This case presents the question whether a private individual may bring suit in federal court on behalf of the United States against a State (or state agency) under the False Claims Act, 31 U. S. C. §§ 3729-3733.
Originally enacted in 1863, the False Claims Act (FCA) is the most frequently used of a handful of extant laws creating a form of civil action known as qui tam.
If a relator initiates the FCA action, he must deliver a copy of the complaint, and any supporting evidence, to the Government, § 3730(b)(2), which then has 60 days to intervene in the action, §§ 3730(b)(2), (4). If it does so, it assumes primary responsibility for prosecuting the action, § 3730(c)(1), though the relator may continue to participate in the litigation and is entitled to a hearing before voluntary dismissal and to a court determination of reasonableness before settlement, § 3730(c)(2). If the Government declines to intervene within the 60-day period, the relator has the exclusive right to conduct the action, § 3730(b)(4), and the Government may subsequently intervene only on a showing of "good cause," § 3730(c)(3). The relator receives a share of any proceeds from the action—generally ranging from 15
Respondent Jonathan Stevens brought this qui tam action in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont against petitioner Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, his former employer, alleging that it had submitted false claims to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in connection with various federal grant programs administered by the EPA. Specifically, he claimed that petitioner had overstated the amount of time spent by its employees on the federally funded projects, thereby inducing the Government to disburse more grant money than petitioner was entitled to receive. The United States declined to intervene in the action. Petitioner then moved to dismiss, arguing that a State (or state agency) is not a "person" subject to liability under the FCA and that a qui tam action in federal court against a State is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The District Court denied the motion in an unpublished order. App. to Pet. for Cert. 86-87. Petitioner then filed an interlocutory appeal,
We first address the jurisdictional question whether respondent Stevens has standing under Article III of the Constitution to maintain this suit. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 93-102 (1998).
As we have frequently explained, a plaintiff must meet three requirements in order to establish Article III standing. See, e. g., Friends of Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-181 (2000). First, he must demonstrate "injury in fact"—a harm that is both "concrete" and "actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 155 (1990) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Second, he must establish causation—a "fairly . . . trace[able]" connection between the alleged injury in fact and the alleged conduct of the defendant. Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26, 41 (1976). And third, he must demonstrate redressability—a "substantial likelihood" that the requested relief will remedy the alleged injury in fact. Id., at 45. These requirements together constitute the "irreducible constitutional minimum" of standing, Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992), which is an "essential and unchanging part" of Article III's case-orcontroversy requirement, ibid., and a key factor in dividing the power of government between the courts and the two political branches, see id., at 559-560.
Respondent Stevens contends that he is suing to remedy an injury in fact suffered by the United States. It is beyond doubt that the complaint asserts an injury to the United States—both the injury to its sovereignty arising from violation of its laws (which suffices to support a criminal lawsuit by the Government) and the proprietary injury resulting from the alleged fraud. But "[t]he Art. III judicial power exists only to redress or otherwise to protect against injury to the complaining party. " Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490,
There is no doubt, of course, that as to this portion of the recovery—the bounty he will receive if the suit is successful—a qui tam relator has a "concrete private interest in the outcome of [the] suit." Lujan, supra, at 573. But the same might be said of someone who has placed a wager upon the outcome. An interest unrelated to injury in fact is insufficient to give a plaintiff standing. See Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 486 (1982); Sierra Club, supra, at 734-735. The interest must consist of obtaining compensation for, or preventing, the violation of a legally protected
We believe, however, that adequate basis for the relator's suit for his bounty is to be found in the doctrine that the assignee of a claim has standing to assert the injury in fact suffered by the assignor. The FCA can reasonably be regarded as effecting a partial assignment of the Government's damages claim.
We are confirmed in this conclusion by the long tradition of qui tam actions in England and the American Colonies. That history is particularly relevant to the constitutional standing inquiry since, as we have said elsewhere, Article III's restriction of the judicial power to "Cases" and "Controversies" is properly understood to mean "cases and controversies of the sort traditionally amenable to, and resolved by, the judicial process." Steel Co., 523 U. S., at 102; see also Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 460 (1939) (opinion of Frankfurter, J.) (the Constitution established that "[j]udicial power could come into play only in matters that were the traditional concern of the courts at Westminster and only if they arose in ways that to the expert feel of lawyers constituted `Cases' or `Controversies' ").
