Granfinanciera v. Nordberg/Opinion of the Court

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The question presented is whether a person who has not submitted a claim against a bankruptcy estate has a right to a jury trial when sued by the trustee in bankruptcy to recover an allegedly fraudulent monetary transfer. We hold that the Seventh Amendment entitles such a person to a trial by jury, notwithstanding Congress' designation of fraudulent conveyance actions as "core proceedings" in 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(H) (1982 ed., Supp. V).

* The Chase & Sanborn Corporation filed a petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in 1983. A plan of reorganization approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida vested in respondent Nordberg, the trustee in bankruptcy, causes of action for fraudulent conveyances. App. to Pet. for Cert. 37. In 1985, respondent filed suit against petitioners Granfinanciera, S.A., and Medex, Ltda., in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The complaint alleged that petitioners had received $1.7 million from Chase & Sanborn's corporate predecessor within one year of the date its bankruptcy petition was filed, without receiving consideration or reasonably equivalent value in return. Id., at 39-40. Respondent sought to avoid what he alleged were constructively and actually fraudulent transfers and to recover damages, costs, expenses, and interest under 11 U.S.C. §§ 548(a)(1) and (a)(2), 550(a)(1) (1982 ed. and Supp. V). App. to Pet. for Cert. 41.

The District Court referred the proceedings to the Bankruptcy Court. Over five months later, and shortly before the Colombian Government nationalized Granfinanciera, respondent served a summons on petitioners in Bogota, Colombia. In their answer to the complaint following Granfinanciera's nationalization, both petitioners requested a "trial by jury on all issues so triable." App. 7. The Bankruptcy Judge denied petitioners' request for a jury trial, deeming a suit to recover a fraudulent transfer "a core action that originally, under the English common law, as I understand it, was a non-jury issue." App. to Pet. for Cert. 34. Following a bench trial, the court dismissed with prejudice respondent's actual fraud claim but entered judgment for respondent on the constructive fraud claim in the amount of $1,500,000 against Granfinanciera and $180,000 against Medex. Id., at 24-30. The District Court affirmed without discussing petitioners' claim that they were entitled to a jury trial. Id., at 18-23.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit also affirmed. 835 F.2d 1341 (1988). The court found that petitioners lacked a statutory right to a jury trial, because the constructive fraud provision under which suit was brought-11 U.S.C. § 548(a)(2) (1982 ed., Supp. V)-contains no mention of a right to a jury trial, and 28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V) "affords jury trials only in personal injury or wrongful death sui s." 835 F.2d, at 1348. The Court of Appeals further ruled that the Seventh Amendment supplied no right to a jury trial, because actions to recover fraudulent conveyances are equitable in nature, even when a plaintiff seeks only monetary relief, id., at 1348-1349, and because "bankruptcy itself is equitable in nature and thus bankruptcy proceedings are inherently equitable." Id., at 1349. The court read our opinion in Katchen v. Landy, 382 U.S. 323, 86 S.Ct. 467, 15 L.Ed.2d 391 (1966), to say that "Congress may convert a creditor's legal right into an equitable claim and displace any seventh amendment right to trial by jury," and held that Congress had done so by designating fraudulent conveyance actions "core proceedings" triable by bankruptcy judges sitting without juries. 835 F.2d, at 1349.

We granted certiorari to decide whether petitioners were entitled to a jury trial, 486 U.S. 1054, 108 S.Ct. 2818, 100 L.Ed.2d 920 (1988), and now reverse.

Before considering petitioners' claim to a jury trial, we must confront a preliminary argument. Respondent contends that the judgment below should be affirmed with respect to Granfinanciera-though not Medex-because Granfinanciera was a commercial instrumentality of the Colombian Government when it made its request for a jury trial. Respondent argues that the Seventh Amendment preserves only those jury trial rights recognized in England at common law in the late 18th century, and that foreign sovereigns and their instrumentalities were immune from suit at common law. Suits against foreign sovereigns are only possible, respondent asserts, in accordance with the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1602-1611, and respondent reads § 1330(a) [1] to prohibit trial by jury of a case against a foreign state. Respondent concludes that Granfinanciera has no right to a jury trial, regardless of the merits of Medex's Seventh Amendment claim.

We decline to address this argument because respondent failed to raise it below and because the question it poses has not been adequately briefed and argued. Without cross-petitioning for certiorari, a prevailing party may, of course, "defend its judgment on any ground properly raised below whether or not that ground was relied upon, rejected, or even considered by the District Court or the Court of Appeals," Washington v. Yakima Indian Nation, 439 U.S. 463, 476, n. 20, 99 S.Ct. 740, 749, n. 20, 58 L.Ed.2d 740 (1979), provided that an affirmance on the alternative ground would neither expand nor contract the rights of either party established by the judgment below. See, e.g., Blum v. Bacon, 457 U.S. 132, 137, n. 5, 102 S.Ct. 2355, 2359, n. 5, 72 L.Ed.2d 728 (1982); United States v. New York Telephone Co., 434 U.S. 159, 166, n. 8, 98 S.Ct. 364, 369, n. 8, 54 L.Ed.2d 376 (1977). Respondent's present defense of the judgment, however, is not one he advanced below. [2] Although "we could consider grounds supporting [the] judgment different from those on which the Court of Appeals rested its decision," "where the ground presented here has not been raised below we exercise this authority 'only in exceptional cases.' " Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 468-469, n. 12, 103 S.Ct. 1952, 1958, n. 12, 76 L.Ed.2d 66 (1983), quoting McGoldrick v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 309 U.S. 430, 434, 60 S.Ct. 670, 672, 84 L.Ed. 849 (1940).

This is not such an exceptional case. Not only do we lack guidance from the District Court or the Court of Appeals on this issue, but difficult questions remain whether a jury trial is available to a foreign state upon request under 28 U.S.C. § 1330 and, if not, under what circumstances a business enterprise that has since become an arm of a foreign state may be entitled to a jury trial. Compare Gould, Inc. v. Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann, 853 F.2d 445, 450 (CA6 1988) (jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1330 determined by party's status when act complained of occurred); Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of N.Y. v. Republic of Palau, 639 F.Supp. 706, 712-716 (S.D.N.Y.1986) (status at time complaint was filed is decisive for § 1330 jurisdiction), with Callejo v. Bancomer, S.A., 764 F.2d 1101, 1106-1107 (CA5 1985) (FSIA applies even though bank was nationalized after suit was filed); Wolf v. Banco National de Mexico, S.A., 739 F.2d 1458, 1460 (CA9 1984) (same), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1108, 105 S.Ct. 784, 83 L.Ed.2d 778 (1985). Moreover, petitioners alleged in their reply brief, without contradiction by respondent at oral argument, that affirmance on the ground that respondent now urges would "unquestionably enlarge the respondent's rights under the circuit court's decision and concomitantly decrease those of the petitioner" by "open[ing] up new areas of discovery in aid of execution" and by allowing respondent, for the first time, to recover any judgment he wins against Granfinanciera from Colombia's central banking institutions and possibly those of other Colombian governmental instrumentalities. Reply Brief for Petitioners 19. Whatever the merits of these claims, their plausibility, coupled with respondent's failure to offer rebuttal, furnishes an additional reason not to consider respondent's novel argument in support of the judgment at this late stage in the litigation. We therefore leave for another day the questions respondent's argument raises under the FSIA.

