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This question is inspired by @ohwilleke response to my previous question.

In his response, ohwilleke highlighted the following point:

Isn't the the Appellate Division in NJ required to uphold the ruling of the Third Circuit in such matters?

It is not.

There can be no conflict on procedural issues between the Third Circuit, which is interpreting federal rules of civil and appellate procedure, and a ruling of a New Jersey court which is interpreting state rules of civil and appellate procedure.

What's the difference between state laws that are subject to federal law & "procedural" issues ("state rules of civil procedure") that apparently are not? At the heart of Coinbase v. Bielski is whether the FAA intended that an appeal divests the district court's jurisdiction of the case. It is not a question of federal "procedure".

If the FAA so intended, what legal right does a state court have to devise a "procedural" rule that is in direct conflict with federal law? A rule that is in violation of federal law is no better than a state law that violates federal law.

Assuming the intent of the FAA was to divest jurisdiction when an appeal is filed, on what basis can a state create a "rule" that gives it jurisdiction? If the state were to create a law that is inconsistent with federal law it would be struck down as illegal. Why does that change because it is a state rule?

I might be missing something basic but something doesn't sound right.

Can someone explain the difference in approach between a rule and a law that is in direct conflict with federal law?

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  • "It is not a question of federal 'procedure.'" Why do you believe this is the case?
    – bdb484
    Mar 21, 2023 at 1:55
  • @bdb484 Because the core reason that an appeal of a denial to compel arbitration divests the district court of jurisdiction revolves around interpreting of the FAA. Coinbase argued that when the FAA provides that a party may file an immediate interlocutory appeal it intended to give the party the right to a stay as a matter of law (see Coinbase v. Bielski). This is not federal procedure, it is federal law. Of interest, the Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on the case tomorrow.
    – S.O.S
    Mar 21, 2023 at 4:23
  • @bdb484 Also, had it been merely a question of federal procedure I highly doubt the Supreme Court would have even accepted the case. Why would the Supreme Court rule on federal procedure? Clearly, the Supreme Court held this revolves around a question of federal law.
    – S.O.S
    Mar 21, 2023 at 4:26
  • I guess I'm surprised to hear the suggestion that the Supreme Court doesn't rule on questions of federal procedure, but also by the suggestion that federal procedure isn't federal law. I don't think I've ever heard anyone make those arguments before.
    – bdb484
    Mar 21, 2023 at 15:30

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The interpretation of state rules of civil procedure is a matter purely for state courts.

Whether a state procedural rule (or even substantive approaches to jurisdiction) violates federal law, including the U.S. Constitution, is a question of federal law, but state courts are still competent to answer such questions that arise in the process of state litigation, subject only to precedent from the Supreme Court of the United States.

I may be starting to just repeat things now, but even if the legal issue you're interested in (the extent to which trial courts are divested of jurisdiction during non-frivilous interlocutory appeals in matters controlled by the FAA) is substantive or jurisdictional rather than procedural, Federal circuits do not bind state courts.

However, the Supreme Court of the United States can provide binding prcedent on federal law that state courts must apply. I could see the reasons in Coinbase being written broadly enough to apply to both state and federal proceedings.

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