Annotation 21 - Article III

  FEDERAL-STATE COURT RELATIONS

  Problems Raised by Concurrency

The Constitution established a system of government in which total power, sovereignty, was not unequivocally lodged in one level of government. In Chief Justice Marshall's words, ''our complex system [presents] the rare and difficult scheme of one general government, whose actions extend over the whole, but which possesses only certain enumerated powers, and of numerous state governments, which retain and exercise all powers not delegated to the Union. . . .'' Naturally, in such a system, ''contests respecting power must arise.'' 1124 Contests respecting power may frequently arise in a federal system with dual structures of courts exercising concurrent jurisdiction in a number of classes of cases. Too, the possibilities of frictions grow out of the facts that one set of courts may interfere directly or indirectly with the other through injunctive and declaratory processes, through the use of habeas corpus and removal to release persons from the custody of the other set, and through the refusal by state courts to be bound by decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The relations between federal and state courts are governed in part by constitutional law, with respect, say, to state court interference with federal courts and state court refusal to comply with the judgments of federal tribunals, in part by statutes, with respect to the federal law generally enjoining federal-court interference with pending state court proceedings, and in part by self-imposed rules of comity and restraint, such as the abstention doctrine, all applied to avoid unseemly conflicts, which, however, have at times occurred.

Subject to congressional provision to the contrary, state courts have concurrent jurisdiction over all the classes of cases and controversies enumerated in Article III, except suits between States, those to which the United States is a party, those to which a foreign state is a party, and those within the traditional admiralty jurisdiction. 1125 Even within this last category, however, state courts, though unable to prejudice the harmonious operation and uniformity of general maritime law, 1126 have concurrent jurisdiction over cases that occur within the maritime jurisdiction when such litigation assumes the form of a suit at common law. 1127 Review of state court decisions by the United States Supreme Court is intended to protect the federal interest and promote uniformity of law and decision relating to the federal interest. 1128 The first category of conflict surfaces here. The second broader category arises from the fact that state interests, actions, and wishes, all of which may at times be effectuated through state courts, are variously subject to restraint by federal courts. Although the possibility always existed, 1129 it became much more significant and likely when, in the wake of the Civil War, Congress bestowed general fed eral question jurisdiction on the federal courts, 1130 enacted a series of civil rights statutes and conferred jurisdiction on the federal courts to enforce them, 1131 and most important of all proposed and saw to the ratification of the three constitutional amendments, especially the Fourteenth, which made subject to federal scrutiny an ever- increasing number of state actions. 1132  

  The Autonomy of State Courts

  Noncompliance With and Disobedience of Supreme Court Orders by State Courts .--The United States Supreme Court when deciding cases on review from the state courts usually remands the case to the state court when it reverses for ''proceedings not inconsistent'' with the Court's opinion. This disposition leaves open the possibility that unresolved issues of state law will be decided adversely to the party prevailing in the Supreme Court or that the state court will so interpret the facts or the Court's opinion to the detriment of the party prevailing in the Supreme Court. 1133 When it is alleged that the state court has deviated from the Supreme Court's mandate, the party losing below may appeal again 1134 or she may presumably apply for mandamus to compel compliance. 1135 Statutorily, the Court may attempt to overcome state recalcitrance by a variety of specific forms of judgment. 1136 If, however, the state courts simply defy the mandate of the Court, difficult problems face the Court, extending to the possibility of contempt citations. 1137  

The most spectacular disobedience of federal authority arose out of the conflict between the Cherokees and the State of Georgia, which was seeking to remove them and seize their lands, with the active support of President Jackson. 1138 In the first instance, after the Court had issued a writ of error to the Georgia Supreme Court to review the murder conviction of a Cherokee, Corn Tassel, and after the writ was served, Corn Tassel was executed on the day set for the event, contrary to the federal law that a writ of error superseded sentence until the appeal was decided. 1139 Two years later, Georgia again defied the Court when in Worcester v. Georgia, 1140 it set aside the conviction of two missionaries for residing among the Indians without a license. Despite the issuance of a special mandate to a local court to discharge the missionaries, they were not released, and the State's governor loudly proclaimed resistance. Consequently, the two remained in jail until they agreed to abandon further efforts for their discharge by federal authority and to leave the State, whereupon the governor pardoned them.

