Several months ago, the world became obsessed with a dress. Depending on the angle from which you looked at it and, more importantly, how your eyes perceived certain colors, the dress appeared white and gold . . . or blue and black. Tens of millions of people viewed and debated it, and nearly everyone who saw it as white and gold (or blue and black) could not begin to imagine how someone else could perceive it in such a radically different way.
In a recent article, Litigation Isolationism, Pamela Bookman identifies a phenomenon that similarly changes hue depending on one’s perspective or disposition. Bookman argues that four doctrines (personal jurisdiction, forum non conveniens, abstention comity, and the presumption against extraterritoriality) conspire to make U.S. courts significantly less hospitable to transnational litigation. In Bookman’s assessment, such isolationism is counterproductive because the doctrines often fail to vindicate their stated goals of respecting the separation of powers, international comity, and defendants’ interests. The article is crisp and elegant. It synthesizes disparate areas of law to elucidate a broader development in civil litigation. And it makes an important contribution to a growing literature on how the United States, once a magnet for transnational litigation, has increasingly closed its doors to such cases. [...]