Marx v. General Revenue Corp., 568 U.S. (2013) - Case Law - VLEX 425476446

Marx v. General Revenue Corp., 568 U.S. (2013)

Ponente:Associate Justice Clarence Thomas
Docket Number:11-1175
CONTENT

(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2012 NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as isbeing done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has beenprepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. 1

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FORTHE TENTH CIRCUIT No. 11-1175. Argued November 7, 2012-Decided February 26, 2013 Petitioner Marx filed suit, alleging that General Revenue Corporation(GRC) violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) byharassing and falsely threatening her in order to collect on a debt.The District Court ruled against Marx and awarded GRC costs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 54(d)(1), which givesdistrict courts discretion to award costs to prevailing defendants"[u]nless a federal statute . . . provides otherwise." Marx sought tovacate the award, arguing that the court's discretion under Rule54(d)(1) was displaced by 15 U. S. C. §1692k(a)(3), which provides, inpertinent part, that "[o]n a finding by the court that an action underthis section was brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the court may award to the defendant attorney's fees reasonable in relation to the work expended and costs." The District Courtrejected Marx's argument. The Tenth Circuit affirmed, in pertinentpart, agreeing that costs are allowed under the Rule and concludingthat nothing in the statute's text, history, or purpose indicates that itwas meant to displace the Rule. Held: Section §1692k(a)(3) is not contrary to, and, thus, does not displace a district court's discretion to award costs under, Rule 54(d)(1).Pp. 4-16.

(a) Rule 54(d)(1) gives courts discretion to award costs to prevailingparties, but this discretion can be displaced by a federal statute orFRCP that "provides otherwise," i.e., is "contrary" to Rule 54(d)(1).Contrary to the argument of Marx and the United States, as amicus,language of the original 1937 version of the Rule does not suggestthat any "express provision" for costs should displace Rule 54(d)(1),regardless of whether it is contrary to the Rule. Pp. 4-7.

(b) Section 1692k(a)(3)'s language and context demonstrate that 2 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. the provision is not contrary to Rule 54(d)(1). Pp. 7-15.

(1) GRC argues that since §1692k(a)(3) does not address whethercosts may be awarded in an FDCPA case brought in good faith, itdoes not set forth a standard that is contrary to the Rule and therefore does not displace the presumption that a court has discretion toaward costs. Marx and the United States concede that the statutedoes not expressly limit a court's discretion to award costs under theRule, but argue that it does so by negative implication. They claimthat unless §1692k(a)(3) sets forth the exclusive basis on which toaward costs, the phrase "and costs" would be superfluous with Rule54(d)(1). And the United States also argues that §1692k(a)(3)'s morespecific cost statute displaces Rule 54(d)(1)'s more general rule.Pp. 7-9.

(2) The argument of Marx and the United States depends critically on whether §1692k(a)(3)'s allowance of costs creates a negativeimplication that costs are unavailable in any other circumstances.The expressio unius canon that they invoke does not apply "unless itis fair to suppose that Congress considered the unnamed possibilityand meant to say no to it," Barnhart v. Peabody Coal Co., 537 U. S.149, 168, and can be overcome by "contrary indications that adoptinga particular rule or statute was probably not meant to signal any exclusion," United States v. Vonn, 535 U. S. 55, 65. Here, context indicates that Congress did not intend §1692k(a)(3) to foreclose courtsfrom awarding costs under the Rule. First, under the American Rule,each litigant generally pays his own attorney's fees, but the Courthas long recognized that federal courts have inherent power to awardattorney's fees in a narrow set of circumstances, e.g., when a partybrings an action in bad faith. The statute is thus best read as codifying a court's pre-existing authority to award both attorney's fees andcosts. Next, §1692k(a)(3)'s second sentence must be understood inlight of its first, which provides an award of attorney's fees and costs,but to prevailing plaintiffs. By adding "and costs" to the second sentence, Congress foreclosed the argument that defendants can only recover attorney's fees when plaintiffs bring an action in bad faith andremoved any doubt that defendants may recover costs as well as attorney's fees in such cases. Finally, §1692k(a)(3)'s language sharplycontrasts with that of other statutes in which Congress has placedconditions on awarding costs to prevailing defendants. See, e.g., 28

U. S. C. §1928. Pp. 9-12.

(3) Even assuming that their surplusage argument is correct, thecanon against surplusage is not absolute. First, the canon "assistsonly where a competing interpretation gives effect to every clauseand word of a statute." Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. Partnership, 564

U. S. ___, ___. Here, no interpretation of §1692k(a)(3) gives effect to

every word. Second, redundancy is not unusual in statutes addressing costs. See, e.g., 12 U. S. C. §2607(d)(5). Finally, the canon isstrongest when an interpretation would render superfluous anotherpart of the same statutory scheme. Because §1692k(a)(3) is not partof Rule 54(d)(1), the force of this canon is diminished. Pp. 13-14.

(4) Lastly, contrary to the United States' claim that specific cost-shifting standards displace general ones, the context of the statuteindicates that Congress was simply confirming the background presumption that courts may award to defendants attorney's fees andcosts when the plaintiff brings an action in bad faith. Because Marxdid not bring this suit in bad faith, the specific provision is not applicable. Pp. 14-15. 668 F. 3d 1174, affirmed. THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,

C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and ALITO, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KAGAN, J., joined. 3 1 Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in thepreliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested tonotify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in orderthat corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES _________________ _________________

OLIVEA MARX, PETITIONER v. GENERAL REVENUECORPORATION ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT [February 26, 2013]

JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the opinion of the Court.Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) gives districtcourts discretion to award costs to prevailing defendants"[u]nless a federal statute . . . provides otherwise." TheFair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 91 Stat. 881,

15 U. S. C. §1692k(a)(3), provides that "[o]n a finding bythe court that an action under this section was broughtin bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the courtmay award to the defendant attorney's fees reasonable inrelation to the work expended and costs." This case presents the question whether §1692k(a)(3) "provides otherwise" than Rule 54(d)(1). We conclude that §1692k(a)(3)does not "provid[e] otherwise," and thus a district courtmay award costs to prevailing defendants in FDCPA caseswithout finding that the plaintiff brought the case in badfaith and for the purpose of harassment

