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Younger v. Harris

Supreme Court of the United States

April 1, 1969, Argued ; February 23, 1971, Decided

No. 2

Opinion

 [*38]  [***672]  [**747]    MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellee, John Harris, Jr., was indicted in a California state court, charged with violation of the California Penal Code §§ 11400 and 11401, known as the California Criminal Syndicalism Act, set out below. 1 He then filed  [*39]  a  [**748]  complaint in the Federal District Court,  [****4]  asking  [***673]  that court to enjoin the appellant, Younger, the District Attorney of Los Angeles County, from prosecuting him, and alleging that the prosecution and even the presence of the Act inhibited him in the exercise of his rights of free speech and press, rights guaranteed him by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Appellees Jim Dan and Diane Hirsch intervened as plaintiffs in the suit, claiming that the prosecution of Harris would inhibit them as members of the Progressive Labor Party from peacefully advocating the program of their party, which was to replace capitalism with socialism and to abolish the profit system of production in this country.  Appellee Farrell Broslawsky, an instructor in history at Los Angeles Valley College, also intervened claiming that the prosecution of Harris made him uncertain as to whether he could  [*40]  teach about the doctrines of Karl Marx or read from the Communist Manifesto as part of his classwork. All claimed that unless the United States court restrained the state prosecution of Harris each would suffer immediate and irreparable injury. A three-judge Federal District Court, convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 2284, [****5]  held that it had jurisdiction and power to restrain the District Attorney from prosecuting, held that the State's Criminal Syndicalism Act was void for vagueness and overbreadth in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and accordingly restrained the District Attorney from "further prosecution of the currently pending action against plaintiff Harris for alleged violation of the Act." 281 F.Supp. 507, 517 (1968).

 [****6]   

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401 U.S. 37 *; 91 S. Ct. 746 **; 27 L. Ed. 2d 669 ***; 1971 U.S. LEXIS 136 ****

YOUNGER, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY v. HARRIS ET AL.

Subsequent History:  [****1]  Reargued April 29 and November 16, 1970.

Prior History: APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA.

Disposition:  281 F.Supp. 507, reversed.

CORE TERMS

injunction, rights, federal court, prosecutions, state court, criminal prosecution, circumstances, proceedings, enjoin, irreparable injury, harassment, bad faith, cases, indicted, threats, chilling effect, inhibited, arrests, national government, make clear, state law, allegations, advocating, restrain, sections, reasons, courts, express authorization, criminal syndicalism, criminal proceeding

Criminal Law & Procedure, Miscellaneous Offenses, Espionage & Treason, General Overview, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Willfulness, Civil Procedure, Federal & State Interrelationships, Anti-Injunction Act, Exceptions, Preliminary Considerations, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Standing, Third Party Standing, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Political Speech, Bill of Rights, Scope, Judgments, Enforcement & Execution, Constitutional Questions, Supremacy Clause