Petitioners rest their claim to a jury trial on the Seventh Amendment alone. [3] The Seventh Amendment provides: "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. . . ." We have consistently interpreted the phrase "Suits at common law" to refer to "suits in which legal rights were to be ascertained and determined, in contradistinction to those where equitable rights alone were recognized, and equitable remedies were administered." Parsons v. Bedford, 3 Pet. 433, 447, 7 L.Ed. 732 (1830). Although "the thrust of the Amendment was to preserve the right to jury trial as it existed in 1791," the Seventh Amendment also applies to actions brought to enforce statutory rights that are analogous to common-law causes of action ordinarily decided in English law courts in the late 18th century, as opposed to hose customarily heard by courts of equity or admiralty. Curtis v. Loether, 415 U.S. 189, 193, 94 S.Ct. 1005, 1007, 39 L.Ed.2d 260 (1974).

The form of our analysis is familiar. "First, we compare the statutory action to 18th-century actions brought in the courts of England prior to the merger of the courts of law and equity. Second, we examine the remedy sought and determine whether it is legal or equitable in nature." Tull v. United States, 481 U.S. 412, 417-418, 107 S.Ct. 1831, 1835, 95 L.Ed.2d 365 (1987) (citations omitted). The second stage of this analysis is more important than the first. Id., at 421, 107 S.Ct., at 1837. If, on balance, these two factors indicate that a party is entitled to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment, we must decide whether Congress may assign and has assigned resolution of the relevant claim to a non-Article III adjudicative body that does not use a jury as factfinder. [4]

* There is no dispute that actions to recover preferential or fraudulent transfers were often brought at law in late 18th-century England. As we noted in Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., 287 U.S. 92, 94, 53 S.Ct. 50, 51, 77 L.Ed. 185 (1932) (footnote omitted): "In England, long prior to the enactment of our first Judiciary Act, common law actions of trover and money had and received were resorted to for the recovery of preferential payments by bankrupts." See, e.g., Smith v. Payne, 6 T.R. 152, 101 Eng.Rep. 484 (K.B.1795) (trover); Barnes v. Freeland, 6 T.R. 80, 101 Eng.Rep. 447 (K.B.1794) (trover); Smith v. Hodson, 4 T.R. 211, 100 Eng.Rep. 979 (K.B.1791) (assumpsit; goods sold and delivered); Vernon v. Hanson, 2 T.R. 287, 100 Eng.Rep. 156 (K.B.1788) (assumpsit; money had and received); Thompson v. Freeman, 1 T.R. 155, 99 Eng.Rep. 1026 (K.B.1786) (trover); Rust v. Cooper, 2 Cowp. 629, 98 Eng.Rep. 1277 (K.B.1777) (trover); Harman v. Fishar, 1 Cowp. 117, 98 Eng.Rep. 998 (K.B.1774) (trover); Martin v. Pewtress, 4 Burr. 2477, 98 Eng.Rep. 299 (K.B.1769) (trover); Alderson v. Temple, 4 Burr. 2235, 98 Eng.Rep. 165 (K.B.1768) (trover). These actions, like all suits at law, were conducted before juries.

Respondent does not challenge this proposition or even contend that actions to recover fraudulent conveyances or preferential transfers were more than occasionally tried in courts of equity. He asserts only that courts of equity had concurrent jurisdiction with courts of law over fraudulent conveyance actions. Brief for Respondent 37-38. While respondent's assertion that courts of equity sometimes provided relief in fraudulent conveyance actions is true, however, it hardly suffices to undermine petitioners' submission that the present action for monetary relief would not have sounded in equity 200 years ago in England. In Parsons v. Bedford, supra, 3 Pet., at 447 (emphasis added), we contrasted suits at law with "those where equitable rights alone were recognized" in holding that the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial applies to all but the latter actions. Respondent adduces no authority to buttress the claim that suits to recover an allegedly fraudulent transfer of money, of the sort that he has brought, were typically or indeed ever entertained by English courts of equity when the Seventh Amendment was adopted. In fact, prior decisions of this Court, see, e.g., Buzard v. Houston, 119 U.S. 347, 352-353, 7 S.Ct. 249, 252-253, 30 L.Ed. 451 (1886), and scholarly authority compel the contrary conclusion:

"[W]hether the trustee's suit should be at law or in equity is to be judged by the same standards that are applied to any other owner of property which is wrongfully withheld. If the subject matter is a chatte , and is still in the grantee's possession, an action in trover or replevin would be the trustee's remedy; and if the fraudulent transfer was of cash, the trustee's action would be for money had and received. Such actions at law are as available to the trustee to-day as they were in the English courts of long ago. If, on the other hand, the subject matter is land or an intangible, or the trustee needs equitable aid for an accounting or the like, he may invoke the equitable process, and that also is beyond dispute." 1 G. Glenn, Fraudulent Conveyances and Preferences § 98, pp. 183-184 (rev. ed. 1940) (footnotes omitted).

The two cases respondent discusses confirm this account of English practice. Ex parte Scudamore, 3 Ves.jun. 85, 30 Eng.Rep. 907 (Ch. 1796), involved the debtor's assignment of his share of a law partnership's receivables to repay a debt shortly before the debtor was declared bankrupt. Other creditors petitioned chancery for an order directing the debtor's law partner to hand over for general distribution among creditors the debtor's current and future shares of the partnership's receivables, which he held in trust for the assignee. The Chancellor refused to do so, finding the proposal inequitable. Instead, he directed the creditors to bring an action at law against the assignee if they thought themselves entitled to relief. Although this case demonstrates that fraudulent conveyance actions could be brought in equity, it does not show that suits to recover a definite sum of money would be decided by a court of equity when a petitioner did not seek distinctively equitable remedies. The creditors in Ex parte Scudamore asked the Chancellor to provide injunctive relief by ordering the debtor's former law partner to convey to them the debtor's share of the partnership's receivables that came into his possession in the future, along with receivables he then held in trust for the debtor. To the extent that they asked the court to order relinquishment of a specific preferential transfer rather than ongoing equitable relief, the Chancellor dismissed their suit and noted that the proper means of recovery would be an action at law against the transferee. Respondent's own cause of action is of precisely that sort.

Hobbs v. Hull, 1 Cox 445, 29 Eng.Rep. 1242 (Ch. 1788), also fails to advance respondent's case. The assignees in bankruptcy there sued to set aside an alleged fraudulent conveyance of real estate in trust by a husband to his wife, in return for her relinquishment of a cause of action in divorce upon discovering his adultery. The court dismissed the suit, finding that the transfer was not fraudulent, and allowed the assignees to bring an ejectment or other legal action in the law courts. The salient point is that the bankruptcy assignees sought the traditional equitable remedy of setting aside a conveyance of land in trust, rather than the recovery of money or goods, and that the court refused to decide their legal claim to ejectment once it had ruled that no equitable remedy would lie. The court's sweeping statement that "Courts of Equity have most certainly been in the habit of exercising a concurrent jurisdiction with the Courts of Law on the statutes of Elizabeth respecting fraudulent conveyances," id., at 445-446, 30 Eng.Rep., at 1242, is not supported by reference to any cases that sought the recovery of a fixed sum of money without the need for an accounting or other equitable relief. Nor has respondent repaired this deficit. [5] We therefore conclude that respondent would have had to bring his action to recover an alleged fraudulent conveyance of a determinate sum of money at law in 18th-century England, and that a court of equity would not have adjudicated it. [6]

