The Supreme Court recently decided Bowles v. Russell—perhaps that Term’s most underrated case—which characterized the time to file a civil notice of appeal as jurisdictional and therefore not subject to equitable excuses for noncompliance. In so holding, the Court overstated the supporting precedent, inflated the jurisdictional importance of statutes, and undermined an important recent movement to clarify when a rule is jurisdictional and when it is not. This did not have to be. The Court missed a golden opportunity to chart a middle course—holding the rule mandatory but nonjurisdictional—that would have been more consistent with precedent while resolving the case on its narrowest grounds. This Article explains where Bowles went wrong, what it should have done, and how it may affect future questions on the jurisdictionality of rules and limits.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2008

Publication Information

43 Tulsa Law Review 631-650 (2008)