Jinks v. Richland County, 538 U.S. 456 (2003)

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certiorari to the supreme court of south carolina

No. 02-258. Argued March 5, 2003—Decided April 22, 2003

Title 28 U. S. C. 1367 determines whether a federal district court with jurisdiction over a civil action may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over other claims forming part of the same Article III "case or controversy." If the court declines to exercise such jurisdiction, the claims will be dismissed and must be refiled in state court. To prevent the limitations period on those claims from expiring while they are pending in federal court, 1367(d) requires state courts to toll the period while a supplemental claim is pending in federal court and for 30 days after its dismissal unless state law provides for a longer tolling period. Petitioner filed a federal-court action claiming that Richland County (herein-after respondent) and others violated 42 U. S. C. 1983 in connection with her husband's death. She also asserted supplemental claims for wrongful death and survival under South Carolina law. The District Court granted defendants summary judgment on the 1983 claim and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the state-law claims. Petitioner then filed the supplemental claims in state court and won a wrongful-death verdict against respondent. The State Supreme Court reversed, finding the state-law claims time barred. Although they would not have been barred under 1367(d)'s tolling rule, the court held 1367(d) unconstitutional as applied to claims brought in state court against a State's political subdivisions.

Held: Section 1367(d)'s application to claims brought against a State's political subdivisions is constitutional. Pp. 461-467.

(a) The Court rejects respondent's contention that 1367(d) is facially invalid because it exceeds Congress's enumerated powers. Rather, it is necessary and proper for executing Congress's power "[t]o constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court," Art. I, 8, cl. 9, and assuring that those tribunals may fairly and efficiently exercise "[t]he judicial Power of the United States," Art. III, 1. As to "necessity": It suffices that 1367(d) is conducive to the administration of justice in federal court and is plainly adapted to that end. See McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 421. And as to propriety: Contrary to respondent's claim, 1367(d) does not violate state-sovereignty principles by regulating state-court procedures. Pp. 461-465.

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