Qui tam actions appear to have originated around the end of the 13th century, when private individuals who had suffered injury began bringing actions in the royal courts on both their own and the Crown's behalf. See, e. g., Prior of Lewes v. De Holt (1300), reprinted in 48 Selden Society 198 (1931). Suit in this dual capacity was a device for getting their private claims into the respected royal courts, which generally entertained only matters involving the Crown's interests. See Milsom, Trespass from Henry III to Edward III, Part III: More Special Writs and Conclusions,
At about the same time, however, Parliament began enacting statutes that explicitly provided for qui tam suits. These were of two types: those that allowed injured parties to sue in vindication of their own interests (as well as the Crown's), see, e. g., Statute Providing a Remedy for Him Who Is Wrongfully Pursued in the Court of Admiralty, 2 Hen. IV, ch. 11 (1400), and—more relevant here—those that allowed informers to obtain a portion of the penalty as a bounty for their information, even if they had not suffered an injury themselves, see, e. g., Statute Prohibiting the Sale of Wares After the Close of Fair, 5 Edw. III, ch. 5 (1331); see generally Common Informers Act, 14 & 15 Geo. VI, ch. 39, sched. (1951) (listing informer statutes). Most, though not all, of the informer statutes expressly gave the informer a cause of action, typically by bill, plaint, information, or action of debt. See, e. g., Bill for Leases of Hospitals, Colleges, and Other Corporations, 33 Hen. VIII, ch. 27 (1541); Act to Avoid Horse-Stealing, 31 Eliz. I, ch. 12, § 2 (1589); Act to Prevent the Over-Charge of the People by Stewards of Court-Leets and Court-Barons, 2 Jac. I, ch. 5 (1604).
For obvious reasons, the informer statutes were highly subject to abuse, see M. Davies, The Enforcement of English Apprenticeship 58-61 (1956)—particularly those relating to obsolete offenses, see generally 3 E. Coke, Institutes of the Laws of England 191 (4th ed. 1797) (informer prosecutions under obsolete statutes had been used to "vex and entangle the subject"). Thus, many of the old enactments were repealed, see Act for Continuing and Reviving of Divers Statutes and Repeal of Divers Others, 21 Jac. I, ch. 28, § 11
Qui tam actions appear to have been as prevalent in America as in England, at least in the period immediately before and after the framing of the Constitution. Although there is no evidence that the Colonies allowed commonlaw qui tam actions (which, as we have noted, were dying out in England by that time), they did pass several informer statutes expressly authorizing qui tam suits. See, e. g., Act for the Restraining and Punishing of Privateers and Pirates, 1st Assembly, 4th Sess. (N. Y. 1692), reprinted in 1 Colonial Laws of New York 279, 281 (1894) (allowing informers to sue for, and receive share of, fine imposed upon officers who neglect their duty to pursue privateers and pirates). Moreover, immediately after the framing, the First Congress enacted a considerable number of informer statutes.
We think this history well nigh conclusive with respect to the question before us here: whether qui tam actions were "cases and controversies of the sort traditionally amenable to, and resolved by, the judicial process." Steel Co., 523
Petitioner makes two contentions: (1) that a State (or state agency) is not a "person" subject to qui tam liability under the FCA; and (2) that if it is, the Eleventh Amendment bars such a suit. The Courts of Appeals have disagreed as to the order in which these statutory and Eleventh Amendment immunity questions should be addressed. Compare United States ex rel. Long v. SCS Business & Technical Institute, Inc., 173 F.3d 890, 893-898 (CADC 1999) (statutory question first), with United States ex rel. Foulds v. Texas Tech Univ., 171 F.3d 279, 285-288 (CA5 1999) (Eleventh Amendment immunity question first).