The nature of the relief respondent seeks strongly supports our preliminary finding that the right he invokes should be denominated legal rather than equitable. Our decisions establish beyond peradventure that "[i]n cases of fraud or mistake, as under any other head of chancery jurisdiction, a court of the United States will not sustain a bill in equity to obtain only a decree for the payment of money by way of damages, when the like amount can be recovered at law in an action sounding in tort or for money had and received." Buzard v. Houston, 119 U.S., at 352, 7 S.Ct., at 252, citing Parkersburg v. Brown, 106 U.S. 487, 500, 1 S.Ct. 442, 452, 27 L.Ed. 238 (1883); Ambler v. Choteau, 107 U.S. 586, 1 S.Ct. 556, 27 L.Ed. 322 (1883); Litchfield v. Ballou, 114 U.S. 190, 5 S.Ct. 820, 29 L.Ed. 132 (1885). See also Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 430 U.S. 442, 454, n. 11, 97 S.Ct. 1261, 1268, n. 11, 51 L.Ed.2d 464 (1977) ("the otherwise legal issues of voidable preferences"); Pernell v. Southall Realty, 416 U.S. 363, 370, 94 S.Ct. 1723, 1727, 40 L.Ed.2d 198 (1974) (" '[W]here an action is simply for the recovery . . . of a money judgment, the action is one at law' "), quoting Whitehead v. Shattuck, 138 U.S. 146, 151, 11 S.Ct. 276, 277, 34 L.Ed. 873 (1891); Dairy Queen, Inc. v. Wood, 369 U.S. 469, 476, 82 S.Ct. 894, 899, 8 L.Ed.2d 44 (1962) ("Petitioner's contention . . . is that insofar as the complaint requests a money judgment it presents a claim which is unquestionably legal. We agree with that contention"); Gaines v. Miller, 111 U.S. 395, 397-398, 4 S.Ct. 426, 427, 28 L.Ed. 466 (1884) ("Whenever one person has in his hands money equitably belonging to another, that other person may recover it by assumpsit for money had and received. The remedy at law is adequate and complete") (citations omitted).

Indeed, in our view Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., 287 U.S. 92, 53 S.Ct. 50, 77 L.Ed. 185 (1932), removes all doubt that respondent's cause of action should be characterized as legal rather than as equitable. In Schoenthal, the trustee in bankruptcy sued in equity to recover alleged preferential payments, claiming that he had no adequate remedy at law. As in this case, the recipients of the payments apparently did not file claims against the bankruptcy estate. The Court held that the suit had to proceed at law instead, because the long-settled rule that suits in equity will not be sustained where a complete remedy exists at law, then codified at 28 U.S.C. § 384, "serves to guard the right of trial by jury preserved by the Seventh Amendment and to that end it should be liberally construed." 287 U.S., at 94, 53 S.Ct., at 51. The Court found that the trustee's suit indistinguishable from respondent's suit in all relevant respects could not go forward in equity because an adequate remedy was available at law. There, as here, "[t]he preferences sued for were money payments of ascertained and definite amounts," and "[t]he bill discloses no facts that call for an accounting or other equitable relief." Id., at 95, 53 S.Ct., at 51. Respondent's fraudulent conveyance action plainly seeks relief traditionally provided by law courts or on the law side of courts having both legal and equitable dockets. [7] Unless Congress may and has permissibly withdrawn juri diction over that action by courts of law and assigned it exclusively to non-Article III tribunals sitting without juries, the Seventh Amendment guarantees petitioners a jury trial upon request.

Prior to passage of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, Pub.L. 95-598, 92 Stat. 2549 (1978 Act), "[s]uits to recover preferences constitute[d] no part of the proceedings in bankruptcy." Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., supra, at 94-95, 53 S.Ct., at 51. Although related to bankruptcy proceedings, fraudulent conveyance and preference actions brought by a trustee in bankruptcy were deemed separate, plenary suits to which the Seventh Amendment applied. While the 1978 Act brought those actions within the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts, it preserved parties' rights to trial by jury as they existed prior to the effective date of the 1978 Act. 28 U.S.C. § 1480(a) (repealed). The 1984 Amendments, however, designated fraudulent conveyance actions "core proceedings," 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(H) (1982 ed., Supp. V), which bankruptcy judges may adjudicate and in which they may issue final judgments, § 157(b)(1), if a district court has referred the matter to them, § 157(a). We are not obliged to decide today whether bankruptcy courts may conduct jury trials in fraudulent conveyance suits brought by a trustee against a person who has not entered a claim against the estate, either in the rare procedural posture of this case, see supra, at 41, n. 3, or under the current statutory scheme, see 28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V). Nor need we decide whether, if Congress has authorized bankruptcy courts to hold jury trials in such actions, that authorization comports with Article III when non-Article III judges preside over the actions subject to review in, or withdrawal by, the district courts. We also need not consider whether jury trials conducted by a bankruptcy court would satisfy the Seventh Amendment's command that "no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law," given that district courts may presently set aside clearly erroneous factual findings by bankruptcy courts. Bkrtcy. Rule 8013. The sole issue before us is whether the Seventh Ame dment confers on petitioners a right to a jury trial in the face of Congress' decision to allow a non-Article III tribunal to adjudicate the claims against them.

* In Atlas Roofing, we noted that "when Congress creates new statutory 'public rights,' it may assign their adjudication to an administrative agency with which a jury trial would be incompatible, without violating the Seventh Amendment's injunction that jury trial is to be 'preserved' in 'suits at common law.' " 430 U.S., at 455, 97 S.Ct., at 1269 (footnote omitted). We emphasized, however, that Congress' power to block application of the Seventh Amendment to a cause of action has limits. Congress may only deny trials by jury in actions at law, we said, in cases where "public rights" are litigated: "Our prior cases support administrative factfinding in only those situations involving 'public rights,' e.g., where the Government is involved in its sovereign capacity under an otherwise valid statute creating enforceable public rights. Wholly private tort, contract, and property cases, as well as a vast range of other cases, are not at all implicated." Id., at 458, 97 S.Ct., at 1270. [8]

We adhere to that general teaching. As we said in Atlas Roofing: " 'On the common law side of the federal courts, the aid of juries is not only deemed appropriate but is required by the Constitution itself.' " Id., 430 U.S., at 450, n. 7, 97 S.Ct., at 1266, n. 7, quoting Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 51, 52 S.Ct. 285, 292, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932). Congress may devise novel causes of action involving public rights free from the strictures of the Seventh Amendment if it assigns their adjudication to tribunals without statutory authority to employ juries as factfinders. [9] But it lacks the power to strip parties contesting matters of private right of their constitutional right to a trial by jury. As we recognized in Atlas Roofing, to hold otherwise would be to permit Congress to eviscerate the Seventh Amendment's guarantee by assigning to administrative agencies or courts of equity all causes of action not grounded in state law, whether they originate in a newly fashioned regulatory scheme or possess a long line of common-law forebears. 430 U.S., at 457-458, 97 S.Ct., at 1270-1271. The Constitution nowhere grants Congress such puissant authority. "[L]egal claims are not magically converted into equitable issues by their presentation to a court of equity," Ross v. Bernhard, 396 U.S. 531, 538, 90 S.Ct. 733, 738, 24 L.Ed.2d 729 (1970), nor can Congress conjure away the Seventh Amendment by mandating that traditional legal claims be brought there or taken to an administrative tribunal.