I

Petitioner Olivea Marx defaulted on a student loanguaranteed by EdFund, a division of the California Student Aid Commission. In September 2008, EdFund hiredrespondent General Revenue Corporation (GRC) to collect 2 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court the debt. One month later, Marx filed an FDCPA enforcement action against GRC.1 Marx alleged that GRChad violated the FDCPA by harassing her with phone callsseveral times a day and falsely threatening to garnish upto 50% of her wages and to take the money she oweddirectly from her bank account. Shortly after the complaint was filed, GRC made an offer of judgment underFederal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 to pay Marx $1,500,plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs, to settle anyclaims she had against it. Marx did not respond to theoffer. She subsequently amended her complaint to adda claim that GRC unlawfully sent a fax to her workplacethat requested information about her employment status. Following a 1-day bench trial, the District Court foundthat Marx had failed to prove any violation of the FDCPA.As the prevailing party, GRC submitted a bill of costsseeking $7,779.16 in witness fees, witness travel expenses,and deposition transcript fees. The court disallowed several items of costs and, pursuant to Federal Rule of CivilProcedure 54(d)(1), ordered Marx to pay GRC $4,543.03.Marx filed a motion to vacate the award of costs, arguingthat the court lacked authority to award costs under Rules54(d)(1) and 68(d) because 15 U. S. C. §1692k(a)(3) setsforth the exclusive basis for awarding costs in FDCPAcases.2 Section 1692k(a)(3) provides, in relevant part: "On ------ 1 The FDCPA is a consumer protection statute that prohibits certainabusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. See 15 U. S. C.§1692. The FDCPA's private-enforcement provision, §1692k, authorizes any aggrieved person to recover damages from "any debt collectorwho fails to comply with any provision" of the FDCPA. §1692k(a). 2 Under Rule 68(d), if a defendant makes a settlement offer, and theplaintiff rejects it and later obtains a judgment that is less favorablethan the one offered her, the plaintiff must pay the costs incurred bythe defendant after the offer was made. See Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 68(d)("If the judgment that the offeree finally obtains is not more favorablethan the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred afterthe offer was made"). Opinion of the Court a finding by the court that an action under this sectionwas brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the court may award to the defendant attorney'sfees reasonable in relation to the work expended and costs."Marx argued that because the court had not found thatshe brought the case in bad faith and for the purposeof harassment, GRC was not entitled to costs. The District Court rejected Marx's argument, concluding that§1692k(a)(3) does not displace a court's discretion to awardcosts under Rule 54(d)(1) and that costs should also beawarded under Rule 68(d). The Tenth Circuit affirmed but agreed only with partof the District Court's reasoning. In particular, the courtdisagreed that costs were allowed under Rule 68(d). 668

F. 3d 1174, 1182 (2011). It explained that "Rule 68 appliesonly where the district court enters judgment in favor ofa plaintiff " for less than the amount of the settlement offerand not where the plaintiff loses outright. Ibid. (citingDelta Air Lines, Inc. v. August, 450 U. S. 346, 352 (1981)).Because the District Court had not entered judgment infavor of Marx, the court concluded that costs were notallowed under Rule 68(d). 668 F. 3d, at 1182. Nevertheless, the court found that costs were allowed under Rule54(d)(1), which grants district courts discretion to awardcosts to prevailing parties unless a federal statute or theFederal Rules of Civil Procedure provide otherwise. Id., at1178, 1182. After describing the "venerable" presumptionthat prevailing parties are entitled to costs, id., at 1179,the court concluded that nothing in the text, history, orpurpose of §1692k(a)(3) indicated that it was meant todisplace Rule 54(d)(1), id., at 1178-1182. Judge Lucerodissented, arguing that "[t]he only sensible reading of[§1692k(a)(3)] is that the district court may only awardcosts to a defendant" upon finding that the action wasbrought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassmentand that to read it otherwise rendered the phrase "and

3 4 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court costs" superfluous. Id., at 1187 (emphasis in original). We granted certiorari, 566 U. S. ___ (2012), to resolve aconflict among the Circuits regarding whether a prevailingdefendant in an FDCPA case may be awarded costs wherethe lawsuit was not brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment. Compare 668 F. 3d, at 1182 (casebelow), with Rouse v. Law Offices of Rory Clark, 603 F. 3d699, 701 (CA9 2010). We now affirm the judgment of theTenth Circuit

II

As in all statutory construction cases, we " 'assum[e]that the ordinary meaning of [the statutory] languageaccurately expresses the legislative purpose.'" Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 560 U. S. ___, ___ (2010)(slip op., at 8) (quoting Gross v. FBL Financial Services,Inc., 557 U. S. 167, 175 (2009) (alteration in original)). Inthis case, we must construe both Rule 54(d)(1) and§1692k(a)(3) and assess the relationship between them

A

Rule 54(d)(1) is straightforward. It provides, in relevantpart: "Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailing party." As the Tenth Circuit correctly recognized, Rule 54(d)(1)codifies a venerable presumption that prevailing partiesare entitled to costs.3 Notwithstanding this presumption, ------ 3 Prior to the adoption of the federal rules, prevailing parties wereentitled to costs as of right in actions at law while courts had discretionto award costs in equity proceedings. See Ex parte Peterson, 253 U. S.300, 317-318 (1920) ("While in equity proceedings the allowance andimposition of costs is, unless controlled by statute or rule of court, amatter of discretion, it has been uniformly held that in actions at lawthe prevailing party is entitled to costs as of right, except in those fewcases where by express statutory provision or by established principlescosts are denied" (citation omitted)); Mansfield, C. & L. M. R. Co. v. Opinion of the Court the word "should" makes clear that the decision whetherto award costs ultimately lies within the sound discretionof the district court. See Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan,Ltd., 566 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip op., at 4) ("FederalRule of Civil Procedure 54(d) gives courts the discretionto award costs to prevailing parties"). Rule 54(d)(1) alsomakes clear, however, that this discretion can be displacedby a federal statute or a Federal Rule of Civil Procedurethat "provides otherwise." A statute "provides otherwise" than Rule 54(d)(1) if it is"contrary" to the Rule. See 10 J. Moore, Moore's FederalPractice §54.101[1][c], p. 54-159 (3d ed. 2012) (hereinafter

