YOUNGER v. HARRIS

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
2
Petitioner 
Harris
Respondent 
Younger
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the appellant on the second reargument)
(Argued the cause for the appellant, Reargued the cause for appellant)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

California's Criminal Syndicalism Act prohibited advocating, teaching, or aiding the commission of a crime or unlawful acts of violence or terrorism. John Harris, a socialist, was indicted under the statute. Harris claimed the law had a "chilling effect" on his freedom of speech. After a California state court upheld Harris' conviction, a federal district court struck down the Act because of vagueness and overbreadth.

Question 

Did the federal court, in stopping a prosecution in a state court, violate constitutional principles of federalism?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Younger, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Abstention Doctrine

In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court held that "settled doctrines" of federalism narrowly confined the availability of injunctive relief against state criminal prosecutions. Specifically, the Court found that a federal court could not properly enjoin enforcement of a statute "solely on the basis of showing that the statute 'on its face' abridges First Amendment rights." The Court referred to "the basic doctrine of equity jurisprudence," under which federal courts were required to show proper respect for state functions and notions of comity.

Cite this Page
YOUNGER v. HARRIS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_2>.
YOUNGER v. HARRIS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_2 (last visited June 19, 2014).
"YOUNGER v. HARRIS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 19, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_2.