Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Legal Studies | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


This paper examines the conditions under which Congress passes jurisdiction-granting legislation, legislation that expands the discretion of the federal district courts by designating them as venues in which policy questions are to be heard. This project extends existing research that has demonstrated that Congress manipulates the parameters of jurisdiction by examining the manner in which Congress routinely engages in this activity. I construct and evaluate a comprehensive dataset of laws in which Congress grants jurisdiction to the district courts for the period between 1949 and 2000 with the goal of explaining conditions under which Congress grants jurisdiction Two explanations are considered: higher levels of legislative capacity of Congress and the ideological distance between Congress, the district courts, administrative agencies. The results demonstrate that both legislative capacity and ideological distance are important to understanding the passage of jurisdiction-granting legislation.