10 Moore's). Because the Rule grants district courts discretion to award costs, a statute is contrary to the Rule ifit limits that discretion. A statute may limit a court's discretion in several ways, and it need not expressly statethat it is displacing Rule 54(d)(1) to do so. For instance,a statute providing that "plaintiffs shall not be liable forcosts" is contrary to Rule 54(d)(1) because it precludes acourt from awarding costs to prevailing defendants. See,e.g., 7 U. S. C. §18(d)(1) ("The petitioner shall not be liablefor costs in the district court"). Similarly, a statute providing that plaintiffs may recover costs only under certainconditions is contrary to Rule 54(d) because it precludes acourt from awarding costs to prevailing plaintiffs whenthose conditions have not been satisfied. See, e.g., 28

U. S. C. §1928 ("[N]o costs shall be included in such judgment, unless the proper disclaimer has been filed in theUnited States Patent and Trademark Office").Importantly, not all statutes that provide for costs arecontrary to Rule 54(d)(1). A statute providing that "thecourt may award costs to the prevailing party," for exam-------Swan, 111 U. S. 379, 387 (1884) ("[B]y the long established practice anduniversally recognized rule of the common law, in actions at law, theprevailing party is entitled to recover a judgment for costs . . . ").5 6 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court ple, is not contrary to the Rule because it does not limit acourt's discretion. See 10 Moore's §54.101[1][c], at 54-159("A number of statutes state simply that the court mayaward costs in its discretion. Such a provision is not contrary to Rule 54(d)(1) and does not displace the court'sdiscretion under the Rule"). Marx and the United States as amicus curiae suggestthat any statute that specifically provides for costs displaces Rule 54(d)(1), regardless of whether it is contrary tothe Rule. Brief for Petitioner 17; Brief for United Statesas Amicus Curiae 11-12 (hereinafter Brief for UnitedStates). The United States relies on the original 1937version of Rule 54(d)(1), which provided, " 'Except whenexpress provision therefor is made either in a statute ofthe United States or in these rules, costs shall be allowedas of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs.' " Id., at 12 (quoting Rule). Though theRules Committee updated the language of Rule 54(d)(1) in2007, the change was "stylistic only." Advisory Commit-tee's Notes, 28 U. S. C. App., p. 734 (2006 ed., Supp. V).Accordingly, the United States asserts that any "expressprovision" for costs should displace Rule 54(d)(1).We are not persuaded, however, that the original version of Rule 54(d) should be interpreted as Marx and theUnited States suggest. The original language was meantto ensure that Rule 54(d) did not displace existing costsprovisions that were contrary to the Rule. Under the priorlanguage, statutes that simply permitted a court to awardcosts did not displace the Rule. See 6 J. Moore, Moore'sFederal Practice §54.71[1], p. 54-304 (2d ed. 1996)("[W]hen permissive language is used [in a statute regarding costs] the district court may, pursuant to Rule 54(d),exercise a sound discretion relative to the allowance ofcosts"). Rather, statutes had to set forth a standard forawarding costs that was different from Rule 54(d)(1) inorder to displace the Rule. See Friedman v. Ganassi, 853 Opinion of the Court F. 2d 207, 210 (CA3 1988) (holding that 15 U. S. C. §77k(e)is not an "express provision" under Rule 54(d) because itdoes not provide an "alternative standard" for awardingtaxable costs). The original version of Rule 54(d) is consistent with our conclusion that a statute must be contraryto Rule 54(d)(1) in order to displace it.4 B

We now turn to whether §1692k(a)(3) is contrary to Rule54(d)(1). The language of §1692k(a)(3) and the contextsurrounding it persuade us that it is not. 1

The second sentence of §1692k(a)(3) provides: "On afinding by the court that an action under this section was ------ 4 The dissent provides no stable definition of "provides otherwise."First, it argues that a statute "provides otherwise" if it is "different"from Rule 54(d)(1). Post, at 2 (opinion of SOTOMAYOR, J.). That interpretation renders the Rule meaningless because every statute is "different" insofar as it is not an exact copy of the Rule. Next, it arguesthat a statute "provides otherwise" if it is an " 'express provision'relating to costs." Post, at 2-3. Under that view, a statute providingthat "the court may award costs to the prevailing party" would "provideotherwise." We do not think such a statute provides otherwise-itprovides "same-wise," and the treatise on which the dissent reliessupports our view. See 10 C. Wright, A. Miller, & M. Kane, FederalPractice and Procedure §2670, p. 258 (3d ed. 1998 and Supp. 2012)("[Statutes that] are permissive in character . . . are not inconsistentwith the discretion given the district court by Rule 54(d)"). Finally,the dissent seems to implicitly accept that "otherwise" means "to thecontrary" in the course of arguing that a doctor's instruction to takemedication " 'in the morning' " would supersede an instruction on themedication label to " 'take [it] twice a day unless otherwise directed,' "because the patient would understand the doctor's advice to mean thathe should take the medicine "once a day, each morning." Post, at 4. Ifthe patient understands the doctor to mean "once a day, each morning,"we agree that such advice would "provide otherwise," because thedoctor's order would be "contrary" to the label's instruction. For thereasons set forth in Part II-B, however, we are not convinced that§1692k(a)(3) is "contrary" to Rule 54(d)(1). 7 8 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment,the court may award to the defendant attorney's feesreasonable in relation to the work expended and costs."5 GRC contends that the statute does not address whethercosts may be awarded in this case-where the plaintiffbrought the case in good faith-and thus it does not setforth a standard for awarding costs that is contrary toRule 54(d)(1). In its view, Congress intended §1692k(a)(3)to deter plaintiffs from bringing nuisance lawsuits. It,therefore, expressly provided that when plaintiffs bring anaction in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, thecourt may award attorney's fees and costs to the defendant. The statute does address this type of case-i.e., casesin which the plaintiff brings the action in bad faith andfor the purpose of harassment. But it is silent where badfaith and purpose of harassment are absent, and silencedoes not displace the background rule that a court hasdiscretion to award costs. Marx and the United States take the contrary view.They concede that the language does not expressly limita court's discretion to award costs under Rule 54(d)(1),Brief for Petitioner 10; Brief for United States 19, butargue that it does so by negative implication. Invoking theexpressio unius canon of statutory construction, theycontend that by specifying that a court may award attorney's fees and costs when an action is brought in bad faithand for the purpose of harassment, Congress intended topreclude a court from awarding fees and costs when badfaith and purpose of harassment are absent. They furtherargue that unless §1692k(a)(3) sets forth the exclusive ------ 5 It is undisputed that GRC is not entitled to costs under §1692k(a)(3)because the District Court did not find that Marx brought this action inbad faith. But Rule 54(d)(1) independently authorizes district courts toaward costs to prevailing parties. The question in this case is notwhether costs are allowed under §1692k(a)(3) but whether §1692k(a)(3)precludes an award of costs under Rule 54(d)(1). Opinion of the Court basis on which a court may award costs, the phrase "andcosts" would be superfluous. According to this argument,Congress would have had no reason to specify that a courtmay award costs when a plaintiff brings an action inbad faith if it could have nevertheless awarded costs underRule 54(d)(1). Finally, the United States argues that§1692k(a)(3) is a more specific cost statute that displacesRule 54(d)(1)'s more general rule.The context surrounding §1692k(a)(3) persuades us thatGRC's interpretation is correct. 2

