North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

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Chapel Hill, NC 27514

To Abstain, or Not To Abstain, That Is the Question: The Seventh and Ninth Circuits’ Divergent Approaches to Younger Abstention

January 13, 2020

98 N.C. L. REV. 191 (2019)


Federal abstention is a judicially created doctrine by which a federal court declines to exercise its jurisdiction over a case and controversy properly before it. Abstention is aimed at preserving the balance of sovereignty allocated to the states and federal government as envisioned by the Framers. Of the various iterations of abstention, Younger abstention perhaps does the most to protect this balance. Despite its importance in maintaining principles of federalism, lower courts have struggled to come up with a consistent approach to Younger. This Recent Development highlights two U.S. Circuit Courts—the Seventh and Ninth—and their divergent approaches to Younger abstention and proposes that the Seventh Circuit’s approach is correct as it effectively advances the principles of federalism and comity that Younger abstention was designed to protect in the first place.



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