Federal Law

A Federal Notice of Appeal is Not Limited to 30 Days, that’s a Judicial Rule Subordinate to Statute

Re: timeliness of appeals in federal civil cases: Section 2107 of Title 28 of the U.S. Code (a federal statute) v FRAP 4 (a court-made rule).

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Permissibility Of Extensions Of Appeal Deadlines


Hamer v. Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of Chi. , 897 F.3d 835 (7th Cir. 2018, Post Supreme Court Reversal)

In its recent decision in Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, 138 S. Ct. 13 (2017), the U.S. Supreme Court clarified an important issue relating to appeals to the federal circuit courts. At issue in the case was whether a circuit court has jurisdiction to hear an appeal that was filed after the time limit prescribed by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (“FRAP”).

The Supreme Court held that a court-made rule limiting the length of an extension for filing a notice of appeal is not a “jurisdictional” rule mandating dismissal of the appeal if the time limit is exceeded. Rather, this type of limitation is a “claim-processing rule” that, in appropriate circumstances, may be found to have been waived or forfeited.


The general issue of the timeliness of appeals in federal civil cases is governed primarily by two sources: Section 2107 of Title 28 of the U.S. Code (a federal statute) and FRAP 4 (a court-made rule).

Though these two sources work in tandem to set a 30-day limit for filing an appeal from an adverse judgment, their language is slightly at odds with respect to extensions of that period. Section 2107(c) states: “The district court may, upon motion filed not later than 30 days after the expiration of the time otherwise set for bringing appeal, extend the time for appeal upon a showing of excusable neglect or good cause.” The statute, however, does not specify how lengthy an extension may be permitted for such cases of “excusable neglect or good cause.”

By contrast, Rule 4(a)(5)(C) of the FRAP appears to prescribe a strict time limit to be applied in all cases: “No extension [of time for filing a notice of appeal] may exceed 30 days after the prescribed time [for filing a notice of appeal] or 14 days after the date [of] the order granting the [extension] motion . . . , whichever is later.”

The Supreme Court in Hamer sought to reconcile these competing directives.

The Hamer Litigation

In the underlying action in Hamer, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois awarded summary judgment dismissing employment discrimination claims brought by a former employee. A week before the appellate filing deadline, the district court provided the plaintiff with a 60-day extension to file a notice of appeal, without objection by the defendant employer.

Pursuant to the district court’s order, the former employee filed her appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit prior to the expiration of the 60 days granted by the district court, but in excess of the 30 days prescribed by Rule 4(a)(5)(C) of the FRAP. The Seventh Circuit, however, dismissed the appeal, finding that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal because it was not filed within the 30-day limit set forth in Rule 4(a)(5)(C).

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed, finding that the Seventh Circuit had erroneously treated Rule 4(a)(5)(C) as a jurisdictional bar to its hearing the appeal. In an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court held that “an appeal filing deadline prescribed by statute will be regarded as ‘jurisdictional’. . . But a time limit prescribed only in a court-made rule . . . is not jurisdictional; it is, instead, a mandatory claim-processing rule” that may be waived or forfeited.

As its basis for this holding, the Court reasoned that because Congress controls the jurisdiction of federal courts, only Congress can limit their jurisdiction. The Court therefore found that because Rule 4(a)(5)(C) (a court-made rule) — and not § 2107 (a federal statute) —capped the permissible length of an extension, the time limitation in Rule 4(a)(5)(C) was not jurisdictional. Thus, the Court concluded, the Seventh Circuit was empowered to determine whether the defendant employer had waived any potential objections to the timeliness of the plaintiff’s appeal.

Conclusions From Hamer

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamer provides needed guidance regarding the timeliness of appeals, but also serves as a lesson of the importance of fully understanding federal statutes and court rules relating to civil procedure. The plaintiff in Hamer followed the order of the district court, but nonetheless fell into a protracted legal battle over appellate procedure. For its part, the defendant employer accepted the district court’s extension without objection and, as a result, may have waived any argument that the appeal should be deemed untimely under Rule 4(a)(5)(C).

Thus, as the Hamer decision highlights, it is critical that parties fully understand applicable deadlines and other rules when contemplating whether to appeal or oppose an appeal in a federal case.



Parts 1 and 2 describe the environment in which the Academy hopes to help the Court navigate.

When a district court receives a motion to extend the time to appeal in a civil case no later than 30 days after the initial deadline to appeal, 28 U.S.C. § 2107 does not limit the length of the extension the court may grant.

Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(C) (“Rule 4(a)(5)(C)”) limits the length of the extension to 30 days after the initial deadline or 14 days after the order granting it, which-ever is longer.

In part 3, the Academy pools its collective experience to explain why the length limits in Rule 4(a)(5)(C) should not be held jurisdictional.

First, forfeiting congressionally granted jurisdiction by rule would be a dangerous precedent for the Judicial Branch.

Second, making the rule jurisdictional when Congress has not done so would lay a trap for the unwary, a trap most likely to ensnare pro se litigants like Ms. Hamer.

Third, properly treated as a mandatory claim-processing rule, Rule 4(a)(5)(C) achieves its underlying purpose of finality because district courts must follow it when appellees invoke it, and appellants could not tolerate the risk of dismissal incurred by relying on a district court’s erroneous failure to follow it.

Finally, dismissing an appeal when Congress, the appellee, and a district judge considered it timely offends the appearance of justice and invites disrespect of the judiciary.

See Of- futt v. United States, 348 U.S. 11, 14 (1954); Williams-Yulee v. Fla. Bar, 135 S. Ct. 1656, 1666 (2015).

Part 4 collects the history of the relevant statutes and rules, leading to two lessons of history.

First, judicial precedent is a poor vehicle to reconsider the virtues of discretionary extensions of time to appeal. Discretionary extensions arise from Hill v. Hawes, 320 U.S. 520, 521 (1944).

At first, they reflected sympathy for the litigant who received no notice of entry of a judgment at a time when court dockets could be difficult to access.

Although the spur for them has dulled, discretionary extensions have thrived in both statute and rule.

Case law should not thwart them.

Second, the Rules Enabling Act of 1934, 28 U.S.C. § 2072, which authorizes Rule 4(a)(5)(C), does not address whether its length limits are or may be jurisdictional.

That statute should not affect the Court’s decision.


1. 28 U.S.C. § 2107 Does Not Limit Extensions Granted When the Appellant Moves Within the Initial Period.

Principally in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291 and 1295, Congress granted the courts of appeals subject matter jurisdiction over appeals from final decisions of district courts of the United States and certain territories. In 28 U.S.C. § 2107, Congress revoked jurisdiction over appeals in civil cases noticed outside the periods specified in that statute.

Those periods are 30 days from entry of the appealable document in most cases, § 2107(a), and 60 days from entry of the appealable decision when the United States or certain of its agents are parties to the case, § 2107(b).

These deadlines are copied in Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1) (“Rule 4(a)” substitutes for the full title hereafter).

In the first sentence of 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c), Congress granted district courts discretion to extend the deadlines of subsections (a) and (b) when a prospective appellant moves for an extension no later than 30 days after the applicable deadline.

We refer to these extensions as “initial period” extensions.

Congress did not limit the length of initial period extensions district courts may grant.

In the remainder of 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c), Congress granted district courts discretion to extend the 30-day and 60-day deadlines when a party was entitled to notice of entry of the appealable decision but did not receive that notice within 21 days of entry.

We call these extensions “notice failure” extensions.

Congress enacted two time limits for notice failure extensions:

(i) the prospective appellant must move for the extension within 180 days of entry of the appealable decision or 14 days of receiving notice of it, whichever is earlier;


(ii) the order may extend the deadline no more than 14 days from its own entry.

The respective sentences for initial period extensions and notice failure extensions are self-contained.

There can be no textual argument that the time limits for notice failure extensions apply to initial period extensions.

2. Rule 4(a)(5)(C) Imposes a Nonstatutory Limit on Initial Period Extensions, of Which Ms. Hamer Ran Afoul.

Rule 4(a)(5)(A) mimics 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c) in stating district courts’ discretionary authority to grant initial period extensions.

But Rule 4(a)(5)(C) limits the length of extensions to 30 days after the applicable deadline or 14 days after entry of the extension order, whichever is later.

Neither 28 U.S.C. § 2107 nor any other statute limits district courts’ power and discretion over the length of an initial period extension.

Here, the district court granted an initial period extension longer than allowed by Rule 4(a)(5)(C).

Ms. Hamer filed her notice of appeal within the time allowed by the order but outside the time allowed by the rule.

The appellee did not object and is not prejudiced by the delay.

The issue is whether this rule violation by the district court and Ms. Hamer deprives the court of appeals of jurisdiction.

3. Missing a Court-Rule Deadline Should Not Deprive an Appellate Court of Jurisdiction Unless the Rule Is Congruent with a Statute.

