since been replaced by the conception of corporations as independent legal entities. Second, it fails to recognize that jurisdictional analysis under United States law is not governed by United Kingdom law. Traffic Stream's status under United Kingdom law does not disqualify it from being a citizen or subject under the domestic statute at issue. Section 1332(a)(2) has no room for the suggestion that members of a polity, under a sovereign's authority, do not qualify as "subjects" merely because they enjoy fewer rights than other members do. Because Traffic Stream concedes that BVI citizens are "nationals" of the United Kingdom, it is immaterial that United Kingdom law may provide different rights of abode for individuals in the territories. Pp. 97-99.

251 F. 3d 334, reversed.

Souter, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Sarah L. Reid argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the briefs were Joseph N. Froehlich and Edward H. Tillinghast III.

89

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