Willy v. Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 6 (1992)

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136

WILLY v. COASTAL CORP.

Opinion of the Court

risdiction, the district court lacks "a substantive source of judicial power, beyond that conferred by Article III." Id., at 18. Thus, according to petitioner, even had Congress attempted to grant the courts authority to impose sanctions in a case such as this, the grant would run afoul of Article III.

In making this claim, petitioner acknowledges that there are some circumstances in which federal courts may impose attorney's fees or costs, even where the court eventually proves to be without subject-matter jurisdiction.2 He contends, however, that such instances are limited to a narrowly prescribed category of cases and do not include the situation in which sanctions are imposed against a party who has successfully contested jurisdiction.

We think petitioner's contentions flawed in several respects. Article I, 8, cl. 9, authorizes Congress to establish the lower federal courts. From almost the founding days of this country, it has been firmly established that Congress, acting pursuant to its authority to make all laws "necessary and proper" 3 to their establishment, also may enact laws regulating the conduct of those courts and the means by which their judgments are enforced. See Wayman v. Southard, 10 Wheat. 1, 21-22 (1825); Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U. S. 460, 473 (1965) (describing "long-recognized power of Congress to prescribe housekeeping rules for federal courts"). Indeed, in acknowledging the many circumstances in which sanctions can be imposed, several of which have a statutory basis, petitioner effectively concedes both Congress' general power to regulate the courts and its specific

2 See Brief for Petitioner 18, n. 14, acknowledging 28 U. S. C. 1919 (authorizing "payment of just costs" in any action or suit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction) and 28 U. S. C. 1447(c) (authorizing attorney's fees and costs for wrongful removal). See also Brief for Petitioner 22-27, admitting federal-court authority to exercise "inherent powers" to sanction through attorney's fees and costs or criminal contempt those who obstruct a court's effort to determine its jurisdiction.

3 Art. I, 8, cl. 18.

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