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This Article is presented in three parts. Section I traces the statutory and case development of federal question jurisdiction, both under the constitutional and statutory “arising under”' language. Section II demonstrates the problems that the Mottley rule has caused in building a rational system of federal question jurisdiction, particularly in cases seeking declaratory judgments. Section III contends that the Mottley rule is irrational because it is a mechanical rule that ignores important policy considerations underlying the existence of federal question jurisdiction. Section III goes on to suggest that federal question jurisdiction should depend upon the centrality of the federal issue to the litigation and the importance of federal, rather than state, resolution of the issue. Finally, section III urges that federal jurisdiction ought to exist when a plaintiff anticipates a federal defense, and that either party ought to be permitted to remove a case from state to federal court when any of the pleadings raises a pivotal federal issue. Only in this manner can the purposes underlying federal question jurisdiction be served consistently.