NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
STEPHANIE C. ARTIS, PETITIONER v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
on writ of certiorari to the district of columbia court of appeals
[January 22, 2018]
Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Supplemental Jurisdiction statute,
28 U. S. C. §1367, enables federal district courts to entertain claims not otherwise within their adjudicatory authority when those claims “are so related to claims . . . within [federal-court competence] that they form part of the same case or controversy.” §1367(a). Included within this supplemental jurisdiction are state claims brought along with federal claims arising from the same episode. When district courts dismiss all claims independently qualifying for the exercise of federal jurisdiction, they ordinarily dismiss as well all related state claims. See §1367(c)(3). A district court may also dismiss the related state claims if there is a good reason to decline jurisdiction. See §1367(c)(1), (2), and (4). This case concerns the time within which state claims so dismissed may be refiled in state court.
Section 1367(d), addressing that issue, provides:
“The period of limitations for any [state] claim [ joined with a claim within federal-court competence] shall be tolled while the claim is pending [in federal court] and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer tolling period.”
The question presented: Does the word “tolled,” as used in §1367(d), mean the state limitations period is suspended during the pendency of the federal suit; or does “tolled” mean that, although the state limitations period continues to run, a plaintiff is accorded a grace period of 30 days to refile in state court post dismissal of the federal case? Petitioner urges the first, or stop-the-clock, reading. Respondent urges, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals adopted, the second, or grace-period, reading.
In the case before us, plaintiff-petitioner Stephanie C. Artis refiled her state-law claims in state court 59 days after dismissal of her federal suit.[1
] Reading §1367(d) as a grace-period prescription, her complaint would be time barred. Reading §1367(d) as stopping the limitations clock during the pendency of the federal-court suit, her complaint would be timely. We hold that §1367(d)’s instruction to “toll” a state limitations period means to hold it in abeyance, i.e.,
to stop the clock. Because the D. C. Court of Appeals held that §1367(d) did not stop the D. C. Code’s limitations clock, but merely provided a 30-day grace period for refiling in D. C. Superior Court, we reverse the D. C. Court of Appeals’ judgment.
Section 1367, which Congress added to Title 28 as part of the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990,
5089, codifies the court-developed pendent and ancillary jurisdiction doctrines under the label “supplemental jurisdiction.” See Exxon Mobil Corp.
v. Allapattah Services, Inc.
545 U. S. 546
–558 (2005) (describing the development of pendent and ancillary jurisdiction doctrines and subsequent enactment of §1367); id.,
at 579–584 (Ginsburg, J., dissenting) (same). The House Report accompanying the Act explains that Congress sought to clarify the scope of federal courts’ authority to hear claims within their supplemental jurisdiction, appreciating that “[s]upplemental jurisdiction has enabled federal courts and litigants to . . . deal economically—in single rather than multiple litigation—with related matters.” H. R. Rep. No. 101–734, p. 28 (1990) (H. R. Rep.). Section 1367(a) provides, in relevant part, that a district court with original jurisdiction over a claim “shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims . . . form[ing] part of the same case or controversy.”
“[N]ot every claim within the same ‘case or controversy’ as the claim within the federal courts’ original jurisdiction will be decided by the federal court.” Jinks
v. Richland County
538 U. S. 456,
. Section 1367(c) states:
“The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if—
“(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
“(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction,
“(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, or
“(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction.”
If a district court declines to exercise jurisdiction over a claim asserted under §1367(a) and the plaintiff wishes to continue pursuing it, she must refile the claim in state court. If the state court would hold the claim time barred, however, then, absent a curative provision, the district court’s dismissal of the state-law claim without prejudice would be tantamount to a dismissal with prejudice. See, e.g., Carnegie-Mellon Univ.
