The Supreme Court today reversed an order compelling arbitration because, the 5-4 Court held, the district court lacked jurisdiction to make the order. The federal Arbitration Act, the majority reminded us, provides no independent basis for federal court jurisdiction; the underlying controversy must furnish the jurisdictional basis. Since the original claim — a state court action by Discover to collect a credit card debt — involved neither diverse parties nor a question of federal law, the district court lacked authority to entertain Discover's motion in federal court to compel arbitration. Vaden v. Discover Bank, No. 07-773 (U.S. Mar. 9, 2009).
The dissent (per Chief Justice Roberts with Justices Alito, Breyer, and Stevens joining him) urged that Discover's federal court motion to compel arbitration invoked federal jurisdiction on the ground that the Federal Deposit Insurance Act completely pre-empted Vaden's state court counterclaims against Discover.