General jurisdiction allows a state to assert jurisdiction over a defendant for any claim, even one having no relationship to events or parties in the state. Consent is one basis for general jurisdiction. Because of the Supreme Court’s recent constrictions of specific and general jurisdiction, plaintiffs are increasingly turning to general jurisdiction based on an out-of-state corporation consenting to jurisdiction by registering to do business in the state. There are several categories of cases in which a plaintiff may find such jurisdiction useful. But an unlimited form of such general jurisdiction is both bad jurisdictional policy and poses constitutional problems. A state may impose a waiver of constitutional rights as a consequence of some voluntary action, such as doing business within the state, but it may do so only to support a state interest that has a nexus to the defendant’s activity and is proportionate to the burden imposed. In some cases, the forum asserting such jurisdiction will have an interest. When the plaintiff is local to the forum, for example, the state would have an interest in providing a forum in order to benefit its citizen. But in other cases, the state lacks an interest sufficient to demand that the defendant consent to jurisdiction. In cases where the litigation is unconnected to any state interest, the state exceeds its powers by asserting jurisdiction via this extracted consent.
Jeffrey L. Rensberger,
Consent to Jurisdiction Based on Registering to Do Business: A Limited Role for General Jurisdiction,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol58/iss2/3