484 U. S. 343,
(under the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction, if the statute of limitations on state-law claims expires before the federal court “relinquish[es] jurisdiction[,] . . . a dismissal will foreclose the plaintiff from litigating his claims”). To prevent that result, §1367(d) supplies “a tolling rule that must be applied by state courts.” Jinks
, 538 U. S., at 459. Section 1367(d) provides:
“The period of limitations for any claim asserted under subsection (a), and for any other claim in the same action that is voluntarily dismissed at the same time as or after the dismissal of the claim under subsection (a), shall be tolled while the claim is pending and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer tolling period.”
This case requires us to determine how §1367(d)’s tolling rule operates.
Petitioner Artis worked as a health inspector for respondent, the District of Columbia (the “District”). In November 2010, Artis was told she would lose her job. Thirteen months later, Artis sued the District in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that she had suffered employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
253, as amended,
42 U. S. C. §2000e et seq.
She also asserted three allied claims under D. C. law: retaliation in violation of the District of Columbia Whistleblower Act, D. C. Code §1–615.54 (2001); termination in violation of the District of Columbia False Claims Act, §2–381.04; and wrongful termination against public policy, a common-law claim. Artis alleged that she had been subjected to gender discrimination by her supervisor, and thereafter encountered retaliation for reporting the supervisor’s unlawful activities. See Artis
v. District of Columbia
, 51 F. Supp. 3d 135, 137 (2014).
On June 27, 2014, the District Court granted the District’s motion for summary judgment on the Title VII claim. Having dismissed Artis’ sole federal claim, the District Court, pursuant to §1367(c)(3), declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her remaining state-law claims. “Artis will not be prejudiced,” the court noted, “because
28 U. S. C. §1367(d) provides for a tolling of the statute of limitations during the period the case was here and for at least 30 days thereafter.” Id.,
Fifty-nine days after the dismissal of her federal action, Artis refiled her state-law claims in the D. C. Superior Court, the appropriate local court. The Superior Court granted the District’s motion to dismiss, holding that Artis’ claims were time barred, because they were filed 29 days too late. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 14a. When Artis first asserted her state-law claims in the District Court, nearly two years remained on the applicable three-year statute of limitations.[2
] But two and a half years passed before the federal court relinquished jurisdiction. Unless §1367(d) paused the limitations clock during that time, Artis would have had only 30 days to refile. The Superior Court rejected Artis’ stop-the-clock reading of §1367(d), reasoning that Artis could have protected her state-law claims by “pursuing [them] in a state court while the federal court proceeding [was] pending.” Ibid.
In tension with that explanation, the court noted that duplicative filings in federal and state court are “generally disfavored . . . as ‘wasteful’ and . . . ‘against [the interests of] judicial efficiency.’ ” Id.,
at 14a, n. 1 (quoting Stevens
v. Arco Management of Wash. D.C., Inc.
, 751 A. 2d 995, 1002 (D. C. 2000);
alteration in original).
The D. C. Court of Appeals affirmed. That court began by observing that two “competing approaches [to §1367(d)] have evolved nationally”: the stop-the-clock reading and the grace-period reading. 135 A. 3d 334, 337 (2016).[3
] Without further comment on §1367(d)’s text, the D. C. Court of Appeals turned to the legislative history. Section 1367(d)’s purpose, the court noted, was “to prevent the loss of claims to statutes of limitations where state law might fail to toll the running of the period of limitations while a supplemental claim was pending in federal court.” Id.,
at 338 (quoting H. R. Rep., at 30; internal quotation marks omitted). Following the lead of the California Supreme Court, the D. C. Court of Appeals determined that Congress had intended to implement a 1969 recommendation by the American Law Institute (ALI) to allow refiling in state court “within 30 days after dismissal.” 135 A. 3d, at 338 (quoting Los Angeles
v. County of Kern
, 59 Cal. 4th 618, 629, 328 P. 3d 56, 63 (2014)).
The D. C. Court of Appeals also concluded that the grace-period approach “better accommodates federalism concerns,” by trenching significantly less on state statutes of limitations than the stop-the-clock approach. 135 A. 3d, at 338–339. Construing §1367(d) as affording only a 30-day grace period, the court commented, was “consistent with [its] presumption favoring narrow interpretations of federal preemption of state law.” Id.,
To resolve the division of opinion among State Supreme Courts on the proper construction of §1367(d), see supra,
at 6, n. 3, we granted certiorari. 580 U. S. ___ (2017).