  Use of State Courts in Enforcement of Federal Law .--Although the states-rights proponents in the Convention and in the First Congress wished to leave to the state courts the enforcement of federal law and rights rather than to create inferior federal courts, 1141 it was not long before they or their successors began to argue that state courts could not be required to adjudicate cases based on federal law. The practice in the early years was to make the jurisdiction of federal courts generally concurrent with that of state courts, 1142 and early Congresses imposed positive duties on state courts to enforce federal laws. 1143 Reaction set in out of hostility to the Embargo Acts, the Fugitive Slave Law, and other measures, 1144 and in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 1145 involving the Fugitive Slave Law, the Court indicated that the States could not be compelled to enforce federal law. After a long period, however, Congress resumed its former practice, 1146 which the Court sustained, 1147 and it went even further in the Federal Employers' Liability Act by not only giving state courts concurrent jurisdiction but also by prohibiting the removal of cases begun in state courts to the federal courts. 1148  

When Connecticut courts refused to enforce an FELA claim on the ground that to do so was contrary to the public policy of the State, the Court held on the basis of the supremacy clause that when Congress enacts a law and declares a national policy, that policy is as much Connecticut's and every other State's as it is of the collective United States. 1149 The Court's suggestion that the Act could be enforced ''as of right, in the courts of the States when their jurisdiction, as prescribed by local laws, is adequate to the occasion,'' 1150 leaving the impression that state practice might in some instances preclude enforcement in state courts, was given body when the Court upheld New York's refusal to adjudicate an FELA claim which fell in a class of cases in which claims under state law would not be entertained. 1151 ''[T]here is nothing in the Act of Congress that purports to force a duty upon such Courts as against an otherwise valid excuse.'' 1152 However, ''[a]n excuse that is inconsistent with or violates federal law is not a valid excuse. . . .'' 1153  

In Testa v. Katt, 1154 the Court unanimously held that state courts, at least in regard to claims and cases analogous to claims and cases enforceable in those courts under state law, are as required to enforce penal laws of the United States as they are to enforce remedial laws. Respecting Rhode Island's claim that one sovereign cannot enforce the penal laws of another, Justice Black observed that the assumption underlying this claim flew ''in the face of the fact that the States of the Union constitute a nation'' and the fact of the existence of the supremacy clause. 1155  

  State Interference with Federal Jurisdiction .--It seems settled, though not without dissent, that state courts have no power to enjoin proceedings 1156 or effectuation of judgments 1157 of the federal courts, with the exception of cases in which a state court has custody of property in proceedings in rem or quasi in rem, where the state court has exclusive jurisdiction to proceed and may enjoin parties from further action in federal court. 1158  

  Conflicts of Jurisdiction: Rules of Accommodation

Federal courts primarily interfere with state courts in three ways: by enjoining proceedings in them, by issuing writs of habeas corpus to set aside convictions obtained in them, and by adjudicating cases removed from them. With regard to all three but particularly with regard to the first, there have been developed certain rules plus a statutory limitation designed to minimize needless conflict.

  Comity .--''[T]he notion of 'comity,''' Justice Black asserted, is composed of ''a proper respect for state functions, a recognition of the fact that the entire country is made up of a Union of separate state governments, and a continuance of the belief that the National Government will fare best if the States and their institutions are left free to perform their separate functions in their separate ways. This, perhaps for lack of a better and clearer way to describe it, is referred to by many as 'Our Federalism'. . . .'' 1159 Comity is a self-imposed rule of judicial restraint whereby independent tribunals of concurrent or coordinate jurisdiction act to moderate the stresses of coexistence and to avoid collisions of authority. It is not a rule of law but ''one of practice, convenience, and expediency'' 1160 which persuades but does not command.

  Abstention .--Perhaps the fullest expression of the concept of comity may be found in the abstention doctrine. The abstention doctrine instructs federal courts to abstain from exercising jurisdiction if applicable state law, which would be dispositive of the controversy, is unclear and a state court interpretation of the state law question might obviate the necessity of deciding a federal constitutional issue. 1161 Abstention is not proper, however, where the rel evant state law is settled, 1162 nor where it is clear that the state statute or action challenged is unconstitutional no matter how the state court construes state law. 1163 Federal jurisdiction is not ousted by abstention; rather it is postponed. 1164 Federal-state tensions would be ameliorated through federal-court deference to the concept that state courts are as adequate a protector of constitutional liberties as the federal courts and through the minimization of the likelihood that state programs would be thwarted by federal intercession. Federal courts would benefit because time and effort would not be expended in decision of difficult constitutional issues which might not require decision. 1165  

