For those of you who are federal/state judicial power junkies, you will love the Supreme Court's May 27 opinion in Haywood v. Drown. The dispute was over whether the New York state legislature could effectively divest New York state courts of jurisdiction to hear 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims brought against state prison officials. The New York Court of Appeals (in a 4-3 vote) upheld the constitutionality of the jurisdictional bar. The Supremes (5-4, usual suspects) reversed, finding the state jurisdictional bar unconstitutional.
Justice Stevens' majority opinion concludes that the state jurisdictional bar is not a "neutral rule of judicial administration" and thus violates the Supremacy Clause. Justice Scalia, by contrast, disagrees with this conclusion, but does so almost in passing. The meat of his far-reaching 37-page dissent is devoted to an incredibly entertaining constitutional analysis of concurrent jurisdiction by state and federal courts. Walking us through the debates by the Founders on the issue, he concludes that the States are free to close their courthouses to any federal claim they want under the Constitution as it was finally adopted. For the afficianados of a good Justice Scalia originalist rant, it's a must read.