Baker v. General Motors
Baker, it goes without saying, is a difficult case.
One thing we can draw from it is that injunctions are, in general,
subject to full faith and credit, just like money judgments. The second
is that there is no public policy exception to the full faith and
credit due judgments. On the other hand, the entire Supreme Court
agreed that the Missouri court still did not have to abide by the
Michigan injunction forbidding Elwell from testifying against GM. The
problem is understanding why.
1) Here is one problem. The Michigan injunction was pursuant to a settlement agreement - a contract.
We might therefore understand the case as really about a contract
rather than a judgment. Why might that make a difference?
2) Here is another problem. The Missouri plaintiffs argued that under
due process they could not be adversely affected by the Michigan
decree, since they were not parties in the case in Michigan. Could this
be understood as a due process case? Is it true that they could not be
disadvantaged by the Michigan proceedings without due process being
violated? How important was this concern to Ginsburg's opinion?
3) Injunctions are routinely understood as always modifiable - one may
always go back to the issuing court and get the injunction changed. Why
might that make a difference to the full faith and credit they are due
in other courts?
4) Consider the following part of Ginsburg's opinion in Baker (at pp.
535-36 in the 7th ed.and pp. 532 in the 8th ed.):
Orders commanding action or inaction have been denied enforcement in
a sister State when they purported to accomplish an official act within
the exclusive province of that other State or interfered with
litigation over which the ordering State had no authority....
[A]ntisuit injunctions regarding litigation elsewhere, even if
compatible with due process as a direction constraining parties to the
decree in fact have not controlled the second court's actions regarding
litigation in that court. E. Scoles & P. Hay, Conflict of Laws
§24.21, p. 981 (2d ed. 1992) (observing that antisuit injunction
"does not address, and thus has no preclusive effect on, the merits of
the litigation [in the second forum]"). Sanctions for violations of an
injunction, in any event, are generally administered by the court that
issued the injunction.
What do Scoles & Hay mean when they say that the anti-suit
injunction "does not address, and thus has no preclusive effect on,
the merits of the litigation [in the second forum]"? How is this an
argument that antisuit injunctions are not entitled to Full Faith and
5) How important is it to Ginburg that the Michigan decree concerned
evidentiary rules in the Missouri court?
6) Kennedy argues that since the decree is not enforceable in Michigan,
it is not in Missouri. But what would he say if it was enforceable in
7) Is Scalia arguing that if a judgment is issued in State 1 and its
enforcement is at issue in State 2, the method of enforcement is always up
to the State 2? Does that mean that State 2 could reconsider the
amount of a money judgment issued in State 1? And is State 2 refusing
to enforce an injunction issued by State 1 entirely really an example of
State 2 making a decision about the means
of enforcement of State 1's judgment?