As just indicated, statutes that shelter from time bars claims earlier commenced in another forum generally employ one of two means.
First, the period (or statute) of limitations may be “tolled” while the claim is pending elsewhere.[4
] Ordinarily, “tolled,” in the context of a time prescription like §1367(d), means that the limitations period is suspended (stops running) while the claim is sub judice
elsewhere, then starts running again when the tolling period ends, picking up where it left off. See
Black’s Law Dictionary 1488 (6th ed. 1990) (“toll,” when paired with the grammatical object “statute of limitations,” means “to suspend or stop temporarily”). This dictionary definition captures the rule generally applied in federal courts. See, e.g., Chardon
v. Fumero Soto
462 U. S. 650,
(Court’s opinion “use[d] the word ‘tolling’ to mean that, during the relevant period, the statute of limitations ceases to run”).[5
] Our decisions employ the terms “toll” and “suspend” interchangeably. For example, in American Pipe & Constr. Co.
414 U.S. 538
, we characterized as a “tolling” prescription a rule “suspend[ing] the applicable statute of limitations,” id.,
at 554; accordingly, we applied the rule to stop the limitations clock, id.,
] We have similarly comprehended what tolling means in decisions on equitable tolling. See, e.g., CTS Corp.
, 573 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 7) (describing equitable tolling as “a doctrine that pauses the running of, or ‘tolls’ a statute of limitations” (some internal quotation marks omitted)); United States
502 U. S. 1,
( per curiam
) (“Principles of equitable tolling usually dictate that when a time bar has been suspended and then begins to run again upon a later event, the time remaining on the clock is calculated by subtracting from the full limitations period whatever time ran before the clock was stopped.”).
In lieu of “tolling” or “suspending” a limitations period by pausing its progression, a legislature might elect sim- ply to provide a grace period. When that mode is adopted, the statute of limitations continues to run while the claim is pending in another forum. But the risk of a time bar is averted by according the plaintiff a fixed period in which to refile. A federal statute of that genre is
28 U. S. C. §2415. That provision prescribes a six-year limitations period for suits seeking money damages from the United States for breach of contract. §2415(a). The statute further provides: “In the event that any action . . . is timely brought and is thereafter dismissed without prejudice, the action may be recommenced within one year after such dismissal, regardless of whether the action would otherwise then be barred by this section.” §2415(e).[7
] Many States have enacted similar grace-period provisions. See App. to Brief for National Conference of State Legislatures et al. as Amici Curiae
1a–25a. For example, Georgia law provides:
“When any case has been commenced in either a state or federal court within the applicable statute of limitations and the plaintiff discontinues or dismisses the same, it may be recommenced in a court of this state or in a federal court either within the original applicable period of limitations or within six months after the discontinuance or dismissal, whichever is later . . . .” Ga. Code Ann. §9–2–61(a) (2007).
Tellingly, the District has not identified any federal statute in which a grace-period meaning has been ascribed to the word “tolled” or any word similarly rooted. Nor has the dissent, for all its mighty strivings, identified even one federal statute that fits its bill, i.e.,
a federal statute that says “tolled” but means something other than “suspended,” or “paused,” or “stopped.” From what statutory text, then, does the dissent start? See post,
Turning from statutory texts to judicial decisions, only once did an opinion of this Court employ tolling language to describe a grace period: Hardin
490 U. S. 536 (1989)
. In Hardin
, we held that, in
42 U. S. C. §1983 suits, federal courts should give effect to state statutes sheltering claims from time bars during periods of a plaintiff’s legal disability. We there characterized a state statute providing a one-year grace period as “tolling” or “suspend[ing]” the limitations period “until one year after the disability has been removed.” 490 U. S., at 537. This atypical use of “tolling” or “suspending” to mean something other than stopping the clock on a limitations period is a feather on the scale against the weight of decisions in which “tolling” a statute of limitations signals stopping the clock.