Questions of jurisdiction, of course, should be given priority—since if there is no jurisdiction there is no authority to sit in judgment of anything else. See Steel Co., supra, at 93-102. "Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the
We nonetheless have routinely addressed before the question whether the Eleventh Amendment forbids a particular statutory cause of action to be asserted against States, the question whether the statute itself permits the cause of action it creates to be asserted against States (which it can do only by clearly expressing such an intent). See, e. g., Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 73-78 (2000); Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 55-57 (1996); cf. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25-31 (1991); Mt. Healthy City Bd. of Ed. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 277-281 (1977). When these two questions are at issue, not only is the statutory question "logically antecedent to the existence of" the Eleventh Amendment question, Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 612 (1997), but also there is no realistic possibility that addressing the statutory question will expand the Court's power beyond the limits that the jurisdictional restriction has imposed. The question whether the statute provides for suits against the States (as opposed, for example, to the broader question whether the statute creates any private cause of action whatever, or the question whether the facts alleged make out a "false claim" under the statute) does not, as a practical matter, permit the court to pronounce upon any issue, or upon the rights of any person, beyond the issues and persons that would be reached under the Eleventh Amendment inquiry anyway. The ultimate issue in the statutory inquiry is whether States can be sued under this statute; and the ultimate issue in the Eleventh Amendment inquiry is whether unconsenting States can be sued under this statute. This combination of logical priority
The relevant provision of the FCA, 31 U. S. C. § 3729(a), subjects to liability "[a]ny person" who, inter alia, "knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, to an officer or employee of the United States Government . . . a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval." We must apply to this text our longstanding interpretive presumption that "person" does not include the sovereign. See United States v. Cooper Corp., 312 U.S. 600, 604 (1941); United States v. Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, 275 (1947).
As the historical context makes clear, and as we have often observed, the FCA was enacted in 1863 with the principal goal of "stopping the massive frauds perpetrated by large [private] contractors during the Civil War." United States v. Bornstein, 423 U.S. 303, 309 (1976); see also United States ex rel. Marcus v. Hess, 317 U.S. 537, 547 (1943).
Although the liability provision of the original FCA has undergone various changes, none of them suggests a broadening of the term "person" to include States. In 1982, Congress made a housekeeping change, replacing the phrase "any person not in the military or naval forces of the United States, nor in the militia called into or actually employed in the service of the United States" with the phrase "[a] person not a member of an armed force of the United States," thereby incorporating the term of art "member of an armed force" used throughout Title 10 of the United States Code. 31 U. S. C. § 3729 (1982 ed.). And in 1986, Congress eliminated the blanket exemption for members of the Armed Forces, replacing the phrase "[a] person not a member of an
Several features of the current statutory scheme further support the conclusion that States are not subject to qui tam liability. First, another section of the FCA, 31 U. S. C. § 3733, which enables the Attorney General to issue civil investigative demands to "any person . . . possessi[ng] information relevant to a false claims law investigation," § 3733(a)(1),
Second, the current version of the FCA imposes damages that are essentially punitive in nature, which would be inconsistent
Third, the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (PFCRA), a sister scheme creating administrative remedies for false claims—and enacted just before the FCA was amended in 1986—contains (unlike the FCA) a definition of "persons" subject to liability, and that definition does not include States. See 31 U. S. C. § 3801(a)(6) (defining "person" as "any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or private organization"). It would be most peculiar to subject States to treble damages and civil penalties in qui tam actions under the FCA, but exempt them from the relatively smaller damages provided under the PFCRA. See § 3802(a)(1).
* * *
We hold that a private individual has standing to bring suit in federal court on behalf of the United States under the False Claims Act, 31 U. S. C. §§ 3729-3733, but that the
It is so ordered.
Justice Breyer, concurring.
I join the opinion of the Court in full. I also join the opinion of Justice Ginsburg.
Justice Ginsburg, with whom Justice Breyer joins, concurring in the judgment.
I join the Court's judgment and here state the extent to which I subscribe to the Court's opinion.
