The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 provides that a private person who claims a violation of the act may sue "in an appropriate court of [a] State" so long as "the laws or rules of court of [the] State" permit the suit. 47 U.S.C. §§ 227(b)(3) & (c)(5). May the person also bring her TCPA action in federal court on the ground that her claim falls within "federal question" jurisdiction?
Yes, the Supreme Court held last week. Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, LLC, No. 10-1195 (U.S. Jan. 18, 2012).
Nothing in the text, structure, purpose, or legislative history of the TCPA calls for displacement of the federal-question jurisdiction U. S. district courts ordinarily have under 28 U. S. C. §1331. In the absence of direction from Congress stronger than any Arrow has advanced, we apply the familiar default rule: Federal courts have § 1331 jurisdiction over claims that arise under federal law. Because federal law gives rise to the claim for relief Mims has stated and specifies the substantive rules of decision, the Eleventh Circuit erred in dismissing Mims’s case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Id., slip op. at 17-18.