United States v. Noland, 517 U.S. 535, 8 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

The Sixth Circuit, to be sure, invoked a more modest authority than legislative revision when it relied on statements by the congressional leaders of the 1978 Code revisions, see 48 F. 3d, at 215, 217-218, and it is true that Representative Edwards and Senator DeConcini stated that "under existing law, a claim is generally subordinated only if [the] holder of such claim is guilty of inequitable conduct, or the claim itself is of a status susceptible to subordination, such as a penalty or a claim for damages arising from the purchase or sale of a security of the debtor." 124 Cong. Rec. 32398 (1978) (Rep. Edwards); see also id., at 33998 (Sen. DeConcini). But their remarks were not statements of existing law and the Sixth Circuit's reliance on the unexplained reference to subordinated penalties ran counter to this Court's previous endorsement of priority treatment for postpetition tax penalties. See Nicholas v. United States, 384 U. S. 678, 692-695 (1966). More fundamentally, statements in legislative history cannot be read to convert statutory leeway for judicial development of a rule on particularized exceptions into delegated authority to revise statutory categorization, untethered to any obligation to preserve the coherence of substantive congressional judgments.

the conversion of [this] case to chapter 7 was tantamount to the filing of a new petition." Brief for Respondent 16, n. 7. But we agree with the Sixth Circuit, see In re First Truck Lines, Inc., 48 F. 3d 210, 214 (1995), that the penalties at issue here are postpetition administrative expenses pursuant to 11 U. S. C. 348(d), 503(b)(1). Although 348(d) provides that a "claim against the estate or the debtor that arises after the order for relief but before conversion in a case that is converted under section 1112, 1208, or 1307 of this title, other than a claim specified in section 503(b) of this title, shall be treated for all purposes as if such claim had arisen immediately before the date of the filing of the petition," the claim for priority here is "specified in section 503(b)" and Congress has already determined that it is not to be treated like prepetition penalties. Noland may or may not have a valid policy argument, but it is up to Congress, not this Court, to revise the determination if it so chooses.

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