On Being Civil to Younger

49 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2009 Last revised: 30 Jun 2009

See all articles by Ruggero J. Aldisert

Ruggero J. Aldisert

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Date Written: 1978


An important issue that has evaded resolution by the United States Supreme Court is to what extent the principles of the Younger v. Harris sextet apply to civil cases. It is the thesis of this article (published in 1979) that, after eight years, sufficient analysis has taken place to construct a rule comprehensive enough to accommodate both civil and criminal cases. Younger holds that a federal court must restrain its power to enjoin state criminal proceedings, except under extraordinary circumstances where (1) the danger of irreparable injury is both so great and immediate that plaintiff’s federally protected rights are threatened; and (2) that threat cannot be eliminated by defending against a single state prosecution. If this is the test in criminal cases, it seems to me that it should form the basis of the test in civil cases as well. No considerations have been advanced in Supreme Court decisions or elsewhere which persuade me otherwise. Thus I contend that where federal protections asserted by a federal plaintiff can be interposed by him as an effective defense in a pending state civil proceeding, a federal court should withhold its power to enjoin the state proceeding.

PDF scan posted with permission of the Connecticut Law Review.

Keywords: Younger v. Harris, federal injunction of state proceedings, judicial restraint, federal courts, courts, judges, judging, judicial process, state courts, judiciary, Aldisert

Suggested Citation

Aldisert, Ruggero J., On Being Civil to Younger (1978). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 181, 1979, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1416224

Ruggero J. Aldisert (Contact Author)

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ( email )

601 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA
United States

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