In certain situations, of course, Congress may fashion causes of action that are closely analogous to common-law claims and place them beyond the ambit of the Seventh Amendment by assigning their resolution to a forum in which jury trials are unavailable. See, e.g., Atlas Roofing, supra, 430 U.S., at 450-461, 97 S.Ct., at 1266-1272 (workplace safety regulations); Block v. Hirsh, 256 U.S. 135, 158, 41 S.Ct. 458, 460, 65 L.Ed. 865 (1921) (temporary emergency regulation of rental real estate). See also Pernell v. Southall Realty, 416 U.S., at 382-383, 94 S.Ct., at 1733 (discussing cases); Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co., 18 How. 272, 284, 15 L.Ed. 372 (1856) (Congress "may or may not bring within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, as it may deem proper," matters involving public rights). Congress' power to do so is limited, however, just as its power to place adjudicative authority in non-Article III tribunals is circumscribed. See Thomas v. Union Carbide Agricultural Products Co., 473 U.S. 568, 589, 593-594, 105 S.Ct. 3325, 3337, 3339-3340, 87 L.Ed.2d 409 (1985); id., at 598-600, 105 S.Ct., at 3342-3343 (BRENNAN, J., concurring in judgment); Northern Pipeline Construction Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., 458 U.S. 50, 73-76, 102 S.Ct. 2858, 2872-2874, 73 L.Ed.2d 598 (1982) (opinion of BRENNAN, J.); id., at 91, 102 S.Ct., at 2881 (REHNQUIST, J., concurring in judgment). Unless a legal cause of action involves "public rights," Congress may not deprive parties litigating over such a right of the Seventh Amendment's guarantee to a jury trial.

In Atlas Roofing, supra, 430 U.S., at 458, 97 S.Ct., at 1270, we noted that Congress may effectively supplant a common-law cause of action carrying with it a right to a jury trial with a statutory cause of action shorn of a jury trial right if that statutory cause of action inheres in, or lies against, the Federal Government in its sovereign capacity. Our case law makes plain, however, that the class of "public rights" whose adjudication Congress may assign to administrative agencies or courts of equity sitting without juries is more expansive than Atlas Roofing 's discussion suggests. Indeed, our decisions point to the conclusion that, if a statutory cause of action is legal in nature, the question whether the Seventh Amendment permits Congress to assign its adjudication to a tribunal that does not employ juries as factfinders requires the same answer as the question whether Article III allows Congress to assign adjudication of that cause of action to a non-Article III tribunal. For if a statutory cause of action, such as respondent's right to recover a fraudulent conveyance under 11 U.S.C. § 548(a)(2), is not a "public right" for Article III purposes, then Congress may not assign its adjudication to a specialized non-Article III court lacking "the essential attributes of the judicial power." Crowell v. Benson, supra, 285 U.S., at 51, 52 S.Ct., at 292. And if the action must be tried under the auspices of an Article III court, then the Seventh Amendment affords the parties a right to a jury trial whenever the cause of action is legal in nature. Conversely, if Congress may assign the adjudication of a statutory cause of action to a non-Article III tribunal, then the Seventh Amendment poses no independent bar to the adjudication of that action by a nonjury factfinder. See, e.g., Atlas Roofing, supra, 430 U.S., at 453-455, 460, 97 S.Ct., at 1268-1269, 1271; Pernell v. Southall Realty, supra, 416 U.S., at 383, 94 S.Ct., at 1733; Block v. Hirsh, supra, 256 U.S., at 158, 41 S.Ct., at 460. In addition to our Seventh Amendment precedents, we therefore rely on our decisions exploring the restrictions Article III places on Congress' choice of adjudicative bodies to resolve disputes over statutory rights to determine whether petitioners are entitled to a jury trial.

In our most recent discussion of the "public rights" doctrine as it bears on Congress' power to commit adjudication of a statutory cause of action to a non-Article III tribunal, we rejected the view that "a matter of public rights must at a minimum arise 'between the government and others.' " Northern Pipeline Construction Co., supra, 458 U.S., at 69, 102 S.Ct., at 2870 (opinion of BRENNAN, J.), quoting Ex parte Bakelite Corp., 279 U.S. 438, 451, 49 S.Ct. 411, 413, 73 L.Ed. 789 (1929). We held, instead, that the Federal Government need not be a party for a case to revolve around "public rights." Thomas v. Union Carbide Agricultural Products Co., 473 U.S., at 586, 105 S.Ct., at 3335; id., at 596-599, 105 S.Ct., at 3341-3343 (BRENNAN, J., concurring in judgment). The crucial question, in cases not involving the Federal Government, is whether "Congress, acting for a valid legislative purpose pursuant to its constitutional powers under Article I, [has] create[d] a seemingly 'private' right that is so closely integrated into a public regulatory scheme as to be a matter appropriate for agency resolution with limited involvement by the Article III judiciary." Id., at 593-594, 105 S.Ct., at 3339-3340. See id., at 600, 105 S.Ct., at 3343 (BRENNAN, J., concurring in judgment) (challenged provision involves public rights because "the dispute arises in the context of a federal regulatory scheme that virtually occupies the field"). If a statutory right is not closely intertwined with a federal regulatory program Congress has power to enact, and if that right neither belongs to nor exists against the Federal Government, then it must be adjudicated by an Article III court. [10] If the right is legal in nature, then it carries with it the Seventh Amendment's guarantee of a jury trial.

Although the issue admits of some debate, a bankruptcy trustee's right to recover a fraudulent conveyance under 11 U.S.C. § 548(a)(2) seems to us more accurately characterized as a private rather than a public right as we have used these terms in our Article III decisions. In Northern Pipeline Construction Co., 458 U.S., at 71, 102 S.Ct., at 2871, the plurality noted that the restructuring of debtor-creditor relations in bankruptcy "may well be a 'public right.' " [11] But the plurality also emphasized that state-law causes of action for breach of contract or warranty are paradigmatic private rights, even when asserted by an insolvent corporation in the midst of Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings. The plurality further said that "matters from their nature subject to 'a suit at common law or in equity or admiralty' " lie at the "protected core" of Article III judicial power, id., at 71, n. 25, 102 S.Ct., at 2871, n. 25; see id., at 90, 102 S.Ct., at 2881 (REHNQUIST, J., concurring in judgment)-a point we reaffirmed in Thomas, supra, 473 U.S., at 587, 105 S.Ct., at 3336. There can be little doubt that fraudulent conveyance actions by bankruptcy trustees-suits which, we said in Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., 287 U.S., at 94-95, 53 S.Ct., at 51 (citation omitted), "constitute no part of the proceedings in bankruptcy but concern controversies arising out of it"-are quintessentially suits at common law that more nearly resemble state-law contract claims brought by a bankrupt corporation to augment the bankruptcy estate than they do creditors' hierarchically ordered claims to a pro rata share of the bankruptcy res. See Gibson 1022-1025. They therefore appear matters of private rather than public right. [12]

Our decision in Katchen v. Landy, 382 U.S. 323, 86 S.Ct. 467, 15 L.Ed.2d 391 (1966), under the Seventh Amendment rather than Article III, confirms this analysis. Petitioner, an officer of a bankrupt corporation, made payments from corporate funds within four months of bankruptcy on corporate notes on which he was an accommodation maker. When petitioner later filed claims against the bankruptcy estate, the trustee counterclaimed, arguing that the payments petitioner made constituted voidable preferences because they reduced his potential personal liability on the notes. We held that the bankruptcy court had jurisdiction to order petitioner to surrender the preferences and that it could rule on the trustee's claim without according petitioner a jury trial. Our holding did not depend, however, on the fact that "[bankruptcy] courts are essentially courts of equity" because "they characteristically proceed in summary fashion to deal with the assets of the bankrupt they are administering." Id., at 327, 86 S.Ct., at 471. Notwithstanding the fact that bankruptcy courts "characteristically" supervised summary proceedings, they were statutorily invested with jurisdiction at law as well, and could also oversee plenary proceedings. See Atlas Roofing, 430 U.S., at 454, n. 11, 97 S.Ct., at 1268, n. 11 (Katchen rested "on the ground that a bankruptcy court, exercising its summary jurisdi tion, was a specialized court of equity") (emphasis added); Pepper v. Litton, 308 U.S. 295, 304, 60 S.Ct. 238, 244, 84 L.Ed. 281 (1939) ("[F]or many purposes 'courts of bankruptcy are essentially courts of equity' ") (emphasis added). Our decision turned, rather, on the bankruptcy court's having "actual or constructive possession" of the bankruptcy estate, 382 U.S., at 327, 86 S.Ct., at 471, and its power and obligation to consider objections by the trustee in deciding whether to allow claims against the estate. Id., at 329-331, 86 S.Ct., at 472-474. Citing Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., supra, approvingly, we expressly stated that, if petitioner had not submitted a claim to the bankruptcy court, the trustee could have recovered the preference only by a plenary action, and that petitioner would have been entitled to a jury trial if the trustee had brought a plenary action in federal court. See 382 U.S., at 327-328, 86 S.Ct., at 471-472. We could not have made plainer that our holding in Schoenthal retained its vitality: "[A]lthough petitioner might be entitled to a jury trial on the issue of preference if he presented no claim in the bankruptcy proceeding and awaited a federal plenary action by the trustee, Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., 287 U.S. 92, 53 S.Ct. 50, when the same issue arises as part of the process of allowance and disallowance of claims, it is triable in equity." Id., at 336, 86 S.Ct., at 476. [13]