In determining the meaning of a statutory provision, “we look first to its language, giving the words used their ordinary meaning.” Moskal
v. United States
498 U. S. 103,
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Section 1367(d) is phrased as a tolling provision. It suspends the statute of limitations for two adjacent time periods: while the claim is pending in federal court and for 30 days postdismissal. Artis urges that the phrase “shall be tolled” in §1367(d) has the same meaning it does in the statutes cited supra,
at 7, n. 4. That is, the limitations clock stops the day the claim is filed in federal court and, 30 days postdismissal, restarts from the point at which it had stopped.
The District reads “tolled” for §1367(d)’s purposes differently. To “toll,” the District urges, means to “remove or take away an effect.” Brief for Respondent 12–13. To “toll” a limitations period, then, would mean to “remov[e] the bar that ordinarily would accompany its expiration.” Id.,
] “[T]here is nothing special,” the District maintains, “about tolling limitations periods versus tolling any other fact, right, or consequence.” Id.,
at 13. But the District offers no reason why, in interpreting “tolled” as used in §1367(d), we should home in only on the word itself, ignoring the information about the verb’s ordinary meaning gained from its grammatical object. Just as when the object of “tolled” is “bell” or “highway traveler,” the object “period of limitations” sheds light on what it means to “be tolled.”
The District’s reading, largely embraced by the dissent, is problematic for other reasons as well. First, it tenders a strained interpretation of the phrase “period of limitations.” In the District’s view, “period of limitations” means “the effect of the period of limitations as a time bar.” See id.
, at 18 (“Section 1367(d) . . . provides that ‘the period of limitations’—here its effect as a time bar—‘shall be [removed or taken away] while the claim is pending [in federal court] and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed.’ ” (alterations in original)). Second, the first portion of the tolling period, the duration of the claim’s pendency in federal court, becomes superfluous under the District’s construction. The “effect” of the limitations period as a time bar, on the District’s reading, becomes operative only after the case has been dismissed. That being so, what need would there be to remove anything while the claim is pending in federal court?
Furthermore, the District’s reading could yield an absurdity: It could permit a plaintiff to refile in state court even if the limitations period on her claim had expired before she filed in federal court. To avoid that result, the District’s proposed construction of “tolled” as “removed” could not mean simply “removed.” Instead, “removed” would require qualification to express “removed, unless the period of limitations expired before the claim was filed in federal court.” In sum, the District’s interpretation maps poorly onto the language of §1367(d), while Artis’ interpretation is a natural fit.
The D. C. Court of Appeals adopted the District’s grace-period construction primarily because it was convinced that in drafting §1367(d), Congress embraced an ALI recommendation. 135 A. 3d, at 338. Two decades before the enactment of §1367(d), the ALI, in its 1969 Study of the Division of Jurisdiction Between State and Federal Courts, did recommend a 30-day grace period for refiling certain claims. The ALI proposed the following statutory language:
“If any claim in an action timely commenced in a federal court is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim, a new action on the same claim brought in another court shall not be barred by a statute of limitations that would not have barred the original action had it been commenced in that court, if such new action is brought in a proper court, federal or State, within thirty days after dismissal of the original claim has become final or within such longer period as may be available under applicable State law.” ALI, Study of the Division of Jurisdiction Between State and Federal Courts §1386(b), p. 65 (1969) (ALI Study).
Congress, however, did not adopt the ALI’s grace-period formulation. Instead, it ordered tolling of the state limitations period “while the claim is pending” in federal court. Although the provision the ALI proposed, like §1367(d), established a 30-day federal floor on the time allowed for refiling, it did not provide for tolling the period of limitations while a claim is pending.[10
] True, the House Report contained a citation to the ALI Study, but only in reference to a different provision,
28 U. S. C. §1391 (the general venue statute). There, Congress noted that its approach was “taken from the ALI Study.” H. R. Rep., at 23. Had Congress similarly embraced the ALI’s grace-period formulation in §1367(d), one might expect the House Report to have said as much.[11
The District asks us to zero in on §1367(d)’s “express inclusion” of the “period of 30 days after the claim is dismissed” within the tolling period. Brief for Respondent 20 (internal quotation marks omitted). Under Artis’ stop-the-clock interpretation, the District contends, “the inclusion of 30 days within the tolling period would be relegated to insignificance in the mine-run of cases.” Id.