During the 1960s, the abstention doctrine was in disfavor with the Supreme Court, suffering rejection in numerous cases, most of them civil rights and civil liberties cases. 1166 Time-consuming delays 1167 and piecemeal resolution of important questions 1168 were cited as a too-costly consequence of the doctrine. Actions brought under the civil rights statutes seem not to have been wholly subject to the doctrine, 1169 and for awhile cases involving First Amendment expression guarantees seemed to be sheltered as well, but this is no longer the rule. 1170 Abstention developed robustly with Younger v. Harris, 1171 and its progeny.

  Exhaustion of State Remedies .--A complainant will ordinarily be required, as a matter of comity, to exhaust all his state legislative and administrative remedies before seeking relief in federal court where such remedies are, of course, available. 1172 To do so may make unnecessary federal-court adjudication. The complainant will ordinarily not be required, however, to exhaust his state judicial remedies, inasmuch as it is a litigant's choice to proceed in either state or federal courts when the alternatives exist and a question for judicial adjudication is present. 1173 But when a litigant is suing for protection of federally-guaranteed civil rights, he need not exhaust any kind of state remedy. 1174  

  Anti-Injunction Statute .--For reasons unknown, 1175 Congress in 1793 enacted a statute to prohibit the issuance of injunctions by federal courts to stay state court proceedings. 1176 Over time, a long list of exceptions to the statutory bar was created by judicial decision, 1177 but in Toucey v. New York Life Ins. Co., 1178 the Court in a lengthy opinion by Justice Frankfurter announced a very liberal interpretation of the anti-junction statute so as to do away with practically all the exceptions that had been created. Congress' response was to redraft the statute and to indicate that it was restoring the pre-Toucey interpretation. 1179 Considerable disagreement exists over the application of the statute, however, and especially with regard to the exceptions permissible under its language. The present tendency appears to be to read the law expansively and the exceptions restrictively in the interest of preventing conflict with state courts. 1180 Nonetheless, some exceptions do exist, either expressly or implicitly in statutory language 1181 or through Court interpretation. 1182 The Court's general policy of application, however, seems to a considerable degree to effectuate what is now at least the major rationale of the statute, deference to state court adjudication of issues presented to them for decision. 1183  

  Res Judicata .--Both the Constitution and a contemporaneously- enacted statute require federal courts to give ''full faith and credit'' to state court judgments, to give, that is, preclusive effect to state court judgments when those judgments would be given preclusive effect by the courts of that State. 1184 The present Court views the interpretation of ''full faith and credit'' in the overall context of deference to state courts running throughout this section. ''Thus, res judicata and collateral estoppel not only reduce unnecessary litigation and foster reliance on adjudication, but also promote the comity between state and federal courts that has been recognized as a bulwark of the federal system.'' 1185 The Court in this case, after reviewing enactment of the statute that is now 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, held that Sec. 1983 is not an exception to the mandate of the res judicata statute. 1186 An exception to Sec. 1738 ''will not be recognized unless a later statute contains an express or implied partial repeal.'' 1187 Thus, a claimant who pursued his employment discrimination remedies through state administrative procedures, as the federal law requires her to do (within limits), and then appealed an adverse state agency decision to state court will be precluded from bringing her federal claim to federal court, since the federal court is obligated to give the state court decision ''full faith and credit.'' 1188  

  Three-Judge Court Act .--When the Court in Ex parte Young 1189 held that federal courts were not precluded by the Eleventh Amendment from restraining state officers from enforcing state laws determined to be in violation of the federal Constitution, serious efforts were made in Congress to take away the authority thus asserted, but the result instead was legislation providing that suits in which an interlocutory injunction was sought against the enforcement of state statutes by state officers were to be heard by a panel of three federal judges, rather than by a single district judge, with appeal direct to the Supreme Court. 1190 The provision was designed to assuage state feeling by vesting such determinations in a court more prestigious than a single- judge district court, to assure a more authoritative determination, and to prevent the assertion of individual predilections in sensitive and emotional areas. 1191 Because, however, of the heavy burden that convening a three-judge court placed on the judiciary and that the direct appeals placed on the Supreme Court, the provisions for such courts, save in cases ''when otherwise required by an Act of Congress'' 1192 or in cases involving state legislative or congressional districting, were repealed in Congress in 1976. 1193  

Footnotes

[Footnote 1124] Gibbons v. Ogden. 9 Wheat. (22 U.S.) 1.204-205 (1824).

