Law 212 - Federal Courts

Jonathan D. Varat

Jonathan D. Varat

Professor of Law Emeritus
Dean Emeritus
B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1967
J.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1972
UCLA Law faculty since 1976
Course Description:

This course addresses the constitutional and statutory provisions, as well as the judicially-created doctrines, that shape and limit the role that federal courts play in our system of government. It pays particular attention to issues implicating the separation of powers and federalism and to contending visions of the functions federal courts should perform in American society. Selected topics include the nature of the federal judicial function, standing and justiciability doctrines, congressional control of federal court jurisdiction, Supreme Court review of state court decisions, habeas corpus, the relationship between state and federal law, the federal question jurisdiction of the federal district courts, judicial abstention doctrines and the power of federal courts to enjoin state court proceedings, and state sovereign immunity from suit in federal and state courts.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Students will be exposed to, and will participate in examining, some of the most sophisticated analyses offered in Supreme Court opinions and other legally relevant materials from the origins of the Constitution to the present day, all in the context of the most fundamental structural premises of American government. Accordingly, their analytical skills should be enhanced significantly, and their understanding of how the American legal system operates in dividing judicial power between federal and state judicial systems, and in dividing legal authority among the three branches of the national government and between national and state governments at all levels, should be profoundly deepened. An appreciation of the influential power of constitutional history (and varied accounts of that history) in resolving modern and continuing conflicts among different legal actors and entities is also a likely learning outcome. The complexities of parallel federal and state judicial systems for resolving disputes will be explored in detail as well.


Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Jonathan Varat 19S 212 LEC 1 TWR 1:45 PM - 3:00 PM 4.0 No No