Younger Abstention after Trump v. Vance
Last summer, in Trump v. Vance, the Supreme Court held that a sitting President potentially must answer a state criminal subpoena. But along the way to the Supreme Court, the case encountered the federal courts doctrine known as Younger abstention, which requires that “When there is a parallel, pending state criminal proceeding, federal courts must refrain from enjoining the state prosecution.”
In Vance, there was a pending criminal proceeding in the New York state courts. President Trump, acting in his personal capacity, went to federal court to seek an injunction. So one might think this was a natural case for Younger abstention. And indeed, that is what the district court held.
But on appeal, the Second Circuit decided that abstention was inappropriate (although it still ruled against President Trump on the merits). It concluded that Younger abstention ought not apply to litigation brought by the United States, and a personal suit by the President was close enough to create similar considerations.
Making such an exception is kind of a big deal. Until now, the usual black letter rule is that Younger abstention can be set aside only in narrow circumstances—bad faith, harassment, or patent unconstitutionality—none of whi
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