, at 21 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). In §1367(d), Congress did provide for tolling not only while the claim is pending in federal court, but also for 30 days thereafter. Including the 30 days within §1367(d)’s tolling period accounts for cases in which a federal action is commenced close to the expiration date of the relevant state statute of limitations. In such a case, the added days give the plaintiff breathing space to refile in state court.
Adding a brief span of days to the tolling period is not unusual in stop-the-clock statutes. In this respect, §1367(d) closely resembles
46 U. S. C. §53911, which provides, in a subsection titled “Tolling of limitations period,” that if a plaintiff submits a claim for war-related vessel damage to the Secretary of Transportation, “the running of the limitations period for bringing a civil action is suspended until the Secretary denies the claim, and for 60 days thereafter.” §53911(d). Numerous other statutes similarly append a fixed number of days to an initial tolling period. See, e.g.,
22 U. S. C. §1631k(c) (“Statutes of limitations on assessments . . . shall be suspended with respect to any vested property . . . while vested and for six months thereafter. . . .”);
26 U. S. C. §6213(f )(1) (“In any case under title 11 of the United States Code, the running of the time prescribed by subsection (a) for filing a petition in the Tax Court with respect to any deficiency shall be suspended for the period during which the debtor is prohibited by reason of such case from filing a petition in the Tax Court with respect to such deficiency, and for 60 days thereafter.”); §6503(a)(1) (“The running of the period of limitations provided in section 6501 or 6502 . . . shall . . . be suspended for the period during which the Secretary is prohibited from making the assessment . . . and for 60 days thereafter.”);
50 U. S. C. §4000(c) (“The running of a statute of limitations against the collection of tax deferred under this section . . . shall be suspended for the period of military service of the servicemember and for an addi- tional period of 270 days thereafter.”). Thus, the “30 days” provision casts no large shadow on Artis’ interpretation.
Section 1367(d)’s proviso, “unless State law provides for a longer tolling period,” could similarly aid a plaintiff who filed in federal court just short of the expiration of the state limitations period. She would have the benefit of §1367(d)’s 30-days-to-refile prescription, or such longer time as state law prescribes.[12
] It may be that, in most cases, the state-law tolling period will not be longer than §1367(d)’s. But in some cases it undoubtedly will. For example, Indiana permits a plaintiff to refile within three years of dismissal. See Ind. Code §34–11–8–1 (2017). And Louisiana provides that after dismissal the limitations period “runs anew.” La. Civ. Code Ann., Arts. 3462, 3466 (West 2007).
Satisfied that Artis’ text-based arguments overwhelm the District’s, we turn to the District’s contention that the stop-the-clock interpretation of §1367(d) raises a significant constitutional question: Does the statute exceed Congress’ authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause, Art. I, §8, cl. 18, because its connection to Congress’ enumerated powers is too attenuated or because it is too great an incursion on the States’ domain? Brief for Respondent 46–49. To avoid constitutional doubt, the District urges, we should adopt its reading. “[W]here an alternative interpretation of [a] statute is fairly possible,” the District reminds, we have construed legislation in a manner that “avoid[s] [serious constitutional] problems” raised by “an otherwise acceptable construction.” INS
v. St. Cyr
533 U. S. 289
–300 (2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). But even if we regarded the District’s reading of §1367(d) as “fairly possible,” our precedent would undermine the proposition that §1367(d) presents a serious constitutional problem. See Jinks,
538 U. S., at 461–465.
, we unanimously rejected an argument that §1367(d) impermissibly exceeds Congress’ enumerated powers.[13
] Section 1367(d), we held, “is necessary and proper for carrying into execution Congress’s power ‘[t]o constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court,’ . . . and to assure that those tribunals may fairly and effi- ciently exercise ‘[t]he judicial Power of the United States.’ ” Id.,
at 462 (quoting U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 9, and Art. III, §1).