The argument of Marx and the United States dependscritically on whether §1692k(a)(3)'s allowance of costscreates a negative implication that costs are unavailablein any other circumstances. The force of any negativeimplication, however, depends on context. We have longheld that the expressio unius canon does not apply "unlessit is fair to suppose that Congress considered the unnamedpossibility and meant to say no to it," Barnhart v. PeabodyCoal Co., 537 U. S. 149, 168 (2003), and that the canoncan be overcome by "contrary indications that adopting aparticular rule or statute was probably not meant to signalany exclusion," United States v. Vonn, 535 U. S. 55, 65(2002). In this case, context persuades us that Congressdid not intend §1692k(a)(3) to foreclose courts from awarding costs under Rule 54(d)(1).First, the background presumptions governing attorney'sfees and costs are a highly relevant contextual feature.As already explained, under Rule 54(d)(1) a prevailingparty is entitled to recover costs from the losing partyunless a federal statute, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or a court order "provides otherwise." The oppositepresumption exists with respect to attorney's fees. Underthe "bedrock principle known as the ' "American Rule," ' ""[e]ach litigant pays his own attorney's fees, win or lose, 9 10 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court unless a statute or contract provides otherwise." Hardt,560 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 9) (quoting Ruckelshaus v.Sierra Club, 463 U. S. 680, 683 (1983)). Notwithstandingthe American Rule, however, we have long recognized thatfederal courts have inherent power to award attorney'sfees in a narrow set of circumstances, including when aparty brings an action in bad faith. See Chambers v.NASCO, Inc., 501 U. S. 32, 45-46 (1991) (explaining thata court has inherent power to award attorney's fees to aparty whose litigation efforts directly benefit others, tosanction the willful disobedience of a court order, and tosanction a party who has acted in bad faith, vexatiously,wantonly, or for oppressive reasons); Alyeska PipelineService Co. v. Wilderness Society, 421 U. S. 240, 257-259(1975) (same).It is undisputed that §1692k(a)(3) leaves the background rules for attorney's fees intact. The statute provides that when the plaintiff brings an action in badfaith, the court may award attorney's fees to the defendant.But, as noted, a court has inherent power to award feesbased on a litigant's bad faith even without §1692k(a)(3).See Chambers, supra, at 45-46. Because §1692k(a)(3)codifies the background rule for attorney's fees, it is dubious to infer congressional intent to override the background rule with respect to costs. The statute is best readas codifying a court's pre-existing authority to award bothattorney's fees and costs.6 Next, the second sentence of §1692k(a)(3) must be understood in light of the sentence that precedes it.7 The ------ 6 Indeed, had Congress intended §1692k(a)(3) to foreclose a court'sdiscretion to award costs, it could not have chosen a more circuitousway to do so. The statute sets forth the circumstances in which a court"may" award costs. But under Marx's and the United States' view, theonly consequence of the statute is to set forth the circumstances inwhich it may not award costs. 7 Section 1692k(a) provides: Opinion of the Court first sentence of §1692k(a)(3) provides that defendantswho violate the FDCPA are liable for the plaintiff 's attorney's fees and costs. The second sentence of §1692k(a)(3)similarly provides that plaintiffs who bring an action inbad faith and for the purpose of harassment may be liablefor the defendant's fees and costs. If Congress had excluded "and costs" in the second sentence, plaintiffs might have argued that the expression ofcosts in the first sentence and the exclusion of costs inthe second meant that defendants could only recoverattorney's fees when plaintiffs bring an action in bad faith.By adding "and costs" to the second sentence, Congressforeclosed that argument, thereby removing any doubtthat defendants may recover costs as well as attorney'sfees when plaintiffs bring suits in bad faith. See Ali v.Federal Bureau of Prisons, 552 U. S. 214, 226 (2008) (explaining that a phrase is not superfluous if used to "remove . . . doubt" about an issue); Fort Stewart Schools v.FLRA, 495 U. S. 641, 646 (1990) (explaining that "technically unnecessary" examples may have been "inserted out ------ "Except as otherwise provided by this section, any debt collector whofails to comply with any provision of this subchapter with respect toany person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the sum of-"(1) any actual damages sustained by such person as a result of suchfailure; "(2)(A) in the case of any action by an individual, such additionaldamages as the court may allow, but not exceeding $1,000; or "(B) in the case of a class action, (i) such amount for each namedplaintiff as could be recovered under subparagraph (A), and (ii) suchamount as the court may allow for all other class members, withoutregard to a minimum individual recovery, not to exceed the lesser of$500,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the debt collector; and "(3) in the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoingliability, the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney'sfee as determined by the court. On a finding by the court that an actionunder this section was brought in bad faith and for the purpose ofharassment, the court may award to the defendant attorney's feesreasonable in relation to the work expended and costs." 11 12 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court of an abundance of caution"). The fact that there mighthave been a negative implication that costs are precluded,depending on whether Congress included or excluded thephrase "and costs," weighs against giving effect to anyimplied limitation. Finally, the language in §1692k(a)(3) sharply contrastswith other statutes in which Congress has placed conditions on awarding costs to prevailing defendants. See, e.g.,

