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Hamer v. Neighborhood Hous. Servs.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 10, 2017, Argued; November 8, 2017, Decided

No. 16-658.


Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents a question of time, specifically, time to file a notice of appeal from a district court’s judgment. In Bowles v. Russell, 551 U. S. 205, 210-213, 127 S. Ct. 2360, 168 L. Ed. 2d 96 (2007), this Court clarified that an appeal filing deadline prescribed by statute will be regarded as “jurisdictional,” meaning that late filing of the appeal notice necessitates dismissal of the appeal. But a time limit prescribed only in a court-made rule, Bowles acknowledged, is not jurisdictional; it is, instead, a mandatory claim-processing rule subject to forfeiture if not properly raised by the appellee. Ibid.;  [*17] Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U. S. 443, 456, 124 S. Ct. 906, 157 L. Ed. 2d 867 (2004). Because the Court of Appeals held jurisdictional a time limit specified in a rule, not in a statute, 835 F. 3d 761, 763 (CA7 2016), we vacate that court’s judgment dismissing the appeal.

“Only Congress may determine a lower federal court’s subject-matter jurisdiction.” Kontrick, 540 U. S., at 452, 124 S. Ct. 906, 157 L. Ed. 2d 867 (citing U. S. Const., Art. III, §1); Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U. S. 365, 370, 98 S. Ct. 2396, 57 L. Ed. 2d 274 (1978) (“[I]t is axiomatic that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not create or withdraw federal jurisdiction.”). Accordingly, a provision  [**254]  governing the time to appeal in a civil action qualifies as jurisdictional only if Congress sets the time. See Bowles, 551 U. S., at 211-212, 127 S. Ct. 2360, 168 L. Ed. 2d 96 (noting “the jurisdictional distinction between court-promulgated rules and limits enacted by Congress”); [***5]  Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U. S. 1, 10, 61 S. Ct. 422, 85 L. Ed. 479 (1941) (noting “the inability of a court, by rule, to extend or restrict the jurisdiction conferred by a statute”). A time limit not prescribed by Congress ranks as a mandatory claim-processing rule, serving “to promote the orderly progress of litigation by requiring that the parties take certain procedural steps at certain specified times.” Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U. S. 428, 435, 131 S. Ct. 1197, 179 L. Ed. 2d 159 (2011).

This Court and other forums have sometimes overlooked this distinction, “mischaracteriz[ing] claim-processing rules or elements of a cause of action as jurisdictional limitations, particularly when that characterization was not central to the case, and thus did not require close analysis.” Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U. S. 154, 161, 130 S. Ct. 1237, 176 L. Ed. 2d 18 (2010). But prevailing precedent makes the distinction critical. Failure to comply with a jurisdictional time prescription, we have maintained, deprives a court of adjudicatory authority over the case, necessitating dismissal—a “drastic” result. Shinseki, 562 U. S., at 435, 131 S. Ct. 1197, 179 L. Ed. 2d 159; Bowles, 551 U. S., at 213, 127 S. Ct. 2360, 168 L. Ed. 2d 96 (“[W]hen an ‘appeal has not been prosecuted . . . within the time limited by the acts of Congress, it must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.’” (quoting United States v. Curry, 47 U.S. 106, 6 How. 106, 113, 12 L. Ed. 363 (1848))). The jurisdictional defect is not subject to waiver or forfeiture 1 and may be raised at any time in the court of first instance and on direct appeal. Kontrick, 540 U. S., at 455, 124 S. Ct. 906, 157 L. Ed. 2d 867. 2 In contrast to the ordinary operation of [***6]  our adversarial system, courts are obliged to notice jurisdictional issues and raise them on their own initiative. Shinseki, 562 U. S., at 434, 131 S. Ct. 1197, 179 L. Ed. 2d 159.

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138 S. Ct. 13 *; 199 L. Ed. 2d 249 **; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 6765 ***; 86 U.S.L.W. 4005; 130 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 879; 99 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 179; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 5


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


Hamer v. Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of Chi., 835 F.3d 761, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16113 (7th Cir. Ill., Aug. 31, 2016)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.


notice of appeal, court of appeals, notice, district court, mandatory, entry of judgment, claim-processing, prescription, prescribed, limits, cases, deadline, extension of time

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Timing of Appeals, Dismissal of Appeals, Involuntary Dismissals, Governments, Courts, Rule Application & Interpretation, Jurisdiction, Jurisdictional Sources, Statutory Sources, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Waiver & Preservation of Defenses, Interpretation