I agree with the Court that the qui tam relator is properly regarded as an assignee of a portion of the Government's claim for damages. See ante, at 773. And I agree, most vitally, that "Article III's restriction of the judicial power to `Cases' and `Controversies' is properly understood to mean `cases and controversies of the sort traditionally amenable to, and resolved by, the judicial process.' " Ante, at 774. On that key matter, I again agree that history's pages place the qui tam suit safely within the "case" or "controversy" category. See ante, at 774-778.
In Steel Co. v. Citizens for Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83 (1998), I reasoned that if Congress did not authorize a citizen suit, a court should dismiss the citizen suitor's complaint without opining "on the constitutionality of what Congress might have done, but did not do." Id., at 134 (opinion concurring in judgment). I therefore agree that the Court properly turns first to the statutory question here presented: Did Congress authorize qui tam suits against the States. Concluding that Congress did not authorize such suits, the Court has no cause to engage in an Eleventh Amendment inquiry, and appropriately leaves that issue open.
I do not find in the False Claims Act any clear statement subjecting the States to qui tam suits brought by private
Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Souter joins, dissenting.
In 1986, Congress amended the False Claims Act (FCA or Act) to create a new procedure known as a "civil investigative demand," which allows the Attorney General to obtain documentary evidence "for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is or has been engaged in" a violation of the Act—including a violation of 31 U. S. C. § 3729. The 1986 amendments also declare that a "person" who could engage in a violation of § 3729—thereby triggering the civil investigative demand provision—includes "any State or political subdivision of a State." See § 6(a), 100 Stat. 3168 (codified at 31 U. S. C. §§ 3733(l )(1)(A), (2), (4)). In my view, this statutory text makes it perfectly clear that Congress intended the term "person" in § 3729 to include States. This understanding is supported by the legislative history of the 1986 amendments, and is fully consistent with this Court's construction of federal statutes in cases decided before those amendments were enacted.
Since the FCA was amended in 1986, however, the Court has decided a series of cases that cloak the States with an increasingly protective mantle of "sovereign immunity" from
Cases decided before 1986 uniformly support the proposition that the broad language used in the FCA means what it says. Although general statutory references to "persons" are not normally construed to apply to the enacting sovereign, United States v. Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, 275 (1947), when Congress uses that word in federal statutes enforceable by the Federal Government or by a federal agency, it applies to States and state agencies as well as to private individuals and corporations. Thus, for example, the word "person" in the Sherman Act does not include the sovereign that enacted the statute (the Federal Government), United States v. Cooper Corp., 312 U.S. 600 (1941), but it does include the States, Georgia v. Evans, 316 U.S. 159 (1942). Similarly, States are subject to regulation as a "person" within the meaning of the Shipping Act of 1916, California v. United States, 320 U.S. 577 (1944), and as a "common carrier" within the meaning of the Safety Appliance Act, United States v. California, 297 U.S. 175 (1936). In the latter case, the State of California "invoke[d] the canon of construction that a sovereign is presumptively not intended to be bound" by a statute unless the Act expressly declares that to be the case. Id., at 186. We rejected the applicability of that canon, stating:
The False Claims Act is also all-embracing in scope, national in its purpose, and as capable of being violated by state as by individual action.
Thus, in United States v. Neifert-White Co., 390 U.S. 228, 232 (1968), after noting that the Act was passed as a result of investigations of the fraudulent use of federal funds during the Civil War, we inferred "that the Act was intended to reach all types of fraud, without qualification, that might result in financial loss to the Government." See also Rainwater v. United States, 356 U.S. 590, 592 (1958) ("It seems quite clear that the objective of Congress [in the FCA] was broadly to protect the funds and property of the Government from fraudulent claims"); H. R. Rep. No. 99-660, p. 18 (1986) ("[T]he False Claims Act is used as . . . the primary vehicle by the Government for recouping losses suffered through fraud"). Indeed, the fact that Congress has authorized qui tam actions by private individuals to supplement the remedies available to the Federal Government provides additional evidence of its intent to reach all types of fraud that cause financial loss to the Federal Government. Finally, the
The legislative history of the 1986 amendments discloses that both federal and state officials understood that States were "persons" within the meaning of the statute. Thus, in a section of the 1986 Senate Report describing the history of the Act, the committee unequivocally stated that the Act reaches all parties who may submit false claims and that "[t]he term `person' is used in its broad sense to include partnerships, associations, and corporations . . . as well as States and political subdivisions thereof." S. Rep. No. 99— 345, pp. 8-9.