28 U. S. C. §1928 ("[N]o costs shall be included in suchjudgment, unless the proper disclaimer has been filed inthe United States Patent and Trademark Office prior tothe commencement of the action" (emphasis added)); 42

U. S. C. §1988(b) ("[I]n any action brought against a judicial officer . . . such officer shall not be held liable for anycosts . . . unless such action was clearly in excess of suchofficer's jurisdiction" (emphasis added)).Although Congress need not use explicit language tolimit a court's discretion under Rule 54(d)(1), its use ofexplicit language in other statutes cautions against inferring a limitation in §1692k(a)(3). These statutes confirmthat Congress knows how to limit a court's discretionunder Rule 54(d)(1) when it so desires. See Small v. UnitedStates, 544 U. S. 385, 398 (2005) (THOMAS, J., dissenting) (explaining that "Congress' explicit use of [language]in other provisions shows that it specifies such restrictionswhen it wants to do so"). Had Congress intended thesecond sentence of §1692k(a)(3) to displace Rule 54(d)(1),it could have easily done so by using the word "only" before setting forth the condition "[o]n a finding by the courtthat an action . . . was brought in bad faith and for thepurpose of harassment . . . ."8 ------ 8 Marx also suggests that §1692k(a)(3) is similar to the PipelineSafety Act, 49 U. S. C. §60121(b), which provides: "The court may awardcosts to a prevailing defendant when the action is unreasonable, frivolous, or meritless." We have never had occasion to interpret §60121(b)and its interaction with Rule 54(d)(1). Opinion of the Court 3

As the above discussion suggests, we also are not persuaded by Marx's objection that our interpretation rendersthe phrase "and costs" superfluous. As noted, supra, at 11,the phrase "and costs" would not be superfluous if Congress included it to remove doubt that defendants mayrecover costs when plaintiffs bring suits in bad faith. Buteven assuming that our interpretation renders the phrase"and costs" superfluous, that would not alter our conclusion. The canon against surplusage is not an absoluterule, see Arlington Central School Dist. Bd. of Ed. v. Murphy, 548 U. S. 291, 299, n. 1 (2006) ("While it is generallypresumed that statutes do not contain surplusage, instances of surplusage are not unknown"); Connecticut Nat.Bank v. Germain, 503 U. S. 249, 253 (1992) ("Redundancies across statutes are not unusual events in drafting

. . . "), and it has considerably less force in this case. First, the canon against surplusage "assists only wherea competing interpretation gives effect to every clause andword of a statute." Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. Partnership,564 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 12) (internal quotation marks omitted). But, in this case, no interpretation of§1692k(a)(3) gives effect to every word. Both Marx andthe United States admit that a court has inherent powerto award attorney's fees to a defendant when the plaintiffbrings an action in bad faith. Because there was, consequently, no need for Congress to specify that courts havethis power, §1692k(a)(3) is superfluous insofar as it addresses attorney's fees. In light of this redundancy, we arenot overly concerned that the reference to costs may beredundant as well. Second, redundancy is "hardly unusual" in statutesaddressing costs. See id., at ___ (slip op., at 13). Numerous statutes overlap with Rule 54(d)(1). See, e.g., 12

U. S. C. §2607(d)(5) ("[T]he court may award to the prevailing party the court costs of the action"); §5565(b) (2006 13 14 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court ed., Supp. V) ("the [Consumer Financial Protection] Bureau . . . may recover its costs in connection with prosecuting such action if [it] . . . is the prevailing party in theaction"); 15 U. S. C. §6104(d) (2006 ed.) ("The court . . .may award costs of suit and reasonable fees for attorneysand expert witnesses to the prevailing party"); §7706(f )(4)("In the case of any successful action . . . the court, in itsdiscretion, may award the costs of the action"); §7805(b)(3)("[T]he court may award to the prevailing party costs");§8131(2) (2006 ed., Supp. V) ("The court may also, in itsdiscretion, award costs and attorneys fees to the prevailing party"); 29 U. S. C. §431(c) (2006 ed.) ("The court . . .may, in its discretion . . . allow a reasonable attorney's feeto be paid by the defendant, and costs of the action"); 42

U. S. C. §3612(p) ("[T]he court . . . in its discretion, mayallow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's feeand costs"); §3613(c)(2) ("[T]he court, in its discretion, mayallow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's feeand costs"); 47 U. S. C. §551(f)(2) ("[T]he court may award

. . . other litigation costs reasonably incurred"). Finally, the canon against surplusage is strongest whenan interpretation would render superfluous another partof the same statutory scheme. Cf. United States v. Jicarilla Apache Nation, 564 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at

22) (" 'As our cases have noted in the past, we are hesitantto adopt an interpretation of a congressional enactmentwhich renders superfluous another portion of that samelaw' " (quoting Mackey v. Lanier Collection Agency &Service, Inc., 486 U. S. 825, 837 (1988))). Because§1692k(a)(3) is not part of Rule 54(d)(1), the force of thiscanon is diminished. 4

Lastly, the United States contends that §1692k(a)(3)"establishes explicit cost-shifting standards that displaceRule 54(d)(1)'s more general default standard." Brief for Opinion of the Court United States 17; see also EC Term of Years Trust v.United States, 550 U. S. 429, 433 (2007) (" '[A] preciselydrawn, detailed statute pre-empts more general remedies' " (quoting Brown v. GSA, 425 U. S. 820, 834 (1976))).Were we to accept the argument that §1692k(a)(3) has anegative implication, this argument might be persuasive.But the context of §1692k(a)(3) indicates that Congresswas simply confirming the background rule that courtsmay award to defendants attorney's fees and costs whenthe plaintiff brings an action in bad faith. The statutespeaks to one type of case-the case of the bad-faith andharassing plaintiff. Because Marx did not bring this suitin bad faith, this case does not "fal[l] within the ambit ofthe more specific provision." Brief for United States 13;see also RadLAX Gateway Hotel, LLC v. AmalgamatedBank, 566 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip op., at 9) ("When theconduct at issue falls within the scope of both provisions,the specific presumptively governs . . ." (emphasis in original)).9 Accordingly, this canon is inapplicable

