Willy v. Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 4 (1992)

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134

WILLY v. COASTAL CORP.

Opinion of the Court

authority to impose Rule 11 sanctions. It concluded that the authority to impose Rule 11 sanctions rested in the "inherent powers" of the federal courts—those powers " 'necessary to the exercise of all others.' " Id., at 966 (quoting Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U. S. 752, 764 (1980)). The court concluded that the exercise of Rule 11 powers was an example of such inherent powers. It principally relied on our recent decision in Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U. S. 384 (1990), in which we upheld a Rule 11 sanction imposed for filing a frivolous complaint even though the sanction order was entered after the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed its suit.

Before this Court, petitioner advances two claims. The first is that Congress, in acquiescing in the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, did not "authoriz[e] recovery of fees or costs against parties who prevail on jurisdictional grounds." Brief for Petitioner 18. Petitioner finds in both the Rules Enabling Act and the Rules the "implicit premise . . . that rules of practice and procedure are not necessary for disputes beyond the judicial power conferred by Article III." Id., at 28. Phrased this way, the petitioner's contention is correct, but it does not dispose of this case.

The Rules Enabling Act, 28 U. S. C. 2072, authorizes the Court to "prescribe general rules of practice and procedure and rules of evidence for cases in the United States district courts . . . ." Those rules may not "abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive right." In response, we have adopted the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 1 governs their scope. It provides that "[t]hese rules govern the procedure in the United States district courts in all suits of a civil nature . . . ." Rule 81(c) specifically provides that the Rules "apply to civil actions removed to the United States district courts from the state courts and govern procedure after removal." This expansive language contains no express ex-

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