85 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 251
While exercising diversity or supplemental jurisdiction, federal courts often confront cases where the applicable state law is unclear. Certification procedures provide federal courts with the ability to ascertain the meaning of unclear state law by asking the state supreme court. Despite these procedures, federal courts generally will not certify a question to the state supreme court—even when the state law is genuinely unclear—unless they conclude that the question of state law involves important policy choices that state courts are better situated to make. This Note argues that this consideration poses theoretical, practical, and constitutional problems under the Erie doctrine. This Note then proposes a model certification rule under which federal courts’ decision to certify a question does not depend on federal courts’ consideration of a state’s policy interests.
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