The Supreme Court held that a federal court may enjoin the enforcement of an excessively vague state statute when there is evidence of bad faith and harassment in the enforcement of the statute.
According to the doctrine of abstention, federal courts normally do not intervene in state court proceedings until after they are finalized. James Dombrowski, leader of a civil rights organization in Louisiana, alleged that state officials were using broad antisubversion statutes as an excuse to harass and intimidate members of his organization. Citing the abstention doctrine, a federal court refused Dombrowski’s request for an injunction. By a 5-2 vote, however, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.’s
At first the Dombrowski decision led to a large number of lawsuits, but a narrow interpretation of the decision in Younger v. Harris
Younger v. Harris