Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 14 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 214 (2002)

Kennedy, J., dissenting

for the purpose of seeking clarification in this area of state law.

* * *

For the foregoing reasons, we answer the first two issues presented in this case in the affirmative, vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Justice Kennedy, with whom The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.

Respondent is a California prisoner who did not file a notice of appeal. The Court, however, begins by considering a question not presented, whether the statute of limitations would have been tolled for a hypothetical prisoner who filed an appeal somewhere else. This is a strong indication that the Court is off in the wrong direction. After holding that tolling applies for its hypothetical appellant, the Court finally gets to California, where no appeal was filed. On the Court's view, California's procedures are "unique," ante, at 217, so giving them special treatment under the statute will affect only that one State. It is quite wrong about this. In fact, today's ruling will disrupt the sound operation of the federal limitations period in at least 36 States. This is what happens when the Court departs from the text of a nationwide statute to reach a result in one particular State.

The Court's conclusion that an application is pending before the filing of an original writ in the California Supreme Court rests on three propositions: First, "application" means "petition, appeal from the denial of a petition, and anything else that functions as an appeal." Second, California's procedures are very different from those in other States. Third, a petition for an original writ in the California Supreme Court functions as an appeal. The first is an untenable interpretation of statutory text. The second and third, however, are wrong on both the facts and the law. The rem-


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