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1) A conflict existed as to whether the federal court could disregard the
common law of a state and substitute "general" law.
2) Pennsylvania's common law and "general" federal law were the choices
3) Pennsylvania law precluded recovery for a trespasser injured while
traveling along a railroad right of way while federal "general" law allowed
for a cause of action in negligence.
4) The defendant railroad argued that the high court of Pennsylvania did not
conflict with the general law and provided no cause of action unless the
injury was the result of willful or wanton conduct. If this is a correct
statement of Pennsylvania law, then no real conflict existed as likely was the
case in Swift.
5) The railroad argued that lex loci delicti should apply.
6) Lex loci delicti is derived from the common law treatment of torts.
7) Justice Brandeis notes that the Warren article re-examined the intent of
the Judiciary Act's drafters and found that they intended merely to clarify
that federal courts should apply state law, including case law.
8) Story and Brandeis read the Judicary Act differently for a number of
reasons. Brandeis had the benefit of witnessing the development of "general"
national law that often bore little resemblance to the state laws from which
it supposedly derived. Also, by his time, Congress had successfully asserted a
fair degree over commercial law via the Commerce Clause. Story lived in a
young country whose Constitutional Convention began out of talks to lower
barriers to trade between the colonies. Nevertheless, the federal government
at that time could not effectively regulate commerce as it could today, given
the contemporary restrictive readings of the Commerce Clause. By establishing
a "general" national commercial law, Story made an end-run around the
shortcomings of federal statutory law, albeit one dangerously distant from the
laws of the states.
9) Current Supreme Court jurisprudence allows for near-comprehensive
regulation of commerce by Congress, since some aspect of nearly all commerce
is arguably interstate.
10) Erie speaks only to substantive law. Federal courts must apply their own
procedural law, just as an Illinois court applying Wyoming law will still
follow Illinois procedural law.
11) The exclusionary rule relies upon the Fourth amendment to the federal
constitution. Federal courts are competent to interpret federal law and this
in no way relies upon the Erie ruling, being derived instead from the courts'
Article III powers.
12) Because the appellate court cannot try the case, it must reverse its
earlier ruling and hold that Pennsylvania law applies. After having done so,
it must remand the case to the district court or possibly the state courts for
further proceedings, possibly including a trial.