Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 22 (1995)

Page:   Index   Previous  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  Next

232

PLAUT v. SPENDTHRIFT FARM, INC.

Opinion of the Court

courts themselves would obviously raise no issue of separation of powers, and would be precisely in accord with the language of the decision that the Solicitor General relies upon. We held in Schor that, although a litigant had consented to bring a state-law counterclaim before an Article I tribunal, 478 U. S., at 849, we would nonetheless choose to consider his Article III challenge, because "when these Article III limitations are at issue, notions of consent and waiver cannot be dispositive," id., at 851 (emphasis added). See also Freytag v. Commissioner, 501 U. S. 868, 878-879 (1991) (finding a "rare cas[e] in which we should exercise our discretion" to hear a waived claim based on the Appointments Clause, Art. II, 2, cl. 2).6

Petitioners also rely on a miscellany of decisions upholding legislation that altered rights fixed by the final judgments of non-Article III courts, see, e. g., Sampeyreac v. United States, 7 Pet. 222, 238 (1833); Freeborn v. Smith, 2 Wall. 160 (1865), or administrative agencies, Paramino Lumber Co. v. Marshall, 309 U. S. 370 (1940), or that altered the prospective effect of injunctions entered by Article III courts, Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 18 How., at 421. These cases distinguish themselves; nothing in our holding today calls them into question. Petitioners rely on general statements from some of these cases that legislative annulment of final judgments is not an exercise of judicial power. But even if it were our practice to decide cases by weight of prior dicta, we would find the many dicta that reject congressional

6 The statute at issue in United States v. Sioux Nation, 448 U. S. 371 (1980), seemingly prohibited courts from raising the res judicata defense sua sponte. See id., at 432-433 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting). The Court did not address that point; as far as appears it saw no reason to raise the defense on its own. Of course the unexplained silences of our decisions lack precedential weight. See, e. g., Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U. S. 619, 630-631 (1993).

Page:   Index   Previous  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007