[Footnote 1125] See 28 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 1251, 1331 et seq. Indeed, the presumption is that states courts enjoy concurrent jurisdiction, and Congress must explicity or implicitly confine jurisdiction to the federal courts to oust the state courts. See Gulf Offshore Co. v. Mobil Oil Corp., 453 U.S. 473, 477 -484 (1981); Tafflin v. Levitt, 493 U.S. 455 (1990); Yellow Freight System, Inc. v. Donnelly, 494 U.S. 820 (1990). Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction of the federal antitrust laws, even though Congress has not spoken expressly or impliedly. See General Investment Co. v. Lake Shore & Michigan Southern R. Co., 260 U.S. 261, 287 (1922). Justice Scalia has argued that, inasmuch as state courts have jurisdiction generally because federal law is law for them, Congress can provide exclusive federal jurisdiction only by explicit and affirmative statement in the text of the statute, Tafflin v. Levitt, supra, 469, but as can be seen that is not now the rule.

[Footnote 1126] Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205 (1917).

[Footnote 1127] Through the ''saving to suitors'' clause. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1333(1). See Madruga v. Superior Court, 346 U.S. 556, 560 -561 (1954).

[Footnote 1128] Supra, pp.597-598, 701-703. See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1257.

[Footnote 1129] E.g., by a suit against a State by a citizen of another State directly in the Supreme Court, Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) 419 (1793), which was overturned by the Eleventh Amendment; by suits in diversity or removal from state courts where diversity existed, 1 Stat. 78, 79; by suits by aliens on treaties, 1 Stat. 77, and, subsequently, by removal from state courts of certain actions. 3 Stat. 198. And for some unknown reason, Congress passed in 1793 a statute prohibiting federal court injunctions against state court proceedings. See Toucey v. New York Life Ins. Co., 314 U.S. 118, 120 -132 (1941).

[Footnote 1130] Act of March 3, 1875, 18 Stat. 470.

[Footnote 1131] Civil Rights Act of 1871, Sec. 1, 17 Stat. 13. The authorization for equitable relief is now 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, while jurisdiction is granted by 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1343.

[Footnote 1132] See H. Wechsler, The Nationalization of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (Austin: 1969).

[Footnote 1133] Hart & Wechsler, op. cit., n. 250, 518-521. Notable examples include Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304 (1816); Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 264 (1821); Ableman v. Booth, 62 U.S. (21 How.) 506 (1859). For studies, see Note, Final Disposition of State Court Decisions Reversed and Remanded by the Supreme Court, October Term 1931 to October Term 1940, 55 Harv. L. Rev. 1357 (1942); Note, Evasion of Supreme Court Mandates in Cases Remanded to State Courts Since 1941, 67 Harv. L. Rev. 1251 (1954); Schneider, State Court Evasion of United States Supreme Court Mandates: A Reconsideration of the Evidence, 7 Valp. L. Rev. 191 (1973).

[Footnote 1134] Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304 (1816). See 2 W. Crosskey, Politics and the Constitution in the History of the United States (Chicago: 1953), 785-817; 1 C. Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History (Boston: 1926), 442-453. For recent examples, see NAACP v. Alabama, 360 U.S. 240, 245 (1959); NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Flowers, 377 U.S. 288 (1964), after remand, 277 Ala. 89, 167 So. 2d 171 (1964); Stanton v. Stanton, 429 U.S. 501 (1977); General Atomic Co. v. Felter, 436 U.S. 493 (1978).

[Footnote 1135] It does not appear that mandamus has ever actually issued. See In re Blake, 175 U.S. 114 (1899); Ex parte Texas, 315 U.S. 8 (1942); Fisher v. Hurst, 333 U.S. 147 (1948); Lavender v. Clark, 329 U.S. 674 (1946); General Atomic Co. v. Felter, 436 U.S. 493 (1978).

[Footnote 1136] Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304 (1816); McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 437 (1819); Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1, 239 (1824); Williams v. Bruffy, 102 U.S. 248 (1880) (entry of judgment); Tyler v. Maguire, 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 253 (1873) (award of execution); Stanley v. Schwalby, 162 U.S. 255 (1896); Poindexter v. Greenhow, 114 U.S. 270 (1885) (remand with direction to enter a specific judgment). See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1651(a), 2106.

