Stainback v. Mo Hock Ke Lok Po
336 U.S. 368 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stainback v. Mo Hock Ke Lok Po, 336 U.S. 368 (1949)

Stainback v. Mo Hock Ke Lok Po

No. 52

Argued January 11-12, 1949

Decided March 14, 1949*

336 U.S. 368

Syllabus

1. Section 266 of the Judicial Code (now 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281, 1253, etc.), which required that a suit to enjoin state officers from enforcing a state statute on the ground of unconstitutionality be heard and determined by a district court of three judges, and which authorized a direct appeal to this Court from a final decree in such suit, held not applicable to the Territory of Hawaii. Pp. 336 U. S. 374-380.

2. A final judgment of the United States District Court for Hawaii in a suit heard and determined by three judges, although not appealable directly to this Court because of the inapplicability of Judicial Code § 266 (now 28 U.S.C. § 1253), was nevertheless reviewable in the Court of Appeals, and could be considered here on certiorari to that court. Pp. 336 U. S. 380-381.

3. A final judgment of the United States District Court for Hawaii, erroneously constituted of three judges under Judicial Code § 266 (now 28 U.S.C. § 2281), enjoined territorial officers from enforcing an Act of the Territory on the ground of unconstitutionality. A direct appeal was erroneously taken to this Court; an appeal was also taken to the Court of Appeals, and this Court was petitioned to review the case in the Court of Appeals by certiorari before judgment.

Held: as the record, arguments and briefs here and the opinions of the District Court fully present the case decided by the District Court, and to avoid further futile proceedings, this Court grants certiorari to review the case in the Court of Appeals before judgment. Pp. 336 U. S. 370-371.

Page 336 U. S. 369

4. Claiming that it was invalid under the Federal Constitution, certain Chinese School Associations, a Chinese school, and a teacher of Chinese in Chinese language schools sued in the United States District Court for Hawaii to enjoin officers of the Territory from enforcing an Act of the Territory which forbids the teaching of foreign languages to children in certain circumstances. The sole sanction for its enforcement was by injunction, in a suit for which the defense of unconstitutionality would be available. The Act had not been construed by the Hawaiian courts.

Held: assuming the existence of federal and equitable jurisdiction, the District Court, as a matter of its discretion, should have refused to grant the injunction. Pp. 336 U. S. 381-384.

5. Where equitable interference with state and territorial acts is sought in federal courts, judicial consideration of acts of importance primarily to the people of the state or territory should, as a matter of discretion, be left by the federal courts to the courts of the legislating authority, unless exceptional circumstances command a different course. P. 336 U. S. 383-384.

74 F.Supp. 852, reversed.

Respondents sued in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii to enjoin officers of the Territory from enforcing an Act of the Territory challenged as invalid under the Federal Constitution. The suit was heard and determined by a court of three judges, which granted the injunction. 74 F.Supp. 852. The defendants took a direct appeal to this Court (No. 52) and an appeal to the Court of Appeals. They also petitioned this Court for review of the case in the Court of Appeals by certiorari before judgment (No. 474). In No. 52, the appeal is dismissed; in No. 474, certiorari is granted, the judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded to the District Court with directions to dismiss the complaint. P. 336 U. S. 384.

Page 336 U. S. 370

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