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Section 1291 of the Judicial Code generally vests courts of appeals with jurisdiction over appeals from 'final decisions' of the district courts. It descends from the Judiciary Act of 1789, where 'the First Congress established the principle that only 'final judgments and decrees' of the federal district courts may be reviewed on appeal.' Midland Asphalt Corp. v. United States, 489 U. S. 794, 798 (1989) (quoting 1 Stat. 84); see generally Crick, The Final Judgment as a Basis for Appeal, 41 Yale L. J. 539, 548-551 (1932) (discussing history of final judgment rule in the United States). In accord with this historical understanding, the Court has repeatedly interpreted § 1291 to mean that an appeal ordinarily will not lie until after final judgment has been entered in a case. See, e. g., Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U. S. 706, 712 (1996); Digital Equipment Corp. v. Desktop Direct, Inc., 511 U. S. 863, 867 (1994); Richardson-Merrell Inc. v. Koller, 472 U. S. 424, 430 (1985). As explained in Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Risjord, 449 U. S. 368 (1981), the final judgment rule serves several salutary purposes: 'It emphasizes the deference that appellate courts ...

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