[Footnote 1137] See 18 U.S.C. Sec. 401. In United States v. Shipp, 203 U.S. 563 (1906), 214 U.S. 386 (1909); 215 U.S. 580 (1909), on action by the Attorney General, the Court appointed a commissioner to take testimony, rendered judgment of conviction, and imposed sentence on a state sheriff who had conspired with others to cause the lynching of a prisoner in his custody after the Court had allowed an appeal from a circuit court's denial of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A question whether a probate judge was guilty of contempt of an order of the Court in failing to place certain candidates on the ballot was certified to the district court, over the objections of Justices Douglas and Harlan, who wished to follow the Shipp practice. In re Herndon, 394 U.S. 399 (1969). See In re Herndon, 325 F. Supp. 779 (M.D. Ala. 1971).

[Footnote 1138] 1 C. Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History (Boston: 1926), 729-779.

[Footnote 1139] Id., 732-736.

[Footnote 1140]   31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832).

[Footnote 1141] Supra, pp.597-598.

[Footnote 1142] Judiciary Act of 1789, Sec. Sec. 9, 11, 1 Stat. 76, 78, and see id., Sec. 25, 1 Stat. 85.

[Footnote 1143] E.g., Carriage Tax Act, 1 Stat. 373 (1794); License Tax on Wine & Spirits Act, 1 Stat. 376 (1794): Fugitive Slave Act, 1 Stat. 302 (1794); Naturalization Act of 1795, 1 Stat. 414; Alien Enemies Act of 1798, 1 Stat. 577. State courts in 1799 were vested with jurisdiction to try criminal offenses against the postal laws. 1 Stat. 733, 28. The Act of March 3, 1815, 3 Stat. 244, vested state courts with jurisdiction of complaints, suits, and prosecutions for taxes, duties, fines, penalties, and forfeitures. See Warren, Federal Criminal Laws and State Courts, 38 Harv. L. Rev. 545, 577-581 (1925).

[Footnote 1144] Embargo Acts, 2 Stat. 453, 473, 499, 506, 528, 550, 605, 707 (1808-1812); 3 Stat. 88 (1813); Fugitive Slave Act, 1 Stat. 302 (1793).

[Footnote 1145]   41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 539, 615 (1842), See also Houston v. Moore, 18 U.S. (5 Wheat.) 1, 69 (1820) (Justice Story dissenting); United States v. Bailey, 34 U.S. (9 Pet.) 238, 259 (1835) (Justice McLean dissenting). However, it was held that States could exercise concurrent jurisdiction if they wished. Claflin v. Houseman, 93 U.S. 130 (1876), and cases cited.

[Footnote 1146] E.g., Act of June 8, 1872, 17 Stat. 323.

[Footnote 1147] Claflin v. Houseman, 93 U.S. 130 (1876).

[Footnote 1148] 35 Stat. 65 (1908), as amended, 45 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 51-60.

[Footnote 1149] Second Employers' Liability Cases (Mondou v. New York, N.H. & H. R. Co.), 223 U.S. 1 (1912).

[Footnote 1150] Id., 59.

[Footnote 1151] Douglas v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 279 U.S. 377 (1929).

[Footnote 1152] Id., 388. For what constitutes a valid excuse, compare Missouri ex rel. Southern Ry. v. Mayfield, 340 U.S. 1 (1950), with McKnett v. St. Louis & S.F. Ry. Co., 292 U.S. 230 (1934). It appears that generally state procedure must yield to federal when it would make a difference in outcome. Compare Brown v. Western Ry. of Alabama, 338 U.S. 294 (1949), and Dice v. Akron, C. & Y. R. Co., 342 U.S. 359 (1952), with Minneapolis & St. L. R. Co. v. Bombolis, 241 U.S. 211 (1916).

[Footnote 1153] Howlett by Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 371 (1990). See also Felder v. Casey, 487 U.S. 131 (1988).

[Footnote 1154]   330 U.S. 386 (1947).