Unlike Justice WHITE, see post, at 72-75, 78, we do not view the Court's conclusion in Katchen as resting on an accident of statutory history. We read Schoenthal and Katchen as holding that, under the Seventh Amendment, a creditor's right to a jury trial on a bankruptcy trustee's preference claim depends upon whether the creditor has submitted a claim against the estate, not upon Congress' precise definition of the "bankruptcy estate" or upon whether Congress chanced to deny jury trials to creditors who have not filed claims and who are sued by a trustee to recover an alleged preference. Because petitioners here, like the petitioner in Schoenthal, have not filed claims against the estate, respondent's fraudulent conveyance action does not arise "as part of the process of allowance and disallowance of claims." Nor is that action integral to the restructuring of debtor-creditor relations. Congress therefore cannot divest petitioners of their Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury. Katchen thus supports the result we reach today; it certainly does not compel its opposite. [14]

The 1978 Act abolished the statutory distinction between plenary and summary bankruptcy proceedings, on which the Court relied in Schoenthal and Katchen. Although the 1978 Act preserved parties' rights to jury trials as they existed prior to the day it took effect, 28 U.S.C. § 1480(a) (repealed), in the 1984 Amendments Congress drew a new distinction between "core" and "non-core" proceedings and classified fraudulent conveyance actions as core proceedings triable by bankruptcy judges. 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(H) (1982 ed., Supp. V). Whether 28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V) purports to abolish jury trial rights in what were formerly plenary actions is unclear, and at any rate is not a question we need decide here. See supra, at 40-41, n. 3. The decisive point is that in neither the 1978 Act nor the 1984 Amendments did Congress "creat[e] a new cause of action, and remedies therefor, unknown to the common law," because traditional rights and remedies were inadequate to cope with a manifest public problem. Atlas Roofing, 430 U.S., at 461, 97 S.Ct., at 1272. Rather, Congress simply reclassified a pre-existing, common-law cause of action that was not integrally related to the reformation of debtor-creditor relations [15] and that apparently did not suffer from any grave deficiencies. This purely taxonomic change cannot alter our Seventh Amendment analysis. Congress cannot eliminate a party's Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial merely by relabeling the cause of action to which it attaches and placing exclusive jurisdiction in an administrative agency or a specialized court of equity. See Gibson 1022-1025.

Nor can Congress' assignment be justified on the ground that jury trials of fraudulent conveyance actions would "go far to dismantle the statutory scheme," Atlas Roofing, 430 U.S., at 454, n. 11, 97 S.Ct., at 1268, n. 11, or that bankruptcy proceedings have been placed in "an administrative forum with which the jury would be incompatible." Id., at 450, 97 S.Ct., at 1266. To be sure, we owe some deference to Congress' judgment after it has given careful consideration to the constitutionality of a legislative provision. See Northern Pipeline Construction Co., 458 U.S., at 61, 102 S.Ct., at 2866 (opinion of BRENNAN, J.). But respondent has adduced no evidence that Congress considered the constitutional implications of its designation of all fraudulent conveyance actions as core proceedings. Nor can it seriously be argued that permitting jury trials in fraudulent conveyance actions brought by a trustee against a person who has not entered a claim against the estate would "go far to dismantle the statutory scheme," as we used that phrase in Atlas Roofing, when our opinion in that case, following Schoenthal, plainly assumed that such claims carried with them a right to a jury trial. [16] In addition, one cannot easily say that "the jury would be incompatible" with bankruptcy proceedings, in view of Congress' express provision for jury trials in certain actions arising out of bankruptcy litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V); Gibson 1024-1025; Warner, Katchen Up in Bankruptcy: The New Jury Trial Right, 63 Am.Bankr.L.J. 1, 48 (1989) (hereinafter Warner). And Justice WHITE's claim that juries may serve usefully as checks only on the decisions of judges who enjoy life tenure, see post, at 82-83, overlooks the extent to which judges who are appointed for fixed terms may be beholden to Congress or Executive officials, and thus ignores the potential for juries to exercise beneficial restraint on their decisions.

It may be that providing jury trials in some fraudulent conveyance actions-if not in this particular case, because respondent's suit was commenced after the Bankruptcy Court approved the debtor's plan of reorganization-would impede swift resolution of bankruptcy proceedings and increase the expense of Chapter 11 reorganizations. [17] But "these considerations are insufficient to overcome the clear command of the Seventh Amendment." Curtis v. Loether, 415 U.S., at 198, 94 S.Ct., at 1010. See also Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U.S. 714, 736, 106 S.Ct. 3181, 3193, 92 L.Ed.2d 583 (1986) (" '[T]he fact that a given law or procedure is efficient, convenient, and useful in facilitating functions of government, standing alone, will not save it if it is contrary to the Constitution' "), quoting INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 944, 103 S.Ct. 2764, 2780, 77 L.Ed.2d 317 (1983); Pernell v. Southall Realty, 416 U.S., at 383-384, 94 S.Ct., at 1733-1734 (discounting arguments that jury trials would be unduly burdensome and rejecting "the notion that there is some necessary inconsistency between the desire for speedy justice and the right to jury trial"). [18]

We do not decide today whether the current jury trial provision-28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V)-permits bankruptcy courts to conduct jury trials in fraudulent conveyance actions like the one respondent initiated. Nor do we express any view as to whether the Seventh Amendment or Article III allows jury trials in such actions to be held before non-Article III bankruptcy judges subject to the oversight provided by the district courts pursuant to the 1984 Amendments. We leave those issues for future decisions. [19] We do hold, however, that whatever the answers to these questions, the Seventh Amendment entitles petitioners to the jury trial they requested. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

NotesEdit

^1  Section 1330(a) provides:

"The district courts shall have original jurisdiction without regard to amount in controversy of any nonjury civil action against a foreign state as defined in section 1603(a) of this title as to any claim for relief in personam with respect to which the foreign state is not entitled to immunity either under sections 1605-1607 of this title or under any applicable international agreement." (Emphasis added.)

