December 16, 2015 Articles

Ripe for Incorporation: The Seventh Amendment and the Civil Jury Trial

Gonzalez-Oyarzun presents several interesting questions of law, the resolution of which could assist practitioners in day-to-day litigation matters.

By Clayton LaForge

The Seventh Amendment states: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” U.S. Const. amend. VII. It is one of the few remaining provisions in the Bill of Rights that does not apply to the states. See Minneapolis & St. Louis R.R. Co. v. Bombolis, 241 U.S. 211 (1916); see also McDonald v. City of Chi., 561 U.S. 742, 765 (2010), rev’g Nat’l Rifle Ass’n of Am., Inc. v. City of Chi., 567 F.3d 856 (7th Cir. 2009). In selectively incorporating the Second Amendment in 2010, however, the Court noted: “Our governing decisions regarding the . . . Seventh Amendment’s civil jury trial requirement long predate the era of selective incorporation.” McDonald, 561 U.S. at 765 n.13.

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