literal reading of section 1367 is appropriate is a question of some intricacy. In order to address that question fully, it will be useful first to canvass the principal cases antedating section 1367, and second to examine the text and legislative history of section 1367 itself.
In 1939, in Clark v. Paul Gray Inc., 306 U.S. 583, 83 L. Ed. 1001, 59 S. Ct. 744 (1939), the Supreme Court had before it an appeal from a decree of a three-judge district court permanently enjoining enforcement of a California statute which imposed fees in the amount of $ 15 per automobile driven into California with a view to being sold in that state; the California regulatory scheme was found by the district court to be unconstitutional, offending both the commerce clause and the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed. But, before reaching the merits, the Court sua sponte addressed the issue of the district court's subject matter jurisdiction: specifically, the Court pursued the question whether the claims of the plaintiffs -- "numerous individuals, copartnerships and corporations," id. at 587 -- exceeded $ 3,000 and thereby satisfied the then prevailing standard of jurisdictional amount. On the basis of the record before it, the Court, speaking through Justice Stone, concluded that the captioned lead plaintiff, Paul Gray, Inc., was the only plaintiff presenting a claim which by itself reached the jurisdictional threshold. With matters in this posture, the Court concluded that the scope of the district court's jurisdiction was controlled by the "familiar rule that when several plaintiffs assert separate and distinct demands in a single suit, the amount involved in each separate controversy must be of the requisite amount to be within the jurisdiction of the district court, and that those amounts cannot be added together to satisfy jurisdictional requirements." Id. at 589. This meant that the district court only had jurisdiction with respect to the claim of Paul Gray, Inc.
Not long after the decision in Clark v. Paul Gray, Inc., the Second Circuit had occasion to consider whether, in the context of a diversity class action brought pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the original Rule 23 of the then new Rules), it was permissible to aggregate the class members' claims in order to reach the jurisdictional amount. The Second Circuit's answer, delivered by Judge Clark, joined by Judges Swan and Augustus Hand, was in the negative. Where a "class [can] be found only in the 'spurious' sense that a common question of law and fact [is] involved . . . aggregation is improper regardless of whether other members of the class purport to join in the original complaint or intervene to submit to the adjudication." Hackner v. Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, 117 F.2d 95, 98 (2d Cir. 1941). Six years later -- in 1947 -- the Second Circuit reaffirmed the conception of diversity class actions adopted in Hackner ; that decision -- said Judge Frank, joined by Judges Learned Hand and Augustus Hand -- "held that a proceeding under 23(a) (3) is, in effect, but a congeries of separate suits so that each claimant must, as to his own claim, meet the jurisdictional requirements." Steele v. Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, 164 F.2d 387, 388 (2d Cir. 1947).
Following the 1966 reconstruction of Rule 23, the Supreme Court, in Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 22 L. Ed. 2d 319, 89 S. Ct. 1053 (1969), considered -- in the context of diversity class actions in which no named plaintiff's claim reached the jurisdictional amount -- whether the established non-aggregation rule still held. Speaking through Justice Black (over a dissent by Justice Fortas, joined by Justice Douglas), the Court ruled that abandonment of the non-aggregation rule in class actions would undercut the congressional "purpose . . . to check, to some degree, the rising caseload of the federal courts." Id. 394 U.S. 332 at 339-40. The Court went on to say:
The expansion of the federal caseload could be most noticeable in class actions brought on the basis of diversity of citizenship. Under current doctrine, if one member of a class is of diverse citizenship from the class opponent, and no nondiverse members are named parties, the suit may be brought in federal court even though all other members of the class are citizens of the same State as the defendant and have nothing to fear from trying the lawsuit in the courts of their own State. See Supreme Tribe of Ben-Hur v. Cauble, 255 U.S. 356, 65 L. Ed. 673, 41 S. Ct. 338 (1921). To allow aggregation of claims where only one member of the entire class is of diverse citizenship could transfer into the federal courts numerous local controversies involving exclusively questions of state law. In Healy v. Ratta, 292 U.S. 263, 78 L. Ed. 1248, 54 S. Ct. 700 (1934), this Court noted that by successively raising the jurisdictional amount, Congress had determined that cases involving lesser amounts should be left to be dealt with by the state courts and said: