Craig Green

Document Type



Erie R.R. v. Tompkins is an iconic case in American law, and it has held that status for a very long time. One byproduct of such longevity is that the decision’s meaning and context have changed dramatically through the ages. Indeed, the sheer variability of Erie’s interpretations helps to explain why the decision has remained such an important, controversial, and influential feature of American legal thought for eighty years. This essay offers a brief and schematic account of Erie’s intellectual history, while also offering cautionary signals about Erie’s most recent group of interpreters. Even for observers who might endorse Erie’s new and ongoing expansions, appreciation for the decision’s dynamic intellectual history is indispensable for charting Erie’s future applications, theories, and limits.