^2  Indeed, respondent strenuously supported the Court of Appeals' conclusion, which echoed that of the District Court, see A p. to Pet. for Cert. 22, that the "FSIA is inapplicable to the case at bar," 835 F.2d 1341, 1347 (CA11 1988), not only on the court's rationale that "the transfers in question and the suit to recover those transfers occurred before Granfinanciera was nationalized," ibid., but on the more sweeping rationale that Granfinanciera never proved that it was an instrumentality of a foreign state because it had never really been nationalized. See Brief for Appellee in No. 86-5738 (CA11), pp. 21-30; Brief for Appellee in No. 86-1292 (SD Fla.), pp. 32-36. Admittedly, respondent's present position that the FSIA does not confer immunity on Granfinanciera because it was not an instrumentality of a foreign state when the alleged wrongs occurred or when respondent filed suit is not necessarily incompatible with his claim that Granfinanciera cannot qualify for a jury trial under the FSIA because it requested a jury trial after it was nationalized. Respondent has not attempted, however, to reconcile these views and did not make the second claim until he filed his merits brief in this Court.

^3  The current statutory provision for jury trials in bankruptcy proceedings-28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V), enacted as part of the Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984 (1984 Amendments), Pub.L. 98-353, 98 Stat. 333-is notoriously ambiguous. Section 1411(a) provides: "[T]his chapter and title 11 do not affect any right to trial by jury that an individual has under applicable nonbankruptcy law with regard to a personal injury or wrongful death tort claim." Although this

section might suggest that jury trials are available only in personal injury and wrongful death actions, that conclusion is debatable. Section 1411(b) provides that "[t]he district court may order the issues arising [in connection with involuntary bankruptcy petitions] to be tried without a jury," suggesting that the court lacks similar discretion to deny jury trials on at least some issues presented in connection with voluntary petitions. The confused legislative history of these provisions has further puzzled commentators. See, e.g., Gibson, Jury Trials in Bankruptcy: Obeying the Commands of Article III and the Seventh Amendment, 72 Minn.L.Rev. 967, 989-996 (1988) (hereinafter Gibson); Note, the Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984: The Impact on the Right of Jury Trial in Bankruptcy Court, 16 Tex.Tech.L.Rev. 535, 543-546 (1985). Whatever the proper construction of § 1411, petitioners concede that this section does not entitle them to a jury trial. Section 122(b) of the 1984 Amendments, 98 Stat. 346, bars application of § 1411 to "cases under title 11 of the United States Code that are pending on the date of enactment of this Act or to proceedings arising in or related to such cases," and Chase & Sanborn's petition for reorganization was pending on that date. Nor does § 1411's predecessor-28 U.S.C. § 1480(a), which stated that "this chapter and title 11 do not affect any right to trial by jury, in a case under title 11 or in a proceeding arising under title 11 or arising in or related to a case under title 11, that is provided by any statute in effect on September 30, 1979"-seem to afford petitioners a statutory basis for their claim. As they recognize, § 1480 was apparently repealed by the 1984 Amendments. See Gibson 989, and n. 96; King, Jurisdiction and Procedure Under the Bankruptcy Amendments of 1984, 38 Vand.L.Rev. 675, 703, and n. 79 (1985); Brief for Respondent 5, n. 11. Petitioners therefore appear correct in concluding that, "absent any specific legislation in force providing jury trials for cases filed before July 10, 1984, but tried afterwards, [their] right to jury trial in this proceeding must necessarily be predicated entirely on the Seventh Amendment." Brief for Petitioners 33, n. 7. See also Brief for Respondent 10, and n. 15.

^4  This quite distinct inquiry into whether Congress has permissibly entrusted the resolution of certain disputes to an administrative agency or specialized court of equity, and whether jury trials would impair the functioning of the legislative scheme, appears to be what the Court contemplated when in Ross v. Bernhard, 396 U.S. 531, 538, n. 10, 90 S.Ct. 733, 738, n. 10, 24 L.Ed.2d 729 (1970), it identified "the practical abilities and limitations of juries" as an additional factor to be consulted in determining whether the Seventh Amendment confers a jury trial right. See Tull v. United States, 481 U.S., at 418, n. 4, 107 S.Ct., at 1835, n. 4; Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 430 U.S. 442, 454-455, 97 S.Ct. 1261, 1268-1269, 51 L.Ed.2d 464 (1977). We consider this issue in Part IV, infra. Contrary to Justice WHITE'S contention, see post, at 79-80, we do not declare that the Seventh Amendment provides a right to a jury trial on all legal rather than equitable claims. If a claim that is legal in nature asserts a "public right," as we define that term in Part IV, then the Seventh Amendment does not entitle the parties to a jury trial if Congress assigns its adjudication to an administrative agency or specialized court of equity. See infra, at 51-53. The Seventh Amendment protects a litigant's right to a jury trial only if a cause of action is legal in nature and it involves a matter of "private right."

^5  Rather than list 18th-century English cases to support the contention that fraudulent monetary transfers were traditionally cognizable in equity, respondent cites three recent cases from the Courts of Appea s. These cases, however, weaken rather than bolster respondent's argument. In re Graham, 747 F.2d 1383 (CA11 1984), held that there was no Seventh Amendment jury trial right in a suit for the equitable remedy of setting aside an alleged fraudulent conveyance of real estate by a bankrupt. With respect to suits like respondent's, the court expressly noted that "an action by a creditor or trustee-in-bankruptcy seeking money damages is an action at law." Id., at 1387 (citations omitted). Damsky v. Zavatt, 289 F.2d 46 (CA2 1961), also involved a conveyance of real estate. And there, too, the court acknowledged that jury trials are ordinarily available with respect to monetary claims. See id., at 54.

Both of these holdings are questionable, moreover, to the extent that they are in tension with our decision in Whitehead v. Shattuck, 138 U.S. 146, 11 S.Ct. 276, 34 L.Ed. 873 (1891). Although there is scholarly support for the claim that actions to recover real property are quintessentially equitable actions, see 1 G. Glenn, Fraudulent Conveyances and Preferences § 98, pp. 183-184 (rev. ed. 1940), in Whitehead we stated:

"[W]here an action is simply for the recovery and possession of specific real or personal property, or for the recovery of a money judgment, the action is one at law. An action for the recovery of real property, including damages for withholding it, has always been of that class. The right which in this case the plaintiff wishes to assert is his title to certain real property; the remedy which he wishes to obtain is its possession and enjoyment; and in a contest over the title both parties have a constitutional right to call for a jury." 138 U.S., at 151, 11 S.Ct., at 277.

See also Pernell v. Southall Realty, 416 U.S. 363, 370-374, 94 S.Ct. 1723, 1727-1729, 40 L.Ed.2d 198 (1974).

Finally, respondent misreads In re Harbour, 840 F.2d 1165, 1172-1173 (1988). The Fourth Circuit relied in that case on the same authorities to which we have referred, distinguishing between suits to recover fraudulent transfers and other bankruptcy proceedings. The court's holding that the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial no longer extends to such actions was based not on its historical analysis, which accords with our own, but on its erroneous belief that Congress possesses the power to assign jurisdiction over all fraudulent conveyance actions to bankruptcy courts sitting without juries. The case therefore lends no support to respondent's historical argument.