[Footnote 1155] Id., 389. See, for a discussion as well as an extension of Testa, FERC v. Mississippi, 456 U.S. 742 (1982). Cases since Testa requiring state court enforcement of federal rights have generally concerned federal remedial laws. E.g., Charles Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S. 502 (1962); Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, 396 U.S. 229 (1969). The Court has approved state court adjudication under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 3 n. 1 (1980), but curiously in Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 283 n. 7 (1980) (emphasis by Court), it noted that it has ''never considered . . . the question whether a State must entertain a claim under 1983.'' See also Arkansas Writers' Project, inc. v. Ragland, 481 U.S. 221, 234 n. 7 (1987) (continuing to reserve question). But with Felder v. Casey, 487 U.S. 131 (1988), and Howlett by Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356 (1990), it seems dubious that state courts could refuse. Enforcement is not limited to federal statutory law; federal common law must similarly be enforced. Free v. Brand, 369 U.S. 663 (1962).

[Footnote 1156] Donovan v. City of Dallas, 377 U.S. 408 (1964), and cases cited. Justices Harlan, Clark, and Stewart dissented, arguing that a State should have power to enjoin vexatious, duplicative litigation which would have the effect of thwarting a state-court judgment already entered. See also Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Kepner, 314 U.S. 44, 56 (1941) (Justice Frankfurter dissenting). In Riggs v. Johnson County, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 166 (1868), the general rule was attributed to the complete independence of state and federal courts in their spheres of action, but federal courts, of course may under certain circumstances enjoin actions in state courts.

[Footnote 1157] McKim v. Voorhies, 11 U.S. (7 Cr.) 279 (1812); Riggs v. Johnson County, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 166 (1868).

[Footnote 1158] Princess Lida v. Thompson, 305 U.S. 456 (1939). Nor do state courts have any power to release by habeas corpus persons in custody pursuant to federal authority. Ableman v. Booth, 62 U.S. (21 How.) 506 (1859); Tarble's Case, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 397 (1872).

[Footnote 1159] Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971). Compare Fair Assessment in Real Estate Assn. v. McNary, 454 U.S. 100 (1981), with id., 119-125 (Justice Brennan concurring, joined by three other Justices).

[Footnote 1160] Mast, Foos & Co. v. Stover Manufacturing Co., 177 U.S. 458, 488 (1900). Recent decisions emphasize comity as the primary reason for restraint in federal court actions tending to interfere with state courts. E.g., O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 499 -504 (1974); Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U.S. 592, 599 -603 (1975); Trainor v. Hernandez, 431 U.S. 434, 441 (1977); Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 430 (1979). The Court has also cited comity as a reason to restrict access to federal habeas corpus. Francis v. Henderson, 425 U.S. 536, 541 and n. 31 (1976); Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 83 , 88, 90 (1977); Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 128 -129 (1982). See also Rosewell v. LaSalle National Bank, 450 U.S. 503 (1981); Fair Assessment in Real Estate Assn. v. McNary, 454 U.S. 100 (1981) (comity limits federal court interference with state tax systems). And see Missouri v. Jenkins, 495 U.S. 33 (1990).

[Footnote 1161] C. Wright, Handbook of the Law of Federal Courts (St. Paul: 4th ed. 1983), 13. The basic doctrine was formulated by Justice Frankfurter for the Court in Railroad Comm. v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496 (1941). Other strands of the doctrine are that a federal court should refrain from exercising jurisdiction in order to avoid needless conflict with the administration by a State of its own affairs, Burford v. Sun Oil Co., 319 U.S. 315 (1943); Alabama Pubic Service Comm. v. Southern Ry., 341 U.S. 341 (1951); Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Huffman, 319 U.S. 293 (1943); Martin v. Creasy, 360 U.S. 219 (1959); Moses H. Cone Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1 (1983); New Orleans Public Service, Inc. v. Council of the City of New Orleans, 491 U.S. 350 (1989) (carefully reviewing the scope of the doctrine), especially where state law is unsettled. Meredith v. City of Winter Haven, 320 U.S. 228 (1943); County of Allegheny v. Frank Mashuda Co., 360 U.S. 185 (1959); Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. City of Thiobodaux, 360 U.S. 25 (1959). See also Clay v. Sun Insurance Office Ltd., 363 U.S. 207 (1960). Also, while pendency of an action in state court will not ordinarily cause a federal court to abstain, there are ''exceptional'' circumstances in which it should. Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976); Will v. Calvert Fire Insurance Co., 437 U.S. 655 (1978); Arizona v. San Carlos Apache Tribe, 463 U.S. 545 (1983). But in Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 116 S. Ct. 1712 (1996), an exercise in Burford abstention, the Court held that federal courts have power to dismiss or remand cases based on abstention principles only where relief being sought is equitable or otherwise discretionary but may not do so in common-law actions for damages.

