Federal court abstention may not rank among the highest priorities with those who care about federalism, including of course, CSG, who is in the midst of a Focus on Federalism Initiative. However, it was Justice Black (and not me) who described the underpinning of Younger abstention as “Our Federalism” in his 1971 majority opinion in Younger v. Harris.
“Our Federalism” “is a system in which there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State and National Governments, and in which the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States.”
However, “Our Federalism” wasn’t enough in the Court’s most recent Younger abstention ruling. Sprint Communications Company v. Jacobs was short, unanimous, and issued early in the Court’s Term. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case, which CSG joined.