Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 27 (1995)

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

Opinion of the Court

Post, at 256-257. This reverses the traditional rule, confirmed only last Term, that statutes do not apply retroactively unless Congress expressly states that they do. See Landgraf, supra, at 277-280. The dissent adds that "the traditional construction of remedial measures . . . support[s] construing [Rule 60(b)] to apply to past as well as future judgments." Post, at 257. But reliance on the vaguely remedial purpose of a statute to defeat the presumption against retroactivity was rejected in the companion cases of Landgraf, see 511 U. S., at 284-286, and n. 37, and Rivers v. Roadway Express, 511 U. S., at 309-313. Cf. Landgraf, supra, at 297 (Blackmun, J., dissenting) ("This presumption [against retroactive legislation] need not be applied to remedial legislation . . .") (citing Sampeyreac, 7 Pet., at 238).

The dissent sets forth a number of hypothetical horribles flowing from our assertedly "rigid holding"—for example, the inability to set aside a civil judgment that has become final during a period when a natural disaster prevented the timely filing of a certiorari petition. Post, at 262. That is horrible not because of our holding, but because the underlying statute itself enacts a "rigid" jurisdictional bar to entertaining untimely civil petitions. Congress could undoubtedly enact prospective legislation permitting, or indeed requiring, this Court to make equitable exceptions to an otherwise applicable rule of finality, just as district courts do pursuant to Rule 60(b). It is no indication whatever of the invalidity of the constitutional rule which we announce, that it produces unhappy consequences when a legislature lacks foresight, and acts belatedly to remedy a deficiency in the law. That is a routine result of constitutional rules. See, e. g., Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U. S. 37 (1990) (Ex Post Facto Clause precludes postoffense statutory extension of a criminal sentence); United States Trust Co. of N. Y. v. New Jersey, 431 U. S. 1 (1977) (Contract Clause prevents retroactive alteration of contract with state bondholders); Louisville Joint Stock Land Bank v. Radford, 295 U. S. 555, 589-


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