III

Because we conclude that the second sentence of§1692k(a)(3) is not contrary to Rule 54(d)(1), and, thus, ------ 9 Marx, the United States, and GRC also spar over the purpose of§1692k(a)(3). Brief for Petitioner 14-16; Brief for United States 21-28;Reply Brief 11-14; Brief for Respondent 30-43. Marx and the UnitedStates contend that Congress intended to limit a court's discretion toaward costs to prevailing defendants because FDCPA plaintiffs areoften poor and may be deterred from challenging unlawful debt collection practices by the possibility of being held liable for the defendant'scosts. This purposive argument cannot overcome the language andcontext of §1692k(a)(3), but even if it could, we find it unpersuasive.Rule 54(d)(1) does not require courts to award costs to prevailingdefendants. District courts may appropriately consider an FDCPAplaintiff's indigency in deciding whether to award costs. See Badillo v.Central Steel & Wire Co., 717 F. 2d 1160, 1165 (CA7 1983) ("[I]t iswithin the discretion of the district court to consider a plaintiff's indigency in denying costs under Rule 54(d)"). 15 16 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. Opinion of the Court does not displace a district court's discretion to awardcosts under the Rule, we need not address GRC's alternative argument that costs were required under Rule 68. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed. It is so ordered. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting 1 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES _________________ _________________

OLIVEA MARX, PETITIONER v. GENERAL REVENUECORPORATION ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT [February 26, 2013] JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE KAGAN joins,dissenting. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) is a defaultstandard that grants district courts discretion to awardlitigation costs to a prevailing party. This default, however, gives way when a federal statute includes a costsprovision that "provides otherwise." The Fair Debt CollectionPractices Act (FDCPA), 91 Stat. 874, 15 U. S. C. §1692et seq., contains a costs provision, §1692k(a)(3), and it"provides otherwise." That is apparent from the statute'splain language, which limits a court's discretion to awardcosts to prevailing defendants to cases "brought in badfaith and for the purpose of harassment." In reaching theopposite conclusion, the Court ignores the plain meaningof both the FDCPA and Rule 54(d)(1) and renders thestatutory language at issue in this case meaningless. Irespectfully dissent

I

The majority correctly recognizes, see ante, at 4, thefundamental principle of statutory construction that webegin "with the language of the statute itself." UnitedStates v. Ron Pair Enterprises, Inc., 489 U. S. 235, 241(1989); Ingalls Shipbuilding, Inc. v. Director, Office ofWorkers' Compensation Programs, 519 U. S. 248, 255 2 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting (1997); Caminetti v. United States, 242 U. S. 470, 485(1917). We presume that Congress "means in a statutewhat it says there," Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain,503 U. S. 249, 254 (1992), and "where . . . the statute'slanguage is plain, the sole function of the courts is toenforce it according to its terms." Ron Pair, 489 U. S., at241 (internal quotation marks omitted). This basic tenetis the appropriate starting point for interpreting both Rule54(d)(1) and §1692k(a)(3). After invoking this principle,however, the majority casts it aside entirely in interpreting the statute and the Rule

A

Rule 54(d)(1) states, as relevant here, that "[u]nless afederal statute . . . provides otherwise, costs-other thanattorney's fees-should be allowed to the prevailingparty." The first question is what it means for a statuteto "provid[e] otherwise" than Rule 54(d)(1). Because the phrase "provides otherwise" is not definedin the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, we look to itsordinary meaning. Asgrow Seed Co. v. Winterboer, 513

U. S. 179, 187 (1995). In common usage, to "provide otherwise" means to "make a . . . stipulation" that is "differ-en[t]." Webster's Third New International Dictionary1598, 1827 (2002) (Webster's Third) (defining "provide"and "otherwise," respectively); see Random House Dictionary of the English Language 1372, 1556 (2d ed. 1987)(Random House) ("to arrange for or stipulate" "[i]n anothermanner"); 10 Oxford English Dictionary 984 (2d ed. 1989)(Oxford Dictionary); 12 id., at 713 ("to stipulate" "[i]nanother way . . . ; in a different manner"). This reading ofthe plain text is confirmed by the original 1937 codification of the Rule, which made clear that any "express provision" relating to costs in a statute is sufficient to displace SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting 3 the default.1 Accordingly, to displace Rule 54(d)(1), a federal statuteneed only address costs in a way different from, but notnecessarily inconsistent with, the default.2 The reason isstraightforward. If Congress has enacted a provision withrespect to costs in a statute, there is no longer any needfor the default, so it gives way. This design of the Rule issensible, because many statutes contain specific costsprovisions. 10 Moore's Federal Practice §54.101[1][c], p.54-160 (3d ed. 2012) (noting that such statutes "are fartoo numerous to list comprehensively"). Rule 54(d)(1) istherefore consistent with the canon of statutory interpretation that "a precisely drawn, detailed statute pre-emptsmore general remedies." Hinck v. United States, 550 U. S.501, 506 (2007); Crawford Fitting Co. v. J. T. Gibbons,Inc., 482 U. S. 437, 445 (1987); United States v. Erika,Inc., 456 U. S. 201, 208 (1982).While purporting to interpret the "ordinary meaning" ofRule 54(d)(1), ante, at 4, the majority immediately abandons the ordinary meaning. The majority concludes that astatute provides otherwise for purposes of Rule 54(d)(1)only if it is "contrary" to the default. Ante, at 5. But the ------ 1 The original codification of the Rule provided that "[e]xcept whenexpress provision therefor is made either in a statute of the UnitedStates or in these rules, costs shall be allowed as of course to theprevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Ante, at 6 (quotingthe Rule; emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted). Thelanguage in the Rule was later revised to its current form in 2007, butas the majority acknowledges, the Rules Committee indicated thechanges were " 'stylistic only.' " Ibid. (quoting Advisory Committee'sNotes, 28 U. S. C. App., p. 734 (2006 ed., Supp. V)). 2 See 10 C. Wright, A. Miller, & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure §2665, p. 200 (3d ed. 1998 and Supp. 2012) (hereinafter Wright &Miller) (Rule 54 "provides that ordinarily the prevailing party shall beallowed costs other than attorney's fees unless . . . some other provisionfor costs is made by a federal statute or the civil rules" (emphasisadded)). 4 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting majority does not cite even a single dictionary definitionin support of that reading, despite the oft-cited principlethat a definition widely reflected in dictionaries generallygoverns over other possible meanings.3 Lacking any dictionary support for its interpretation, the majority reliesinstead upon a treatise published nearly 60 years after theRule's adoption. See ante, 6-7 (citing 6 J. Moore, Moore'sFederal Practice, p. 54-304 (2d ed. 1996))."Otherwise" means "different." Webster's Third 1518;see supra, at 2-3. The majority's preferred term of art,"contrary," sets a higher bar; it signifies "the opposite,"or "a proposition, fact, or condition incompatible with another." Webster's Third 495 (emphasis added). See alsoAmerican Heritage Dictionary of the English Language399 (5th ed. 2011) ("Opposed, as in character or purpose");