[Footnote 1162] City of Chicago v. Atchison, T. & S.F.R. Co., 357 U.S. 77 (1958); Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 249 -251 (1967). See Babbitt v. United Farm Workers Nat. Union, 442 U.S. 289, 306 (1979) (quoting Harman v. Forssenius, 380 U.S. 528, 534 -535 (1965)).

[Footnote 1163] Harman v. Forssenius, 380 U.S. 528, 534 -535 (1965); Babbitt v. United Farm Workers, 442 U.S. 289, 305 -312 (1979). Abstention is not proper simply to afford a state court the opportunity to hold that a state law violates the federal Constitution. Wisconsin v. Constanineau, 400 U.S. 433 (1971); Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 379 n. 5 (1978); Douglas v. Seacoast Products, 431 U.S. 265, 271 n. 4 (1977); City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987) (''A federal court may not properly ask a state court if it would care in effect to rewrite a statute''). But if the statute is clear and there is a reasonable possibility that the state court would find it in violation of a distinct or specialized state constitutional provision, abstention may be proper, Harris County Comrs. Court v. Moore, 420 U.S. 77 (1975); Reetz v. Bozanich, 397 U.S. 82 (1970), although not if the state and federal constitutional provisions are alike. Examining Bd. v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572, 598 (1976).

[Footnote 1164] American Trial Lawyers Assn. v. New Jersey Supreme Court, 409 U.S. 467, 469 (1973); Harrison v. NAACP, 360 U.S. 167 (1959). Dismissal may be necessary if the state court will not accept jurisdiction while the case is pending in federal court. Harris County Comrs. v. Moore, 420 U.S. 77, 88 n. 14 (1975).

[Footnote 1165] E.g., Spector Motor Service v. McLaughlin, 323 U.S. 101 (1944); Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. City of Thiobodaux, 360 U.S. 25 (1959); Harrison v. NAACP, 360 U.S. 167 (1959).

[Footnote 1166] McNeese v. Board of Education, 373 U.S. 668 (1963); Griffin v. School Board, 377 U.S. 218 (1964); Hostetter v. Idlewild Bon Voyage Liquor Corp., 377 U.S. 324 (1964); Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360 (1964); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678 (1964); Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (1965); Harman v. Forssenius, 380 U.S. 528 (1965); Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241 (1967); Wisconsin v. Constanineau, 400 U.S. 433 (1971).

[Footnote 1167] England v. Louisiana State Bd. of Medical Examiners, 375 U.S. 411, 426 (1964) (Justice Douglas concurring). See C. Wright, Handbook of the Law of Federal Courts (St. Paul: 4th ed. 1983), 305.

[Footnote 1168] Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360, 378 -379 (1964). Both consequences may be alleviated substantially by state adoption of procedures by which federal courts may certify to the State's highest court questions of unsettled state law which would be dispositive of the federal court action. The Supreme Court has actively encouraged resort to certification where it exists. Clay v. Sun Insurance Office Ltd., 363 U.S. 207 (1960); Lehman Brothers v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386 (1974); Bellotti v. Baird, 428 U.S. 132, 151 (1976).

[Footnote 1169] Compare Harrison v. NAACP, 360 U.S. 167 (1959), with McNeese v. Board of Education, 373 U.S. 668 (1963).

[Footnote 1170] Compare Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360 (1964), and Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (1965), with Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66 (1971). See Babbitt v. United Farm Workers, 442 U.S. 289, 305 -312 (1979).

[Footnote 1171]   401 U.S. 37 (1971). There is room to argue whether the Younger line of cases represents the abstention doctrine at all, but the Court continues to refer to it in those terms. E.g., Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 112 S.Ct. 2206, 2215 (1992).

[Footnote 1172] The rule was formulated in Prentis v. Atlantic Coast Line Co., 211 U.S. 210 (1908), and Bacon v. Rutland R. Co., 232 U.S. 134 (1914).

[Footnote 1173] City Bank Farmers' Trust Co. v. Schnader, 291 U.S. 24 (1934); Lane v. Wilson, 307 U.S. 268 (1939). But see Alabama Public Service Comm. v. Southern Ry. Co., 341 U.S. 341 (1951). Exhaustion of state court remedies is required in habeas corpus cases and usually in suits to restrain state court proceedings.