^6  Citing several authorities, Justice WHITE contends that "[o]ther scholars have looked at the same history and come to a different conclusion." Post, at 85, and n. 7. This assertion, however, lacks the support it claims. With the exception of Justice Gray's opinion in Drake v. Rice, 130 Mass. 410, 412 (1881), and Roberts' treatise, none of the authorities cited so much as mentions 18th-century English practice. Although Collier offers as its opinion that actions to set aside fraudulent transfers are equitable in nature, 4 Collier on Bankruptcy ¶ 548.10, p. 548-125 (15th ed. 1989), it refers only to recent cases in defending its opinion, while acknowledging that some courts have disagreed. Bump and Wait both limit their citations to state-court decisions, refusing to analyze earlier English cases. See O. Bump, Conveyances Made by Debtors to Defraud Creditors § 532 (4th ed. 1896); F. Wait, Fraudulent Conveyances and Creditors' Bills §§ 56-60 (1884). To be sure, in Drake v. Rice, 130 Mass., at 412, Justice Gray says that, "[b]y the law of England before the American Revolution, . . . fraudulent conveyances of choses in action, though not specified in the statute [of Elizabeth], were equally void, but from the nature of the subject the remedy of the creditor must be sought in equity." But the reason why suits to recover fraudulent transfers of choses in action had to be brought in equity, Justice Gray points out, is that they could not be attached or levied upon. Id., at 413. See also O. Bump, supra, § 531 ("[T]here is no remedy at law when the property can not be taken on execution or by attachment"). Justice Gray's summary of 18th-century English practice does not extend to cases, such as those involving monetary transfers, where an adequate remedy existed at law. The passage Justice WHITE cites from Roberts' treatise is obscure, and does not speak squarely to the question whether 18th-century English courts of equity would hear cases where legal remedies were sufficient. See W. Roberts, Voluntary and Fraudulent Conveyances 526-527 (3d Am. ed. 1845).

^7  Respondent claims to seek "avoidance" of the allegedly fraudulent transfers and restitution of the funds that were actually transferred, but maintains that petitioners have made restitution impossible because the transferred funds cannot be distinguished from the other dollars in petitioners' bank accounts. See Brief for Respondent 39-44. Because avoidance and restitution are classical equitable remedies, he says, petitioners are not entitled to a trial by jury. We find this strained attempt to circumvent precedent unpersuasive. Because dollars are fungible, and respondent has not requested an accounting or other specifically equitable form of relief, a complete remedy is available at law, and equity will not countenance an action when complete relief may be obtained at law. See, e.g., Schoenthal v. Irving Trust Co., 287 U.S., at 94-95, 53 S.Ct., at 51-52. Moreover, because a plaintiff is entitled to return of any funds transferred in violation of 11 U.S.C. § 548 (1982 ed., Supp. V), and because a judge lacks equitable discretion to refuse to enter an award for less than the amount of the transfer, any distinction that might exist between "damages" and monetary relief under a different label is purely semantic, with no relevance to the adjudication of petitioners' Seventh Amendment claim. Cf. Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 442-443, 95 S.Ct. 2362, 2384-2385, 45 L.Ed.2d 280 (1975) (REHNQUIST, J., concurring). Indeed, even if the checks respondent seeks to recover lay untouched in petitioners' offices, legal remedies would apparently have sufficed. See, e.g., Adams v. Champion, 294 U.S. 231, 234, 55 S.Ct. 399, 400, 79 L.Ed. 880 (1935); Whitehead v. Shattuck, supra, 138 U.S., at 151, 11 S.Ct., at 277.

^8  Although we left the term "public rights" undefined in Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 430 U.S., at 450, 458, 97 S.Ct., at 1266, 1270, we cited Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 52 S.Ct. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932), approvingly. In Crowell, we defined "private right" as "the liability of one individual to another under the law as defined," id., at 51, 52 S.Ct., at 292, in contrast to cases that "arise between the Government and persons subject to its authority in connection with the performance of the constitutional functions of the executive or legislative departments." Id., at 50, 52 S.Ct., at 292.

^9  This proposition was firmly established in Atlas Roofing, supra, at 455, 97 S.Ct., at 1269 (footnote omitted):

"Congress is not required by the Seventh Amendment to choke the already crowded federal courts with new types of litigation or prevented from committing some new types of litigation to administrative agencies with special competence in the relevant field. This is the case even if the Seventh Amendment would have required a jury where the adjudication of those rights is assigned to a federal court of law instead of an administrative agency."

^10  In Atlas Roofing, 430 U.S., at 442, 450, n. 7, 97 S.Ct., at 1261, 1266, n. 7, we stated that "[i]n cases which do involve only 'private rights,' this Court has accepted factfinding by an administrative agency, without intervention by a jury, only as an adjunct to an Art. III court, analogizing the agency to a jury or a special master and permitting it in admiralty cases to perform the function of the special master." That statement, however, must be read in context. First, we referred explicitly only to Congress' power, where disputes concern private rights, to provide administrative factfinding instead of jury trials in admiralty cases. Civil causes of action in admiralty, however, are not suits at common law for Seventh Amendment purposes, and thus no constitutional right to a jury trial attaches. Waring v. Clarke, 5 How. 441, 460, 12 L.Ed. 226 (1847). Second, our statement should not be taken to mean that Congress may assign at least the initial factfinding in all cases involving controversies entirely between private parties to administrative agencies or other tribunals not involving juries, so long as they are established as adjuncts to Article III courts. If that were so, Congress could render the Seventh Amendment a nullity. Rather, that statement, citing Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S., at 51-65, 52 S.Ct., at 292-298, means only that in some cases involving "private rights" as that term was defined in Crowell and used in Atlas Roofing namely, as encompassing all disputes to which the Federal Government is not a party in its sovereign capacity-may Congress dispense with juries as factfinders through its choice of an adjudicative forum. Those cases in which Congress may decline to provide jury trials are ones involving statutory rights that are integral parts of a public regulatory scheme and whose adjudication Congress has assigned to an administrative agency or specialized court of equity. Whatever terminological distinctions Atlas Roofing may have suggested, we now refer to those rights as "public" rather than "private."

^11  We do not suggest that the restructuring of debtor-creditor relations is in fact a public right. This thesis has met with substantial scholarly criticism, see, e.g., Gibson 1041, n. 347; Currie, Bankruptcy Judges and the Independent Judiciary, 16 Creighton L.Rev. 441, 452 (1983); Baird, Bankruptcy Procedure and State-Created Rights: The Lessons of Gibbons and Marathon, 1982 Sup.Ct.Rev. 25, 44, and we need not and do not seek to defend it here. Our point is that even if one accepts this thesis, the Seventh Amendment entitles petitioners to a jury trial.

^12  See Northern Pipeline Construction Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., 458 U.S. 50, 71, 102 S.Ct. 2858, 2871, 73 L.Ed.2d 598 (1982) (opinion of BRENNAN, J.):

"[T]he restructuring of debtor-creditor relations, which is at the core of the federal bankruptcy power, must be distinguished from the adjudication of state-created private rights, such as the right to recover contract damages that is at issue in this case. The former may well be a 'public right,' but the latter obviously is not."

^13  Although we said in Katchen v. Landy, 382 U.S., at 336, 86 S.Ct., at 476, that the petitioner might have been entitled to a jury trial had he presented no claim against the bankruptcy estate, our approving references not only to Schoenthal but also to Adams v. Champion, 294 U.S., at 234, 55 S.Ct. 399, 400, 79 L.Ed. 880, and Buffum v. Barceloux Co., 289 U.S. 227, 235-236, 53 S.Ct. 539, 542-543, 77 L.Ed. 1140 (1933), see 382 U.S., at 327-328, 86 S.Ct., at 471-472, demonstrate that we did not intend to cast doubt on the proposition that the petitioner in Katchen would have been entitled to a jury trial had he not entered a claim against the estate and had the bankruptcy trustee requested solely legal relief. We merely left open the possibility that a jury trial might not be required because in some cases preference avoidance actions are equitable in character.

^14  In Katchen, supra, 382 U.S., at 335, 86 S.Ct., at 475, we adopted a rationale articulated in Alexander v. Hillman, 296 U.S. 222, 241-242, 56 S.Ct. 204, 210-211, 80 L.Ed. 192 (1935) (citations omitted):

" 'By presenting their claims respondents subjected themselves to all the consequences that attach to an appearance. . . .

