Rockwell Int'l Corp. v. United States

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In Rockwell Int'l Corp. v. United States, 127 S. Ct. 1397 (2007), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, eliminates federal-court jurisdiction over actions under § 3730 of the Act that are based upon the public disclosure of allegations or transactions "unless the action is brought by the Attorney General or the person bringing the action is an original source of the information." § 3730(e)(4)(A). The Court, by a 6-2 majority, held that the qui tam plaintiff in the case, an engineer, was not the original source and thus the federal courts lacked jurisdiction to rule in his favor.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a decision that strongly supports the power of Congress to withdraw jurisdiction from the courts:[1]

Here, however, the issue is not whether casting the creation of a cause of action in jurisdictional terms somehow limits the general grant of jurisdiction under which that cause of action would normally be brought, but rather whether a clear and explicit withdrawal of jurisdiction withdraws jurisdiction. It undoubtedly does so. Just last Term we stated that, "if the Legislature clearly states that a threshold limitation on a statute's scope shall count as jurisdictional, the courts and litigants will be duly instructed and will not be left to wrestle with the issue." Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 515-516, 126 S. Ct. 1235, 163 L. Ed. 2d 1097 (2006) (footnote omitted). Here the jurisdictional nature of the original-source requirement is clear ex visceribus verborum. Indeed, we have already stated that § 3730(e)(4) speaks to "the power of a particular court" as well as "the substantive rights of the parties." Hughes Aircraft Co. v. United States ex rel. Schumer, 520 U.S. 939, 951, 117 S. Ct. 1871, 138 L. Ed. 2d 135 (1997).


  1. 127 S. Ct. at 1405-06 (emphasis added)

See also

Withdrawal of jurisdiction