In two principal ways, we explained, §1367(d) is “conducive to the due administration of justice in federal court.” 538 U. S., at 462 (internal quotation marks omitted). First, “it provides an alternative to the unsatisfactory options that federal judges faced when they decided whether to retain jurisdiction over supplemental state-law claims that might be time barred in state court.” Ibid.
Section 1367(d) thus “unquestionably promotes fair and efficient operation of the federal courts.” Id.,
at 463. Second, §1367(d) “eliminates a serious impediment to access to the federal courts on the part of plaintiffs pursuing federal- and state-law claims” arising from the same episode. Ibid.
With tolling available, a plaintiff disinclined to litigate simultaneously in two forums is no longer impelled to choose between forgoing either her federal claims or her state claims.
Moreover, we were persuaded that §1367(d) was “plainly adapted” to Congress’ exercise of its enumerated power: there was no cause to suspect that Congress had enacted §1367(d) as a “ ‘pretext’ for ‘the accomplishment of objects not entrusted to [it],’ ”; nor was there reason to believe that the connection between §1367(d) and Congress’ authority over the federal courts was too attenuated. Id.,
at 464 (quoting McCulloch
, 4 Wheat. 316, 423 (1819)).
Our decision in Jinks
also rejected the argument that §1367(d) was not “proper” because it violates principles of state sovereignty by prescribing a procedural rule for state courts’ adjudication of purely state-law claims. 538 U. S., at 464–465. “Assuming [without deciding] that a principled dichotomy can be drawn, for purposes of determining whether an Act of Congress is ‘proper,’ between federal laws that regulate state-court ‘procedure’ and laws that change the ‘substance’ of state-law rights of action,” we concluded that the tolling of state limitations periods “falls on the [permissible] ‘substantive’ side of the line.” Ibid.
The District’s contention that a stop-the-clock prescription serves “no federal purpose” that could not be served by a grace-period prescription is unavailing. Brief for Respondent 49. Both devices are standard, off-the-shelf means of accounting for the fact that a claim was timely pressed in another forum. Requiring Congress to choose one over the other would impose a tighter constraint on Congress’ discretion than we have ever countenanced.
The concern that a stop-the-clock prescription entails a greater imposition on the States than a grace-period prescription, moreover, may be more theoretical than real. Consider the alternative suggested by the D. C. Superior Court. Plaintiffs situated as Artis was could simply file two actions and ask the state court to hold the suit filed there in abeyance pending disposition of the federal suit. See supra,
at 6. Were the dissent’s position to prevail, cautious plaintiffs would surely take up the D. C. Superior Court’s suggestion. How it genuinely advances federalism concerns to drive plaintiffs to resort to wasteful, inefficient duplication to preserve their state-law claims is far from apparent. See, e.g., Stevens
, 751 A. 2d, at 1002 (it “work[s] against judicial efficiency . . . to compel prudent federal litigants who present state claims to file duplicative and wasteful protective suits in state court”).
We do not gainsay that statutes of limitations are “fundamental to a well-ordered judicial system.” Board of Regents of Univ. of State of N. Y.
446 U. S. 478,
. We note in this regard, however, that a stop-the-clock rule is suited to the primary purposes of limitations statutes: “preventing surprises” to defendants and “barring a plaintiff who has slept on his rights.” American Pipe & Constr. Co.
414 U. S. 538,
(internal quotation marks omitted). Whenever §1367(d) applies, the defendant will have notice of the plaintiff’s claims within the state-prescribed limitations period. Likewise, the plaintiff will not have slept on her rights. She will have timely asserted those rights, endeavoring to pursue them in one litigation.
* * *
For the reasons stated, we resist unsettling the usual understanding of the word “tolled” as it appears in legislative time prescriptions and court decisions thereon. The judgment of the D. C. Court of Appeals is therefore reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.