3 Oxford Dictionary 844 ("Opposed in nature or tendency;diametrically different, extremely unlike"); Random House442 ("[O]pposite in nature or character; diametrically ormutually opposed").Indeed, the majority's reading does not square with theeveryday meaning of "otherwise." Consider, for example, amedication labeled with the instruction, "take twice a dayunless otherwise directed." If a doctor advises her patientto take the medicine "in the morning," the patient wouldunderstand her to mean that he should take the medicineonce a day, each morning. Although the instruction totake the medication in the morning is not incompatiblewith taking it twice a day-it could be taken in the evening as well-an ordinary English speaker would interpret"otherwise" to mean that the doctor's more specific in------- 3 See, e.g., MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. American Telephone &Telegraph Co., 512 U. S. 218, 225 (1994) (opinion for the Court bySCALIA, J.) (rejecting the argument that an alternative definition shouldcontrol the meaning of "modify" where "[v]irtually every dictionary weare aware of says that 'to modify' means to change moderately or inminor fashion"). SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting structions entirely supersede what is printed on the bottle.Rule 54(d)(1) is just the same: Its default is supplantedwhenever Congress provides more specific instructions,not only when they are diametrically opposed to it. B 1

Thus, the straightforward question in this case iswhether §1692k(a)(3) implements a "different" standardwith respect to costs than Rule 54(d)(1), and so "providesotherwise." As relevant, §1692k(a)(3) states: "On a findingby the court that an action under this section was broughtin bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the courtmay award to the defendant attorney's fees reasonable inrelation to the work expended and costs." It is readily apparent that this provision is differentfrom the default of Rule 54(d)(1). In §1692k(a)(3), Congress described with specificity a single circumstance inwhich costs may be awarded. Far from merely restating adistrict court's discretion to award costs, this provisionimposes a prerequisite to the exercise of that discretion: afinding by the court that an action was brought in badfaith and for the purpose of harassment. Because the text is plain, there is no need to proceedany further. Even so, relevant canons of statutory interpretation lend added support to reading §1692k(a)(3) ashaving a negative implication. That reading accords withthe expressio unius, exclusio alterius canon, which instructs that when Congress includes one possibility in astatute, it excludes another by implication. See Chevron

U. S. A. Inc. v. Echazabal, 536 U. S. 73, 80-81 (2002).This rule reinforces what the text makes clear. By limiting a court's discretion to award costs to cases brought inbad faith or for the purpose of harassment, Congress 5 6 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting foreclosed the award of costs in other circumstances.4 Petitioner's interpretation of the statute is also stronglyfavored by the rule that statutes should be read to avoidsuperfluity. Under this "most basic of interpretativecanons, . . . ' "[a] statute should be constructed so thateffect is given to all of its provisions, so that no part will beinoperative or superfluous, void or insignificant." ' " Corley

v. United States, 556 U. S. 303, 314 (2009) (quoting Hibbs

v. Winn, 542 U. S. 88, 101 (2004)). Respondent's reading,as it mostly acknowledges, renders the entire sentencemeaningless because it reiterates powers that federalcourts already possess with respect to both costs andattorney's fees. See Brief for Respondent 22-24. The majority rejects this argument, citing the rule thatthis canon " 'assists only where a competing interpretationgives effect to every clause and word of a statute.' " Ante,at 13 (quoting Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. Partnership, 564

U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 12)). In its view, neitherof the available interpretations can eliminate superfluitybecause the attorney's fees provision is redundant underany reading. Ante, at 13. But the canon against superfluity surely counsels against an interpretation that rendersthe entire provision at issue superfluous when a competing interpretation would at least render part of the provision meaningful. Nor does the majority's observation thatredundancy is " 'hardly unusual,' " ante, at 14, in provisions relating to costs make the canon inapplicable. While ------ 4 The majority suggests that this canon does not apply to §1692k(a)(3)because it only aids where " 'it is fair to suppose that Congress considered the unnamed possibility and meant to say no to it.' " Ante, at 9(quoting Barnhart v. Peabody Coal Co., 537 U. S. 149, 168 (2003)). Thebest evidence of congressional intent, however, is the statutory textthat Congress enacted. West Virginia Univ. Hospitals, Inc. v. Casey,499 U. S. 83, 98 (1991). And here, the plain language of §1692k(a)(3)makes it clear that Congress meant to foreclose other possible meanings. See supra, at 5. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting Congress sometimes drafts redundant language withrespect to costs, Congress did not do so in §1692(a)(3).5 Instead, it drafted specific language that permits a courtto award costs only on the satisfaction of a condition. Interpreting §1692k(1)(3) as having a negative implication is consistent with our construction of another statutethat includes similar language. In Cooper Industries, Inc.

v. Aviall Services, Inc., 543 U. S. 157, 166 (2004) (opinionfor the Court by THOMAS, J.), we considered a provision inthe Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, 42 U. S. C. §9613(f)(1) thatprovided: "[a]ny person may seek contribution . . . during

