Costello v. Wainwright
430 U.S. 325 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Costello v. Wainwright, 430 U.S. 325 (1977)

Costello v. Wainwright

No. 76-5920

Decided March 21, 1977

430 U.S. 325

Syllabus

A three-judge District Court was not required under 28 U.S.C. § 2281 to hear and determine an action challenging the constitutionality of overcrowding in Florida's prisons, and a single District Judge properly exercised jurisdiction. That equitable relief might necessitate temporary suspension of a statute requiring prison officials to accept custody of prisoners does not men that a three-judge court was required to grant such relief, since the applicability of § 2281 depends on whether a state statute is alleged to be unconstitutional, not on whether the remedy for unconstitutional state administrative behavior ultimately impinges on duties imposed under concededly constitutional state statutes. Otherwise, the threshold question of jurisdiction would have to be postponed until the merits had been resolved and the outlines of equitable relief discerned.

Certiorari granted; 539 F.2d 547, reversed and remanded.

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