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Subject only to the limitations prescribed by the Federal Constitution, a state legislature has the power to determine the extent to which courts of the state may exercise personal jurisdiction over absent defendants. The common law recognized only two bases of jurisdiction -presence within the state and actual consent. The additional bases approved in this century by the Supreme Court may be utilized by state courts only to the extent that state statutes permit. Hence, the states have enacted various types of long-arm statutes, all of which are designed to extend the in personam jurisdiction of state courts proportionately with the post-Pennoyer liberalization of federal due process requirements.

The early long-arm statutes were necessarily of a very limited and specific character. Nonresident motorist statutes, for instance, empowered the courts to take jurisdiction over nonresident defendants sued on causes of action arising out of their operation of motor vehicles within the forum state. Other statutes conferred jurisdiction over absent "residents" or over absent nonresident individuals and foreign corporations sued on causes of action arising out of business they had done within the forum state. After International Shoe opened the door to a considerable expansion of the constitutional boundaries of state courts' long-arm jurisdiction, the state legislatures began enacting long-arm statutes considerably more comprehensive in scope.

The California legislature has enacted a long-arm statute that in terms makes the long-arm jurisdiction of California courts coextensive with constitutional boundary lines. New section 410.10 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which becomes effective July 1, 1970, succinctly states: "A court of this state may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this state or of the United States." Thus California, after nearly 100 years of living with a patchwork quilt of jurisdictional provisions, some archaic and others self-limiting, has adopted the most comprehensive long-arm statute of any state. The advantages of couching the statute in such sweeping language are obvious. By stating the governing rule solely in terms of constitutional power, without enumerating specific circumstances under which its courts may take jurisdiction, California has avoided many problems of statutory construction that have plagued courts in other states.


21 Hastings L.J. 1163 (1970)