The Academy takes as a principle – and endorses the principle – that only Congress can limit the subject matter jurisdiction Congress granted to the courts of appeals.

Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 211 (2007);

Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 452 (2004).

3.1 Federal Courts Should Not Forfeit Jurisdiction.

A federal court’s error of refusing to exercise its jurisdiction is so serious that a court of appeals or this Court may issue a writ to compel the lower court to exercise its jurisdiction.

McClellan v. Carland, 217 U.S. 268, 280 (1910).

In McClellan, a court of appeals erred in allowing a trial court to abandon federal jurisdiction by staying the case in deference to state proceedings.

Id. at 280-81.

“In general, the Judiciary has a responsibility to decide cases properly before it, even those it ‘would gladly avoid.’ ”

Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U.S. 189, 194 (2012).

The Academy has found no precedent for the Judicial Branch to refuse wholesale to exercise jurisdiction over justiciable disputes within federal subject matter jurisdiction.

Valuable doctrines can justify refusing on a case-by-case basis to exercise jurisdiction;

for example, separation of powers justifies declining to adjudicate abstract political questions.

Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 485 (1923);

see Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U.S. at 196-97 (question not political).

But no doctrine justifies forfeiting statutory appellate jurisdiction. Forfeiture, even by making appellate jurisdiction depend on a party’s compliance with a court rule, would set a precedent of unknowable hazard to the Judicial Branch.

3.2 The Court Should Not Endorse a Trap for the Unwary.

A rule declaring a jurisdictional deadline not authorized by statute is a classic trap for the unwary. The Court has long condemned procedural traps.

Florentine v. Barton, 69 U.S. (2 Wall.) 210, 216 (1864);

Crown Coat Front Co. v. United States, 386 U.S. 503, 515 (1967);

Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 346 (1971);

Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 147 (1993).

Lawyers who do not specialize in appellate practice, their clients, and self-represented parties are likely to believe they can trust district courts’ orders.

They reasonably rely on procedural directions given in those orders.

District judges presented with unopposed procedural orders within the court’s statutory power are likely to grant them with the best of intentions and without doing original research.

This trap disproportionately ensnares pro se plaintiffs.

Ms. Hamer is an unsuccessful plaintiff whose appointed lawyer withdrew when she lost a dispositive motion.

Many plaintiffs with tort or statutory claims can engage counsel only by contingent fee agreements.

Contingent fee agreements often exclude services related to appeals.

When a contingent fee case miscarries, the plaintiff loses the case and representation at the same time.

Lost contingent fee cases are difficult for appellate lawyers to undertake because the client cannot afford to pay cash, and generating cash from the claim requires some other lawyer to prevail at trial after the appellate lawyer gains a reversal of the initial defeat.

These cases are neither more nor less likely than others to raise meritorious issues on appeal; the trap serves no legitimate governmental purpose.

This trap is worse than most because it encourages morally reprehensible behavior.

As the court of appeals pointed out, neither forfeiture, waiver, nor estoppel can overcome a defect in subject matter jurisdiction.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 671 (2009) (waiver and forfeiture);

Ins. Corp. of Ir. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982).

So if the rule is jurisdictional, an appellee faced with a motion that asks for too long an extension optimizes the chance to avoid the appeal by remaining silent – even encouraging a grant – and hoping the deceived appellant misses the deadline.

3.3 As a Claim-Processing Rule, Rule 4(a)(5)(C) Carries Potent Force.

The Academy is unaware of any need served by treating Rule 4(a)(5)(C) as jurisdictional.

It is rarely invoked; when it is, district judges normally set deadlines complying with its time limit.

An appellee may easily object to an extension exceeding the rule’s deadlines.

Rule 4(a)(5)(C) should be construed as a mandatory claim-processing rule.

“Mandatory claim- processing rules ‘seek to promote the orderly progress of litigation by requiring that the parties take certain procedural steps at certain specified times.’ ”

Manriquev. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1266, 1272 (2017).

“Unlike jurisdictional rules, mandatory claim-processing rules may be forfeited ‘if the party asserting the rule waits too long to raise the point.’ ”


Treated as a claim-processing rule, Rule 4(a)(5)(C) fully serves its underlying policy of finality.

First, if the appellee raises it, the district court must enforce it.

“If a party ‘properly raise[s] [a mandatory claim-processing rule]’ ’’ it is “ ‘unalterable.’ ”

Manrique, 137 S. Ct. at 1272.

