Reetz v. Bozanich - 397 U.S. 82 (1970)
U.S. Supreme Court
Reetz v. Bozanich, 397 U.S. 82 (1970)
Reetz v. Bozanich
Argued January 13, 1970
Decided February 25, 1970
397 U.S. 82
Appellees brought this action challenging, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and under certain provisions of the Alaska Constitution relating to fish resources, the constitutionality of an Alaska statute and regulations limiting commercial salmon fishing licensees to defined groups of persons. Appellants' motion to dismiss or alternatively to stay the proceedings pending state court determination with respect to the Alaska constitutional provisions (which have never been interpreted by an Alaska court) was denied, and appellees' motion for summary judgment was granted, the three-judge District Court holding the Act and regulations invalid under both the Federal and State Constitutions.
Held: The District Court should have abstained from deciding the case on the merits pending resolution of the state constitutional questions by the state courts, a procedure that could conceivably avoid any decision under the Fourteenth Amendment and any possible irritant in the federal-state relationship. City of Meridian v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 358 U. S. 639. Pp. 397 U. S. 5-8.
297 F.Supp. 300, vacated and remanded.