  • * * * *

" 'Respondents' contention means that, while invoking the court's jurisdiction to establish their right to participate in the distribution, they may deny its pow r to require them to account for what they misappropriated. In behalf of creditors and stockholders, the receivers reasonably may insist that, before taking aught, respondents may by the receivership court be required to make restitution. That requirement is in harmony with the rule generally followed by courts of equity that having jurisdiction of the parties to controversies brought before them, they will decide all matters in dispute and decree complete relief.' "

It warrants emphasis that this rationale differs from the notion of waiver on which the Court relied in Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Schor, 478 U.S. 833, 106 S.Ct. 3245, 92 L.Ed.2d 675 (1986). The Court ruled in Schor-where no Seventh Amendment claims were presented-that the Commodities Futures Trading Commission could adjudicate state-law counterclaims to a federal action by investors against their broker consistent with Article III. The Court reached this conclusion, however, not on the ground that the Commission had possession of a disputed res, to which the investors laid claim, but on the ground that Congress did not require investors to avail themselves of the remedial scheme over which the Commission presided. The investors could have pursued their claims, albeit less expeditiously, in federal court. By electing to use the speedier, alternative procedures Congress had created, the Court said, the investors waived their right to have the state-law counterclaims against them adjudicated by an Article III court. See id., at 847-850, 106 S.Ct., at 3255-3257. Parallel reasoning is unavailable in the context of bankruptcy proceedings, because creditors lack an alternative forum to the bankruptcy court in which to pursue their claims. As Katchen makes clear, however, by submitting a claim against the bankruptcy estate, creditors subject themselves to the court's equitable power to disallow those claims, even though the debtor's opposing counterclaims are legal in nature and the Seventh Amendment would have entitled creditors to a jury trial had they not tendered claims against the estate.

It hardly needs pointing out that Justice WHITE's assertion, see post, at 71-72, that this case is controlled by the Court's statement in Katchen that "it makes no difference, so far as petitioner's Seventh Amendment claim is concerned, whether the bankruptcy trustee urges only a § 57g objection or also seeks affirmative relief," 382 U.S., at 337-338, 86 S.Ct., at 476-477, is entirely unfounded. Read in context, the Court's statement merely means that once a creditor has filed a claim against the estate, the bankruptcy trustee may recover the full amount of any preference received by the creditor-claimant, even if that amount exceeds the amount of the creditor's claim. The Court's statement says nothing about a creditor's Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial on a trustee's preference action when the creditor has not entered a claim against the estate.

^15  The adventitious relation of a trustee's fraudulent conveyance actions to the reorganization proceedings themselves which we recognized in Schoenthal and Katchen, which federal bankruptcy legislation acknowledged until 1978 by treating them as plenary actions when the defendant had not made a claim against the estate, and for which Congress expressly provided jury trial rights until 1984-is further evidenced by the events in this case. Respondent's fraudulent conveyance action was not filed until well after the Bankruptcy Court had approved the plan of reorganization and Chase & Sanborn's tangible assets and business had been liquidated. Reply Brief for Petitioner 9.

^16  Of course, the 1984 Amendments altered the statutory scheme that formed the backdrop to our discussion in Atlas Roofing. But in this connection they did so only by depriving persons who have not filed claims against the estate of a statutory right to a jury trial when the trustee sues them to recover an alleged fraudulent conveyance or preferential transfer. The 1984 Amendments did not alter the nature of the trustee's claim or the

relief to which he was entitled. To say that our failure to respect Congress' reclassification of these causes of action would "go far to dismantle the statutory scheme" simply because they partly define the new statutory scheme would be to rende this test an empty tautology.

This is not to say, of course, contrary to Justice WHITE's assertion, see post, at 75, n. 4, that we regard Congress' amendments to the bankruptcy statutes as an "act of whimsy." The sweeping changes Congress instituted in 1978 were clearly intended to make the reorganization process more efficient, as Justice WHITE's quotation from a Senate Report indicates. But the radical reforms of 1978, on whose legislative history his dissent relies, did not work the slightest alteration in the right to a jury trial of alleged recipients of fraudulent conveyances. That change came in 1984. Although enhanced efficiency was likely Congress' aim once again, neither Justice WHITE nor Justice BLACKMUN points to any statement from the legislative history of the 1984 Amendments confirming this supposition with respect to preference actions in particular. More important, they offer no evidence that Congress considered the propriety of its action under the Seventh Amendment. The House Report cited by Justice BLACKMUN, see post, 93, at advocated conferring Article III status on bankruptcy judges. Its favored approach would therefore have eliminated the problem before us by clearly entitling petitioners to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment. See H.R.Rep. No. 98-9, pt. 1, pp. 7, 9, 16 (1983). This approach was rejected by the Senate. In defending an alternative proposal that ultimately prevailed, however, the Senate Report to which Justice BLACKMUN refers neglects to discuss specifically the inclusion of preference actions in the class of core proceedings or potential difficulties under the Seventh Amendment to which that assignment might give rise. See S.Rep. No. 98-55, pp. 32-40 (1983). Apparently, the Senate Judiciary Committee overlooked this problem entirely. Thus, the 1984 Amendments' denial of the right to a jury trial in preference and fraudulent conveyance actions can hardly be said to represent Congress' considered judgment of the constitutionality of this change.

^17  Respondent argues, for example, that the prompt resolution of fraudulent transfer claims brought by bankruptcy trustees is often crucial to the reorganization process and that if, by demanding a jury trial, a party could delay those proceedings, it could alter the negotiating framework and unfairly extract more favorable terms for itself. Brief for Respondent 35. It warrants notice, however, that the provision of jury trials in fraudulent conveyance actions has apparently not been attended by substantial difficulties under previous bankruptcy statutes; that respondent has not pointed to any discussion of this allegedly serious problem in the legislative history of the 1978 Act or the 1984 Amendments; that in many cases defendants would likely not request jury trials; that causes of action to re over preferences may be assigned pursuant to the plan of reorganization rather than pursued prior to the plan's approval, as was done in this very case; and that Congress itself, in enacting 28 U.S.C. § 1411 (1982 ed., Supp. V), explicitly provided for jury trials of personal injury and wrongful-death claims, which would likely take much longer to try than most preference actions and which often involve large sums of money.

^18  One commentator has noted:

"[T]he interpretation of Katchen as a 'delay and expense' exception to the seventh amendment is negated by the Court's rejection of the argument that delay, or even the more significant problem of jury prejudice, can override the seventh amendment. Katchen § reference to 'delay and expense' must, therefore, be read as part of the Court's consideration of whether the legal remedy had become sufficiently adequate to result in a shifting of the boundaries of law and equity. At a minimum, the delay and expense language of Katchen must be read in light of the petitioner's demand for a stay of the bankruptcy action and the institution of a separate suit in a different court. That is a qualitatively different type of delay and expense from the delay and expense of providing a jury trial in the same action. The latter could never override Beacon [Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500, 79 S.Ct. 948, 3 L.Ed.2d 988 (1959),] and Dairy Queen [, Inc. v. Wood, 369 U.S. 469, 82 S.Ct. 894, 8 L.Ed.2d 44 (1962) ]." Warner 39 (footnotes omitted); see id., at 42, 48.

^19  Justice WHITE accuses us of being "rather coy" about which statute we are invalidating, post, at 71, n. 2, and of "preferring to be obtuse" about which court must preside over the jury trial to which petitioners are entitled. Post, at 81. But however helpful it might be for us to adjudge every pertinent statutory and constitutional issue presented by the 1978 Act and the 1984 Amendments, we cannot properly reach out and decide matters not before us. The only question we have been called upon to answer in this case is whether the Seventh Amendment grants petitioners a right to a jury trial. We hold unequivocally that it does.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).