How are a consulting firm and President Donald Trump able to singlehandedly take a lawsuit by adult film star Stormy Daniels out of her chosen forum in California state court?
The answer begins with the Constitution, which extends the federal judicial power to cases between "Citizens of different States," according to a legal analysis by NBC News. The Framers included “diversity jurisdiction” in the Constitution at least in part to protect out-of-state plaintiffs from the possible bias of local state courts.
The modern diversity statute gives federal courts power to hear civil cases where (1) the dollar amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, and (2) the parties are citizens of different states. The federal removal statute allows defendants to unilaterally drag a case from state court up to federal court, so long as the federal court could hear the case — which it can, if there’s diversity jurisdiction.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing to challenge the validity of a non-disclosure agreement about an alleged "intimate" relationship she says she signed in exchange for $130,000 in the fall of 2016, while Trump was running for president. The White House has denied the allegations against Trump.