JPMorgan Chase Bank v. Traffic Stream (BVI) Infrastructure Ltd., 536 U.S. 88, 9 (2002)

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

Opinion of the Court

stitution. See U. S. Const., Art. III, 2 (federal jurisdiction "extend[s] to . . . Controversies . . . between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects"). "[T]he proponents of the Constitution . . . made it quite clear that the elimination or amelioration of difficulties with credit was the principal reason for having the alienage and diversity jurisdictions, and that it was one of the most important reasons for a federal judiciary." Holt, supra, at 1473. This is how James Wilson put it during the debates at the Pennsylvania ratification convention:

"Let us suppose the case, that a wicked law is made in some one of the states, enabling a debtor to pay his creditor with the fourth, fifth, or sixth part of the real value of the debt, and this creditor, a foreigner, complains to his prince . . . of the injustice that has been done him. . . . Bound by inclination, as well as duty, to redress the wrong his subject sustains . . . [h]e must therefore apply to the United States; the United States must be accountable. 'My subject has received a flagrant injury: do me justice, or I will do myself justice.' If the United States are answerable for the injury, ought they not to possess the means of compelling the faulty state to repair it? They ought; and this is what is done here. For now, if complaint is made in consequence of such injustice, Congress can answer, 'Why did not your subject apply to the General Court . . . ?'" 2 Debates on the Federal Constitution 493 (J. Elliot ed. 1876) (hereinafter Elliot's Debates).

Wilson emphasized that in order to "extend our manufactures and our commerce" there would need to be a "proper security . . . provided for the regular discharge of contracts. This security cannot be obtained, unless we give the power of deciding upon those contracts to the general government." Id., at 492. His concerns were echoed by James Madison: "We well know, sir, that foreigners cannot get justice done


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