Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607, 14 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

286, p. 339 (1880). But cf. post, at 638-639 (Kennedy, J., dissenting).

This Court itself has not previously spoken decisively on this matter. On the one hand, it has clearly stated that the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination does not apply after the relevant limitations period has expired. Brown v. Walker, 161 U. S. 591, 597-598 (1896). And that rule may suggest that the expiration of a statute of limitations is irrevocable, for otherwise the passage of time would not have eliminated fear of prosecution.

On the other hand, in Stewart v. Kahn, 11 Wall. 493, 503- 504 (1871), this Court upheld a statute, enacted during the Civil War, that retroactively tolled all civil and criminal limitations for periods during which the war had made service of process impossible or courts inaccessible. Stewart, however, involved a civil, not a criminal, limitations statute. Id., at 500-501. Significantly, in reviewing this civil case, the Court upheld the statute as an exercise of Congress' war powers, id., at 507, without explicit consideration of any potential collision with the Ex Post Facto Clause. Moreover, the Court already had held, independent of Congress' Act, that statutes of limitations were tolled for "the time during which the courts in the States lately in rebellion were closed to the citizens of the loyal States . . . ." Id., at 503; see also Hanger v. Abbott, 6 Wall. 532, 539-542 (1868). Hence, the Court could have seen the relevant statute as ratifying a pre-existing expectation of tolling due to wartime exigencies, rather than as extending limitations periods that had truly expired. See id., at 541; see also Stewart, supra, at 507. In our view, Stewart therefore no more dictates the outcome here than does seemingly contrary precedent regarding the Fifth Amendment privilege.

Instead, we believe that the outcome of this case is determined by the nature of the harms that California's law creates, by the fact that the law falls within Justice Chase's second category as Chase understood that category, and by

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