Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 20 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

affect the separation-of-powers analysis." Post, at 247. Just so. The issue here is not the validity or even the source of the legal rule that produced the Article III judgments, but rather the immunity from legislative abrogation of those judgments themselves. The separation-of-powers question before us has nothing to do with Lampf, and the dissent's attack on Lampf has nothing to do with the question before us.


Apart from the statute we review today, we know of no instance in which Congress has attempted to set aside the final judgment of an Article III court by retroactive legislation. That prolonged reticence would be amazing if such interference were not understood to be constitutionally proscribed. The closest analogue that the Government has been able to put forward is the statute at issue in United States v. Sioux Nation, 448 U. S. 371 (1980). That law required the Court of Claims, " '[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law . . . [to] review on the merits, without regard to the defense of res judicata or collateral estoppel,' " a Sioux claim for just compensation from the United States— even though the Court of Claims had previously heard and rejected that very claim. We considered and rejected separation-of-powers objections to the statute based upon Hayburn's Case and United States v. Klein. See 448 U. S., at 391-392. The basis for our rejection was a line of precedent (starting with Cherokee Nation v. United States, 270 U. S. 476 (1926)) that stood, we said, for the proposition that "Congress has the power to waive the res judicata effect of a prior judgment entered in the Government's favor on a claim against the United States." Sioux Nation, 448 U. S., at 397. And our holding was as narrow as the precedent on which we had relied: "In sum, . . . Congress' mere waiver of the res judicata effect of a prior judicial decision rejecting the validity of a legal claim against the United States does

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