Were a district court to ignore the rule after it is invoked, the rule would be self-enforcing.

The courts of appeals unanimously hold the abuse of discretion standard applies to review of extension orders.3

3 Graphic Commc’ns Int’l Union, Local 12-N v. Quebecor Printing Providence, Inc., 270 F.3d 1, 3-4 (1st Cir. 2001) (interpre- tation of rule is reviewed de novo; application is reviewed for abuse of discretion); Silivanch v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 333 F.3d 355, 362 (2d Cir. 2003); McGarr v. United States, 736 F.2d 912, 919

(3d Cir. 1984); Thompson v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 76 F.3d 530, 534 (4th Cir. 1996); Stotter v. Univ. of Tex. at San Antonio, 508 F.3d 812, 820 (5th Cir. 2007); Barnes v. Cavazos, 966 F.2d 1056,

1061 (6th Cir. 1992); Redfield v. Cont’l Cas. Corp., 818 F.2d 596,

602 (7th Cir. 1987); Infante v. City of Hastings, 668 F. Appx 687, 688 (8th Cir. 2016); Nat’l Indus. Inc. v. Republic Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 677 F.2d 1258, 1264 (9th Cir. 1982); United States v. Torres, 372

F.3d 1159, 1161 (10th Cir. 2004); Meek v. Metro. Dade Cty., 908

F.2d 1540, 1544 (11th Cir. 1990).

An appellant who files a notice of appeal after the invoked rule’s deadline expires therefore faces sure dismissal because the district court by definition abused its discretion when it ordered an excessive extension.

Appellants put on notice of the risk by appellees’ objections will not take the risk, so the policy of finality is enforced.

When an appellee does not object to an extension, the policy’s importance ebbs.

Neither the federal courts nor appellees who acquiesce in extensions have an interest in finality that justifies infusing a claim- processing rule with jurisdictional strength.

3.4 When No Party Objected and the Appellant Relied on a Federal Judge’s Order, Enforcing a Rule as Jurisdictional Is Unseemly.

When Congress, the presiding federal judge, and all parties to the case agree a party can have a 40-day extension of time, enforcing a judge-made rule to deprive a party of access to the appellate court invites disrespect of the judiciary.

Ordinary citizens observing their justice system would not understand such a ruling.

Ordinary citizens ejected from court reasonably could conclude lawyers and judges took advantage of them, and the rules are unfair.

Treating the rule here as jurisdictional defies the need to deliver both justice and the appearance of justice.

See Offutt v. United States, 348 U.S. at 14; Williams-Yulee v. Fla. Bar, 135 S. Ct. at 1666.

4. History of the Law of Extensions Teaches Useful Lessons.

This part surveys the history of the relevant statutes and rules to help answer two questions.

First, should the development of the current regime influence a view favorable to the Seventh Circuit’s holding?

It should not.

Second, does the Rules Enabling Act of 1934, 28 U.S.C. § 2072, influence this case?

It should not.

4.1 Historical Highlights.

By the original Rules Enabling Act of 1934, Pub. L. No. 73-415, 48 Stat. 1064 (1934), Congress authorized the Court “to prescribe, by general rules, for the district courts of the United States and for the courts of the District of Columbia, the forms of process, writs, pleadings, and motions, and the practice and procedure in civil actions at law.”

On the effective date of a validly adopted rule, “all laws in conflict therewith shall be of no further force or effect.”4

Acting on that authority, the Court adopted the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Rules of Civil Procedure for the District Courts of the United States, 308 U.S. 645, 647, 653 ff. (1939).

Among those rules, Fed. R. Civ. P. 73(a) provided:

“When an appeal is permitted by law from a district court to a circuit court of appeals and within the time prescribed, a party may appeal from a judgment by filing with the district court a notice of appeal.”

Id. at 749.

Statutes prescribed many times.

See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 227 (1934)

(30 days for interlocutory injunctions; 15 days for certain interlocutory admiralty orders), 227a (1934) (30 days for final patent infringement decrees), and 230 (1934) (three months for most final judgments and decrees).

Local rules for the District of Columbia required a civil appellant to commence an appeal within 20 days of entry of the appealable judgment.

Hill v. Hawes, 320 U.S. at 521.

Faced with an appellant who missed the deadline because the court clerk neglected to give notice of entry, a district judge vacated and reentered the judgment.

Id. at 521-22.

“It goes without saying that the District Court could not extend the period fixed by [the rule].”