In sum, it is quite clear that when the 1986 amendments were adopted, there was a general understanding that States and state agencies were "persons" within the meaning of the Act.
The text of the 1986 amendments confirms the pre-existing understanding. The most significant part of the amendments is the enactment of a new § 3733 granting authority to the Attorney General to issue a civil investigative demand (CID) before commencing a civil proceeding on behalf of the United States. A series of interwoven definitions in § 3733 unambiguously demonstrates that a State is a "person" who can violate § 3729.
Section 3733 authorizes the Attorney General to issue a CID when she is conducting a "false claims law investigation." § 3733(a). A "false claims law investigation" is defined as an investigation conducted "for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is or has been engaged in any violation of a false claims law." § 3733(l )(2) (emphasis added). And a "false claims law" includes § 3729—the provision at issue in this case. § 3733(l )(1)(A). Quite plainly, these provisions contemplate that any "person" may be engaged
Elsewhere in the False Claims Act the term "person" includes States as well. For example, § 3730 of the Act— both before and after the 1986 amendments—uses the word "person" twice. First, subsection (a) of § 3730 directs the Attorney General to investigate violations of § 3729, and provides that if she "finds that a person has violated or is violating" that section, she may bring a civil action "under this section against the person. " (Emphases added.) Second, subsection (b) of § 3730 also uses the word "person," though for a different purpose; in that subsection the word is used to describe the plaintiffs who may bring qui tam actions on behalf of themselves and the United States.
Quite clearly, a State is a "person" against whom the Attorney General may proceed under § 3730(a).
To recapitulate, it is undisputed that (under the CID provision) a State is a "person" who may violate § 3729; that a State is a "person" who may be named as a defendant in an action brought by the Attorney General; and that a State is a "person" who may bring a qui tam action on behalf of the United States. It therefore seems most natural to read the adjacent uses of the term "person" in §§ 3729, 3730(a), 3730(b), and 3733 to cover the same category of defendants. See United States v. Cooper Corp., 312 U. S., at 606 ("It is hardly credible that Congress used the term `person' in different senses in the same sentence"). And it seems even more natural to read the single word "person" (describing who may commit a violation under § 3729) to have one consistent meaning regardless of whether the action against that violator is brought under § 3730(a) or under § 3730(b). See Ratzlaf v. United States, 510 U.S. 135, 143 (1994) ("A term appearing in several places in a statutory text is generally read the same way each time it appears. We have even stronger cause to construe a single formulation . . . the same way each time it is called into play" (citation omitted)). Absent powerful arguments to the contrary, it should follow that a State may be named as a defendant in an action brought by an assignee of the United States. Rather than pointing to any such powerful arguments, however, the Court comes to a contrary conclusion on the basis of an inapplicable presumption and rather strained inferences drawn from three different statutory provisions.
The Court's principal argument relies on "our longstanding interpretive presumption that `person' does not include the sovereign." Ante, at 780. As discussed earlier, that
The Court's first textual argument is based on the fact that the definition of the term "person" included in § 3733's CID provision expressly includes States. "The presence of such a definitional provision in § 3733," the Court argues, "together with the absence of such a provision from the definitional provisions contained in § 3729 . . . suggests that States are not `persons' for purposes of qui tam liability under § 3729." Ante, at 784. Leaving aside the fact that § 3733's definition actually cuts in the opposite direction, see supra, at 795-796, this argument might carry some weight if the definitional provisions in § 3729 included some definition of "person" but simply neglected to mention States. But the definitional provisions in § 3729 do not include
The Court also relies on the definition of "person" in a separate, but similar, statute, the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (PFCRA). Ante, at 786. The definition of "person" found in that law includes "any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or private organization." 31 U. S. C. § 3801(a)(6). It is first worth pointing out the obvious: Although the PFCRA sits next to the FCA in the United States Code, they are separate statutes. It is therefore not altogether clear why the former has much bearing on the latter.