. . . any civil action under section 9606 of this title" (emphasis added). We rejected the argument that the word"may" indicated that "during a civil action" was one butnot the exclusive circumstance in which the right of contribution was available. 543 U. S., at 166. We insteadadopted the natural reading of the text, holding that aparty's ability to seek contribution was limited by thephrase "during any civil action" and that contribution wasonly available while a lawsuit is pending. Ibid. The samelogic applies here, because §1692k(a)(3) imposes a closelyanalogous condition on a court's discretion to award costs. 2

The first sentence of §1692k(a)(3) underscores thatCongress implemented a different rule than Rule 54(d)(1).That sentence provides that a debt collector who violatesthe FDCPA is "liable to" a prevailing plaintiff for "the ------ 5 See, e.g., 15 U. S. C. § 6104(d) (Telemarketing and Consumer Fraudand Abuse Prevention Act) ("The court . . . may award costs of suit andreasonable fees for attorneys and expert witnesses to the prevailingparty"); 42 U. S. C. §3613(c)(2) (Fair Housing Act) ("In a civil action . . .the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee and costs"); see also 28 U. S. C. §1332(b) (failure torecover jurisdictional amount). 7 8 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney'sfee as determined by the court." This sentence makes alosing defendant always liable for the "costs of the action,"which is a clear departure from the Rule 54(d)(1) discretionary default. Cf. Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd.,566 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip op., at 4). Because Congressdeviated from Rule 54(d)(1) in the first sentence of§1692k(a)(3), the most reasonable reading is that thesentence that immediately follows, which states the rulefor prevailing defendants, takes a similar path.The majority believes that its reading of the costs provision follows from the first sentence as well, but for a different reason. Ante, at 11-12. It suggests that if Congresshad not included costs in the second sentence, a plaintiffmight have been able to argue that the inclusion of costsin the first sentence and the exclusion of costs in thesecond indicated that defendants could recover only feeswhen an action is brought in bad faith. The majority thenspeculates that Congress included costs in the secondsentence to foreclose that argument. The text of the previous sentence makes plain, however,that the second sentence departs from the Rule 54(d)(1)default, and the majority offers no evidence in support ofits supposition that Congress intended a different meaning.6 Moreover, I see no basis for invoking potential con------- 6 The majority does not explain why its speculation about legislativeintent is more persuasive than the Solicitor General's view that saddling potential plaintiffs with costs would undermine the FDCPA's" 'calibrated scheme' " of enforcement. Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 10 (quoting Jerman v. Carlisle, McNellie, Rini, Kramer &Ulrich, L. P. A., 559 U. S. 573, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 29)). Under theSolicitor General's interpretation, because the recoveries in these casesare not certain to be large, consumers may be deterred from bringingFDCPA claims if they are faced with the risk of paying costs. See Brieffor United States 21-28. This outcome would thwart Congress'sexpectation that the FDCPA was to be primarily enforced by consumers. Ibid. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting fusion or indulging in speculation to explain away thewords Congress chose. Ante, at 11-12. Some Members ofthe majority have expressed doubt about the relevance oflegislative history, claiming that relying upon it is analogous to "entering a crowded cocktail party and looking . . .for one's friends." Conroy v. Aniskoff, 507 U. S. 511, 519(1993) (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment). But speculating whole cloth about congressional intent, as the majoritydoes, is surely more problematic. The majority is savedthe trouble of having to look for its friends at the party; itsimply invites them

II

Reduced to its essence, the majority's analysis turns onreading §1692k(a)(3) in the context of what it calls the"venerable presumption" that prevailing parties are entitled to costs. See ante, at 4. Even if it were appropriate toconsider a background presumption rather than readingthe plain text at issue, the majority's characterization ofthe presumption is at best incomplete.First, the Court's suggestion that the presumptionregarding costs is a "venerable" one in American law is anoverstatement. Ibid. It is true, as the majority points out,that prior to the federal rules, "prevailing parties wereentitled to costs as of right in actions at law while courtshad discretion to award costs in equity proceedings." Ante,at 4, n. 3; see Wright & Miller §2665, at 199. But thedoctrine governing costs at law carved out an importantexception for statutory provisions that set forth a different rule.7 Where there was such a statute, courts would ------ 7 See Ex parte Peterson, 253 U. S. 300, 318 (1920) ("[I]n actions at lawthe prevailing party is entitled to costs as of right . . . , except in thosefew cases where by express statutory provision or established principlescosts are denied" (emphasis added)); see also United States v. Treadwell, 15 F. 532, 534 (SDNY 1883) ("[T]he prevailing party shall beentitled to costs in all cases, unless otherwise expressly provided by law" 9 10 MARX v. GENERAL REVENUE CORP. SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting simply apply it. In its assessment of the background principles underlying its approach, the majority glosses over thelongstanding expectation that Congress often enacts different rules with respect to costs, and when it does, theserules govern.Second, Rule 54(d)(1) embraces this long-recognizedexception because it specifies that a statute can displaceits default rule. To repeat, Rule 54(d)(1) merely enacts adefault standard that applies unless, among other things,a statute or rule "provides otherwise." Here, for the reasons explained, Congress enacted exactly such a statute.That is clear from the text, because §1692k(a)(3) conditions the award of costs on the satisfaction of a condition,and because the previous sentence of the same provisionbreaks from the default. * * *

The plain text of Rule 54(d)(1) and §1692k(a)(3) dictatesthe result in this case. Accordingly, I would reverse theTenth Circuit and hold that §1692k(a)(3) "provides otherwise" than Rule 54(d)(1), such that a district court cannotaward costs to a prevailing defendant in an FDCPA actionexcept upon a showing that the action was brought in badfaith and for the purpose of harassment. I respectfullydissent. ------ (emphasis added, internal quotation marks omitted)); Payne, Costs inCommon Law Actions in the Federal Courts, 21 Va. L. Rev. 397, 430(1934) ("By reason of the numerous changes in the acts of Congressrespecting costs, many of the older cases are not now safe precedents.Care should be exercised, therefore, to make an intelligent use of thecases decided prior to the enactment of various statutes").