[Footnote 1174] Patsy v. Board of Regents, 457 U.S. 496 (1982). Where there are pending administrative proceedings that fall within the Younger rule, a litigant must exhaust. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), as explicated in Ohio Civil Rights Comm. v. Dayton Christian School, Inc., 477 U.S. 619, 627 n. 2 (1986). Under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, barring employment discrimination on racial and other specified grounds, the EEOC may not consider a claim until a state agency having jurisdiction over employment discrimination complaints has had at least 60 days to resolve the matter. 42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 2000e-5(c). See Love v. Pullman Co., 404 U.S. 522 (1972). And under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, there is a requirement of exhaustion, where States have federally-approved procedures. See Patsy, supra, 507-513.

[Footnote 1175] Toucey v. New York Life Ins. Co., 314 U.S. 118, 130 -132 (1941).

[Footnote 1176] ''[N]or shall a writ of injunction be granted to stay proceedings in any court of a state; . . .'' Sec. 5, 1 Stat. 334 (1793), now, as amended, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2283.

[Footnote 1177] Durfee & Sloss, Federal Injunctions Against Proceedings in State Courts: The Life History of a Statute, 30 Mich. L. Rev. 1145 (1932).

[Footnote 1178]   314 U.S. 118 (1941).

[Footnote 1179] ''A Court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments.'' 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2283. The Reviser's Note is appended to the statute, stating intent.

[Footnote 1180] Amalgamated Clothing Workers v. Richman Bros., 348 U.S. 511 (1955); Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 398 U.S. 281 (1970). See M. Redish, Federal Jurisdiction: Tensions in the Allocation of Judicial Power (Charlottesville: 1980), ch. 10.

[Footnote 1181] The greatest difficulty is with the ''expressly authorized by Act of Congress'' exception. No other Act of Congress expressly refers to Sec. 2283 and the Court has indicated that no such reference is necessary to create a statutory exception. Amalgamated Clothing Workers v. Richman Bros., 348 U.S. 511, 516 (1955). Compare Capital Serv, Inc. v. NLRB, 347 U.S. 501 (1954). Rather, ''in order to qualify as an 'expressly authorized' exception to the anti-injunction statute, an Act of Congress must have created a specific and uniquely federal right or remedy, enforceable in a federal court of equity, that could be frustrated if the federal court were not empowered to enjoin a state court proceeding.'' Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 237 (1972). Applying this test, the Court in Mitchum held that a 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 suit is an exception to Sec. 2283 and that persons suing under this authority may, if they satisfy the requirements of comity, obtain an injunction against state court proceedings. The exception is, of course, highly constrained by the comity principle. On the difficulty of applying the test, see Vendo Co. v. Lektco-Vend Corp., 433 U.S. 623 (1977) (fragmented Court on whether Clayton Act authorization of private suits for injunctive relief is an ''expressly authorized'' exception to Sec. 2283).

[Footnote 1184] Article IV, Sec. 1, of the Constitution; 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1738.

[Footnote 1185] Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 95 -96 (1980).

[Footnote 1186] Id., 96-105. There were three dissenters. Id., 105 (Justices Blackmun, Brennan, and Marshall). In England v. Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, 375 U.S. 411 (1964), the Court held that when parties are compelled to go to state court under Pullman abstention, either party may reserve the federal issue and thus be enabled to return to federal court without being barred by res judicata.

[Footnote 1187] Kramer v. Chemical Construction Corp., 456 U.S. 461, 468 (1982).

[Footnote 1188] Id., 468-476. There were four dissents. Id., 486 (Justices Blackmun, Brennan, and Marshall), 508 (Stevens).

[Footnote 1189]   209 U.S. 123 (1908).

[Footnote 1190] 36 Stat. 557 (1910). The statute was amended in 1925 to apply to requests for permanent injunctions, 43 Stat. 936, and again in 1937 to apply to constitutional attacks on federal statutes. 50 Stat. 752.

[Footnote 1191] Swift & Co. v. Wickham, 382 U.S. 111, 119 (1965); Ex parte Collins, 277 U.S. 565, 567 (1928).

[Footnote 1192] These now are primarily limited to suits under the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 1973b(a), 1973c, 1973h(c), and to certain suits by the Attorney General under public accommodations and equal employment provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 2000a-5(b), 2000e-6(b).

[Footnote 1193] Pub. L. 94-381, 90 Stat. 1119, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2284. In actions still required to be heard by three-judge courts, direct appeals are still available to the Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1253.


 

Up
Annotations p. 21