Finally, the Court relies on the fact that the current version of the FCA includes a treble damages remedy that is "essentially punitive in nature." Ante, at 784. Citing Newport v. Fact Concerts, Inc., 453 U.S. 247, 262-263 (1981), the Court invokes the "presumption against imposition of punitive damages on governmental entities." Ante, at 785. But as Newport explains, "courts vie[w] punitive damages [against governmental bodies] as contrary to sound public policy, because such awards would burden the very taxpayers
Each of the constitutional issues identified in the Court's opinion requires only a brief comment. The historical evidence summarized by the Court, ante, at 774-778, is obviously sufficient to demonstrate that qui tam actions are "cases" or "controversies" within the meaning of Article III. That evidence, together with the evidence that private prosecutions were commonplace in the 19th century, see Steel Co. v. Citizens for Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 127-128, and nn. 24-25 (1998) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment), is also sufficient to resolve the Article II question that the Court has introduced sua sponte, ante, at 778, n. 8.
As for the State's "Eleventh Amendment" sovereign immunity defense, I adhere to the view that Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996), was wrongly decided. See Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 97-99 (2000) (Stevens, J., dissenting); Seminole Tribe, 517 U. S., at 100-185 (Souter, J., dissenting). Accordingly, Congress' clear intention to subject States to qui tam actions is also
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the National WhistleBlower Center by Stephen M. Kohn, Michael D. Kohn, and David K. Colapinto; and for Taxpayers Against Fraud by Evan H. Caminker and Jonathan S. Massey.
Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the Aerospace Industries Association of America, Inc., by Charles G. Cole, Jerald S. Howe, Jr., and Shannen W. Coffin; for the American Clinical Laboratory Association by Hope S. Foster; for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. by Herbert L. Fenster, Stephen A. Bokat, and Robin S. Conrad; for the Federation of American Health Systems by Walter E. Dellinger and Charles R. Work; for Friends of the Earth et al. by James S. Chandler, Jr., Bruce J. Terris, and Carolyn Smith Pravlik; for the National Employment Lawyers Association by Frederick M. Morgan, Jr., James B. Helmer, Jr., and Paula A. Brantner; for the Project on Government Oversight by Charles Tiefer and Jonathan W. Cuneo; and for Taxpayers Against Fraud by Evan H. Caminker and Vicki C. Jackson.
Three other qui tam statutes, all also enacted over 100 years ago, remain on the books. See 25 U. S. C. § 81 (providing cause of action and share of recovery against a person contracting with Indians in an unlawful manner); § 201 (providing cause of action and share of recovery against a person violating Indian protection laws); 35 U. S. C. § 292(b) (providing cause of action and share of recovery against a person falsely marking patented articles); cf. 18 U. S. C. § 962 (providing for forfeiture to informer of share of vessels privately armed against friendly nations, but not expressly authorizing suit by informer); 46 U. S. C. § 723 (providing for forfeiture to informer of share of vessels removing undersea treasure from the Florida coast to foreign nations, but not expressly authorizing suit by informer).
We have suggested, in dictum, that "[s]tatutes providing for a reward to informers which do not specifically either authorize or forbid the informer to institute the action are construed to authorize him to sue." United States ex rel. Marcus v. Hess, 317 U.S. 537, 541, n. 4 (1943).
The dissent implicitly attacks us for "introduc[ing] [this question] sua sponte. " Post, at 801. We raise the question, however, only to make clear that it is not at issue in this case. It is only the dissent that proceeds to volunteer an answer. See post, at 801-802.
