Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 23 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 211 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

power to revise the judgments of Article III courts to be the more instructive authority. See supra, at 225-226.7

Finally, petitioners liken 27A(b) to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), which authorizes courts to relieve parties from a final judgment for grounds such as excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, or "any other reason justifying relief . . . ." We see little resemblance. Rule 60(b), which authorizes discretionary judicial revision of judgments in the listed situations and in other " 'extraordinary circumstances,' " Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp., 486 U. S. 847, 864 (1988), does not impose any legislative mandate to reopen upon the courts, but merely reflects and

7 The dissent tries to turn the dicta of the territorial-court cases, Sampeyreac and Freeborn, into holdings. It says of Sampeyreac that "the relevant judicial power that the [challenged] statute arguably supplanted was this Court's Article III appellate jurisdiction." Post, at 253. Even if it were true that the judicial power under discussion was that of this Court (which is doubtful), the point could still not possibly constitute a holding, since there was no "supplanted power" at issue in the case. One of the principal grounds of decision was that the finality of the territorial court's decree had not been retroactively abrogated. The decree had been entered under a previous statute which provided that a decree "shall be final and conclusive between the parties." Sampeyreac v. United States, 7 Pet., at 239 (emphasis in original). The asserted basis for reopening was fraud, in that Sampeyreac did not actually exist. We reasoned that "as Sampeyreac was a fictitious person, he was no party to the decree, and the act [under which the decree had allegedly become final] in strictness does not apply to the case." Ibid.

The dissent likewise says of Freeborn that "the 'judicial power' to which the opinion referred was this Court's Article III appellate jurisdiction." Post, at 255. Once again, even if it was, the point remains dictum. No final judgment was at issue in Freeborn. The challenged statute reached only " 'cases of appeal or writ of error heretofore prosecuted and now pending in the supreme court of the United States,' " see post, at 254, n. 7 (quoting 13 Stat. 441) (emphasis added). As we have explained, see supra, at 226, Congress may require (insofar as separation-of-powers limitations are concerned) that new statutes be applied in cases not yet final but still pending on appeal.


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