OCTOBER TERM, 2000
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit
No. 00-5961. Argued April 16, 2001—Decided June 28, 2001
After petitioner Tyler was convicted of second-degree murder and his conviction was affirmed on appeal, he filed five Louisiana state-court petitions for postconviction relief and a federal habeas petition, all of which were denied. After this Court decided Cage v. Louisiana, 498 U. S. 39—under which a jury instruction is unconstitutional if there is a reasonable likelihood that the jury understood it to allow conviction without proof beyond a reasonable doubt—Tyler filed a sixth state petition, claiming that a jury instruction in his trial was substantively identical to the one condemned in Cage. The State District Court denied relief, and the State Supreme Court affirmed. Seeking to pursue his Cage claim in federal court, Tyler moved the Fifth Circuit for permission to file a second habeas application, as required by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The court granted the motion. The District Court then proceeded to the merits of Tyler's claim and denied relief. Although the Fifth Circuit affirmed, it stated that the District Court had erred by failing first to determine whether Tyler had satisfied AEDPA's successive habeas standard, which requires a district court to dismiss a claim in a second or successive application unless, as relevant here, the applicant "shows" that the "claim relies on a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable." 28 U. S. C. § 2244(b)(2)(A) (emphasis added). Relying on Circuit precedent, the court concluded that Tyler did not meet this standard.
Held: The Cage rule was not "made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court," within the meaning of § 2244(b)(2)(A). Pp. 661-668.
(a) Based on § 2244(b)(2)(A)'s plain meaning when read as a whole, "made" means "held." Under the statute, this Court is the only entity that can "ma[k]e" a new rule retroactive. The new rule becomes retroactive, not by the decisions of the lower court or by the combined action of the Supreme Court and the lower courts, but simply by the action of the Supreme Court. The only way the Supreme Court can, by itself, lay out and construct a rule's retroactive effect is through a holding. This Court does not "ma[k]e" a rule retroactive when it merely estab-Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
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