Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd.

LOCATION:Harris County Commissioners Court

DOCKET NO.: 73-296
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 420 US 592 (1975)
ARGUED: Dec 10, 1974
DECIDED: Mar 18, 1975

Gilbert H. Deitch – for appellee
James J. Clancy
James J. Clancey – for appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 10, 1974 in Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 18, 1975 in Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd.

William H. Rehnquist:

In Huffman against Pursue, 73-296, we have a case that comes to us from a three-judge district court in Ohio.

Appellee is a movie exhibitor whose theater was ordered closed by a state court under the Ohio civil nuisance statute.

Rather than appeal the state court judgment in the Ohio appellate system, the appellee immediately filed this civil rights action or Section 1983 in the Federal District Court.

And the three-judge district court concluded that an Ohio nuisance statute was a prior restraint on First Amendment activities and enjoined execution of the state court judgment.

On this appeal we dont reach the merits of the First Amendment issues because we have concluded that the District Court should not have asserted jurisdiction over this case absent a showing of the extraordinary circumstances recognized in Younger against Harris.

For reasons set out at length in our opinion, we conclude that the notions of committee comity and federalism which underlie Younger are applicable when a federal court is asked to interfere with a state civil proceeding to which the state is a party and which is in aid of its criminal law.

We also conclude that these same considerations require that a state litigant exhaust his state appellate remedies before being relieved of Youngers restrictions on interference with state proceedings which have already been initiated.

We therefore vacate the judgment of the District Court and remand for further proceedings.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Marshall joined.