This Article challenges the unquestioned assumption of all contemporary scholars of federal jurisdiction that section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized Supreme Court appellate review of state criminal prosecutions. Section 25 has long been thought to be one of the most important provisions of the most important jurisdictional statute enacted by Congress. The Judiciary Act of 1789 gave concrete institutional shape to a federal judiciary only incompletely defined by Article III. And section 25 supplied a key piece of the structural relationship between the previously existing state court systems and the new federal court system that Congress constructed with the Act. It provided for Supreme Court appellate review of certain state court decisions denying the federal-law-based rights of certain litigants.
Kevin C. Walsh, In the Beginning There Was None: Supreme Court Review of State Criminal Prosecutions, 90 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1867 (2015).