Scalia, J., dissenting
ARNOLD F. HOHN, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT
[June 15, 1998]
Justice Scalia, with whom The Chief Justice, Justice O’Connor, and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.
Today’s opinion permits review where Congress, with unmistakable clarity, has denied it. To reach this result, the Court ignores the obvious intent of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. 104—132, 110 Stat. 1214, distorts the meaning of our own jurisdictional statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1254(1), and overrules a 53-year-old precedent, House v. Mayo, 324 U.S. 42 (1945) (per curiam). I respectfully dissent.
This Court’s jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1254(1) is limited to “[c]ases in the courts of appeals.” Section 102 of AEDPA provides that “[u]nless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability, an appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals from . . . the final order in a habeas corpus proceeding under section 2255,” that is, a district court habeas proceeding challenging federal custody. Petitioner, who is challenging federal custody under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 did not obtain a certificate of appealability (COA). By the plain language of AEDPA, his appeal “from” the district court’s “final order” “may not be taken to the court of appeals.” Because it could not be taken to the Court of Appeals, it quite obviously was never in the Court of Appeals; and because it was never in the Court of Appeals, we lack jurisdiction under §1254(1) to entertain it.
The purpose of AEDPA is not obscure. It was to eliminate the interminable delays in the execution of state and federal criminal sentences, and the shameful overloading of our federal criminal justice system, produced by various aspects of this Court’s habeas corpus jurisprudence. And the purpose of the specific provision of AEDPA at issue here is also not obscure: It was designed, in intelligent reliance upon a holding of this Court, to end §2255 litigation in the district court unless a court of appeals judge or the circuit justice finds reasonable basis to appeal. By giving literally unprecedented meaning to the words in two relevant statutes, and overruling the premise of Congress’s enactment, the Court adds new, Byzantine detail to a habeas corpus scheme Congress meant to streamline and simplify. I respectfully dissent.