Justia Summary

Badgerow initiated an arbitration proceeding, alleging that her employment was unlawfully terminated. After arbitrators dismissed Badgerow’s claims, she filed suit in Louisiana state court to vacate the arbitral award. Walters removed the case and applied to confirm the award. Badgerow then moved to remand the case to state court, arguing that the federal court lacked jurisdiction to resolve the parties’ requests to vacate or confirm the award under Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) Sections 10 and 9. Normally, a court has federal-question jurisdiction whenever federal law authorizes an action but the FAA does not itself support federal jurisdiction. A federal court must find an independent basis for jurisdiction to resolve an arbitral dispute. In this case, neither application revealed a jurisdictional basis on its face. The district court applied the “look-through” approach, finding jurisdiction in the federal-law claims contained in Badgerow’s underlying employment action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed.

The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The “look-through” approach to determining federal jurisdiction does not apply to requests to confirm or vacate arbitral awards under Sections 9 and 10 of the FAA. The Court distinguished precedent that interpreted other FAA sections. Sections 9 and 10 lack specific statutory language that instructs a federal court to “look through” the petition to the “underlying substantive controversy.” When Congress includes particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another section of the same Act, the choice is considered deliberate.