Questions on Thomas v. Washington Gas Light Co.

1) Stevens rejects McCartin's "unmistakeable language" rule on the ground that it is up to the Supreme Court, not the states, to determine the scope of the full faith and credit clause. But why is it contrary to full faith and credit for a state to say that the courts of sister states don't have to recognize its judgments to the same extent that its own courts do? Full faith and credit protects the finality interests of the state rendering a judgment. It does not say what that state's finality interests must be.

2) On the other hand, why doesn't the decision in McCartin simply follow from the fact that the case concerned a settlement agreement and the agreement specifically said that it did not affect rights under Wisconsin law? Wasn't it a case about interpreting this settlement contract, not a question about full faith a credit at all?

3) Given that McCartin's reasoning is rejected, why does Stevens nevertheless limit Magnolia? Why does the court refuse to give the Virginia judgment its full preclusive effect? Stevens argues that Virginia's lacks an interest in preventing DC from giving a subsequent award. But even if Virginia's interests should matter, why isn't Virginia interested in the finality of its judgments? Why isn't that enough?

4) Is Stevens right that the Virginia workers comp board's decision should not be understood as precluding subsequent DC relief because the Virginia board could not apply the law of another state? Why should that matter? Furthermore, as White notes, even a Virginia court of general jurisdiction may be prohibited by Virginia's choice of law rules from applying anything other than Virginia law. Would Stevens be willing to say that the judgment of this Virginia court of general jurisdiction would not bar the plaintiff from suing for more relief in DC under DC law?

5) How important to Stevens opinion is the idea that the Virginia board was not a court of general jurisdiction? Consider the following language from the end of the opinion:

We therefore would hold that a State has no legitimate interest within the context of our federal system in preventing another State from granting a supplemental compensation award when that second State would have had the power to apply its workmen's compensation law in the first instance. The Full Faith and Credit Clause should not be construed to preclude successive workmen's compensation awards. Accordingly, Magnolia Petroleum Co. v. Hunt should be overruled.

Doesn't this suggest a larger exception to Full Faith and Credit?