Id. at 523.

But the Court endorsed the reentry procedure by analogy to relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60 from a judgment entered against a party through its mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.

4 The supersession sentence has remained in the Rules Enabling Act of 1934 except for a two-year period.

Pub. L. No. 100-702, title IV, § 401(a), 102 Stat. 4648 (1988); Pub. L. No. 101-650, title III, §§ 315, 321(a)(1), 104 Stat. 5115, 5117 (1990).

Id. at 523-24.

Finality of a civil judgment thus depended on a district judge’s intelligent use of a power to reopen that might be limited only by analogy to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60.

The Court functionally overruled itself by rule amendments.

Amendments to Fed. R. Civ. P., 329 U.S. 839, 866-67, 871-72 (1946);

see Fed. R. Civ. P. 77, advisory committee’s note to 1946 amendment.

By amendment to Fed. R. Civ. P. 77(d), it provided that lack of notice of entry of a judgment did not relieve a party of failing to appeal timely, or authorize a court to do so, “except as permitted in Rule 73(a).”

Id. at 872.

In Rule 73, the Court promulgated the first general time limits to file appeals – the enduring 30/60-day regime.

Amendments, 329 U.S. at 866-67.5

As an exception to the deadlines, it perpetuated but limited the sympathetic response to the losing party who does not receive notice of entry: “upon a showing of excusable neglect based on a failure of a party to learn of the entry of the judgment the district court in any action may extend the time for appeal not exceeding 30 days from the expiration of the original time herein prescribed.”

Amendments, 329 U.S. at 867.

5 “When an appeal is permitted by law from a district court to a circuit court of appeals the time within which an appeal may be taken shall be 30 days from the entry of the judgment appealed from unless a shorter time is provided by law, except that in any action in which the United States or an officer or agency thereof is a party the time as to all parties shall be 60 days from such entry  ”

Congress followed suit, adopting the 30/60-day regime and the limited power of extension when it revised the entire Judicial Code.

6 Pub. L. No. 80-773, 62 Stat. 869 (1948);

28 U.S.C. § 2107 (Supp. II 1948).

The same legislation moved the Rules Enabling Act of 1934 to 28 U.S.C. § 2072 (Supp. II 1948), but retained the limit of authority to rules for district courts.7

In 1966, Congress amended the Rules Enabling Act of 1934 to authorize rules for the courts of appeals.

Pub. L. No. 89-773 § 1, 80 Stat. 1323 (1966).

The Court amended Fed. R. Civ. P. 73(a) to delete the requirement that excusable neglect be based on lack of notice of entry.

Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure, 383 U.S. 1029, 1059-60 (1966).8

The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure arrived in 1967. Fed. R. App P., 389 U.S. 1063, 1067 (1967).

6 “The district court, in any such action, suit or proceeding, may extend the time for appeal not exceeding thirty days from the expiration of the original time herein prescribed, upon a showing of excusible (sic) neglect based on failure of a party to learn of the entry of the judgment, order or decree.”

7 The preceding section authorized all courts “established pursuant to an Act of Congress” to make for themselves rules con- sistent with statute and “rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.” 28 U.S.C. § 2071 (Supp. II 1948). That statute consolidated multi- ple former authorizations. Reviser’s Note, 28 U.S.C. § 2071 (Supp. II 1948).

8 “[U]pon a showing of excusable neglect the district court in any action may extend the time for filing the notice of appeal not exceeding 30 days from the expiration of the original time herein prescribed.  ”

They incorporated the former time limits and excusable neglect extension without material change.9

Rule 4(a), id. at 1071.

In 1979, the Court restructured Rule 4(a) to have subdivisions and introduced the concept of good cause to district courts’ discretion to extend the time to appeal.

Amendments to Fed. R. App. P., 441 U.S. 969, 975 (1979).

Rule 4(a)(5) then provided:

“The district court, upon a showing of excusable neglect or good cause, may extend the time for filing a notice of appeal upon motion filed not later than 30 days after the expiration of the time prescribed by this Rule 4(a).”

Later, it addressed time:

“No such extension shall exceed 30 days past such prescribed time or 10 days from the date of entry of the order granting the motion, whichever occurs later.”

Id. at 975.

Congress in 1991 restructured 28 U.S.C. § 2107 into its current form.

Pub. L. No. 102-198 § 12, 105 Stat. 1627 (1991).

