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100 Nw. U. L. Rev. 585 2006


Federal common law is a puzzle. Despite Erie's declaration that "[t]here is no federal general common law,"' well-established and stable pockets of federal common law persist in several areas: cases affecting the rights and obligations of the United States,2 disputes between states, 3 cases affecting international relations,4 and admiralty.5 If anything, federal common law is expanding. Eighteen years ago, a case in which state law was in "significant conflict" with "uniquely federal interests" provided an occasion for the Supreme Court to create another form of federal common law.6 Five years ago, the Court added yet another piece to the puzzle, holding that the preclusive effect to be given to a judgment in a diversity case was a question of federal common law.7

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