The dissent contends that "[t]he reason for presuming that an enacting sovereign does not intend to authorize litigation against itself simply does not apply to federal statutes that apply equally to state agencies and private entities." Post, at 798. That is true enough, but in the American system there is a different reason, equally valid. While the States do not have the immunity against federally authorized suit that international law has traditionally accorded foreign sovereigns, see National City Bank of N. Y. v. Republic of China, 348 U.S. 356, 358-359 (1955), they are sovereigns nonetheless, and both comity and respect for our federal system demand that something more than mere use of the word "person" demonstrate the federal intent to authorize unconsented private suit against them. In any event, Justice Stevens fought and lost this battle in Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989), in which the Court applied the presumption to a federal statute when the "person" at issue was a State. See id., at 64; but see id., at 73 (Brennan, J., dissenting, joined by Marshall, Blackmun, and Stevens, JJ.). Moreover, Justice Stevens actually joined the Court's opinion in Wilson v. Omaha Tribe, 442 U.S. 653 (1979), in which the Court likewise applied the presumption to a federal statute in a case involving a State. See id., at 667. (Wilson is omitted from the dissent's discussion of "[c]ases decided before 1986," which it claims "uniformly support" its reading of the statute. Post, at 790.)
The dissent contradicts its contention that the "intent" of the 1986 Congress, rather than that of the 1863 Congress, controls here, by relying heavily on a House Committee Report from 1862. Post, at 791-792 (citing H. R. Rep. No. 2, 37th Cong., 2d Sess., pt. ii—a, pp. xxxviii—xxxix (1862)). Even for those disposed to allow the meaning of a statute to be determined by a single committee, that Report is utterly irrelevant, since it was not prepared in connection with the 1863 Act, or indeed in connection with any proposed false claims legislation. In repeating the Second Circuit's unsupported assertion that Congress must have had this Report in mind a year later when it enacted the FCA, the dissent asks us to indulge even a greater suspension of disbelief than legislative history normally requires. And finally, this irrelevant committee Report does not provide the promised support for the view that "[t]he False Claims Act is . . . as capable of being violated by state as by individual action," post, at 791. The cited portion details a single incident of fraud by a state official against a State, not an incident of fraud by a State against the Federal Government.
The dissent attempts to explain the absence of a definitional provision in § 3729 by suggesting that Congress "simply saw no need to add a definition of `person' in § 3729 because . . . the meaning of the term `person' was already well understood." Post, at 799. If that were so, and if the "understanding" included States, there would have been no need to include a definition of "person" in § 3733 .
Congress, however, thought differently: "In enacting section 106(c), Congress intended . . . to make the States subject to a money judgment. But the Supreme Court in Hoffman v. Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance, 492 U.S. 96 (1989), held [otherwise.] In using such a narrow construction, the Court . . . did not find in the text of the statute an `unmistakenly clear' intent of Congress to waive sovereign immunity . . . . The Court applied this reasoning in United States v. Nordic Village, Inc. " See 140 Cong. Rec. 27693 (1994). Congress therefore overruled both of those decisions by enacting the current version of 11 U. S. C. § 106.
Petitioner further argues that the text of the FCA as it was originally enacted in 1863 could not have included States as "persons," and therefore the Senate's understanding of the pre-1986 Act was erroneous. See also ante, at 778. Assuming for argument's sake that the Senate incorrectly ascertained what Congress meant in 1863, petitioner's argument is beside the point. The term "person" in § 3729(a) that we are interpreting today was enacted by the 1986 Congress, not by the 1863 Congress. See 100 Stat. 3153 (deleting entirely the previously existing introductory clause in § 3729, including the phrase "[a] person not a member of an armed force of the United States" and replacing it with the new phrase "[a]ny person"). Therefore, even if the 1986 Congress were mistaken about what a previous Legislature had meant by the word "person," it clearly expressed its own view that when the 1986 Congress itself enacted the word "person" (and not merely the word "any" as the Court insists, ante, at 783, n. 12), it meant the reference to include States. There is not the least bit of contradiction (as the Court suggests, ibid. ) in one Congress informing itself of the general understanding of a statutory term it enacts based on its own (perhaps erroneous) understanding of what a past Congress thought the term meant.