Subsection (c) stated:

9 “Upon a showing of excusable neglect, the district court may extend the time for filing the notice of appeal by any party for a period not to exceed 30 days from the expiration of the time otherwise prescribed by this subdivision. Such an extension may be granted before or after the time otherwise prescribed by this subdivision has expired; but if a request for an extension is made after such time has expired, it shall be made by motion with such notice as the court shall deem appropriate.”

(c) The district court may, upon motion filed not later than 30 days after the expiration of the time otherwise set for bringing appeal, extend the time for appeal upon a showing of excusable neglect or good cause.

In addition, if the district court finds –

(1) that a party entitled to notice of the entry of a judgment or order did not receive such notice from the clerk or any party within 21 days of its entry, and

(2) that no party would be prejudiced, the district court may, upon motion filed within 180 days after entry of the judgment or order or within 7 days after receipt of such notice, whichever is earlier, reopen the time for appeal for a period of 14 days from the date of entry of the order reopening the time for appeal.10

Parallel with the statutory change, the Court added new subdivision (6) to Rule 4(a), identical in material text to the second sentence of 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c).

Amendments to Fed. R. App. P., 500 U.S. 1007, 1011 (1991).

In 1998, the Court introduced lower-level subdivisions to Rule 4(a)(5) without substantive change.

Amendments to Fed. R. App. P., 523 U.S. 1147, 1159-60 (1998).

A 2002 amendment to Rule 4(a)(5)(A)(ii) emphasized the former plain meaning of the text because case law reflected confusion and misunderstanding.

Amendments to Fed. R. App. P., 535 U.S. 1123, 1128 (2002);

Fed. R. App. P. 4, advisory committee’s note to 1998 amendment to subdivision (a)(5)(A)(ii).

A 2009 amendment changed “within 10 days” to “within 14 days.”

Amendments to Fed. R. App. P., 556 U.S. 1291, 1296 (2009).

10 The phrase “within 7 days” later became “within 14 days.” Pub. L. No. 111-16 § 6(3), 123 Stat. 1608 (2009). The only other amendment to the section did not affect subsection (c). Pub. L. No. 112-62 § 3, 125 Stat. 757 (2011).

4.2 Lessons of History.

Extensions of time for excusable neglect derive from a 1944 decision of this Court, Hill v. Hawes, 320 U.S. 520.

As to process, the Court quickly overruled itself in its rule-making role, adopting better means to achieve the same result, Amendments, 329 U.S. at 866- 67, 871-72.11

Authority for extensions comes from a time when dockets were kept in pen and ink, and records could be reviewed only at the courthouse.

But grounds for extensions expanded in 1979 when monitoring dockets was easier. Amendments, 441 U.S. at 975.

And authority for extensions has persisted into the era of electronic filing and PACER.

This history teaches that the Court’s precedent should treat extensions to appeal with the same respect afforded them in rulemaking. The scope of discretionary extensions should not be humbled, eroded, or negated by case law making a rule of convenience jurisdictional.

Legal scholarship should not be required to understand and comply with jurisdictional procedure.

11 Not all courts understand the message. See Zurich Ins. Co.

  1. Wheeler, 838 F.2d 338, 340 (9th Cir. 1988); Washington v. Ryan,

833 F.3d 1087, 1098 (9th Cir. 2016).

Some may ask whether the supersession clause of the Rules Enabling Act of 1934, 28 U.S.C. § 2072(c), should influence this case.

It should not.

If the question were whether Rule 4(a)(5)(C) validly provides a time limit when 28 U.S.C. § 2107 contains none, the Rules Enabling Act would answer it.

But the question is whether the indubitably valid limit has jurisdictional effect or is a claim-processing rule, and the Act does not speak to that question.

Assuming arguendo that Congress can delegate to the Judicial Branch rule-making authority to limit federal jurisdiction, the closest it seems to have approached such a delegation is the rule-making power to define when a judgment is final for purpose of appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 2072(c).

By taking that small step while enacting nothing to authorize jurisdictional rules on the length of an extension to appeal, Congress showed that the Act’s general terms were not intended to make such a delegation.


To preserve both justice and the appearance of justice, the Court should reverse the decision of the Seventh Circuit and remand the case with directions to proceed to briefing on the merits.

Respectfully submitted,

President, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
201 E. Washington Street, Suite 1200
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
(602) 262-5756

Counsel of Record
4655 Executive Drive,
Suite 700
San Diego, California 92121
(619) 236-1414

Counsel for Amicus Curiae
Dated: May 19, 2017

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