US Supreme Court to Decided Whether Federal Courts have Jurisdiction to Confirm or Vacate Arbitration……

The Supreme Court recently granted cert to address the issue of whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act when the only basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question (Badgerow v. Walters, No. 20-1143).

Prof. Imre Szalai, suspects that the Court, to maintain a robust framework supporting arbitration, will extend the “look-through” approach adopted in Vaden (for motions to compel arbitration) to situations to confirm or vacate an arbitral award.  He tends to view the FAA as a comprehensive, unitary statute, and so the jurisdictional theory from section 4 of the FAA could (and in his opinion should) arguably extend to the confirmation and vacatur of awards under sections 9 and 10.  One contrary argument is that the FAA was never intended to cover the arbitral resolution of federal question/statutory claims, but that ship has long sailed.

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