O'Shea v. Littleton 414 U.S. 488 (1974)

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O'SHEA v. LITTLETON 414 U.S. 488 (1974)

Protesters against racial discrimination in Cairo, Illinois, obtained a federal court injunction against a state judge and magistrate, forbidding continuation of various discriminatory bail, sentencing, and jury-fee practices in criminal cases. The Supreme Court reversed, 6–3, on ripeness grounds. Although some plaintiffs had previously suffered such discrimination, none were now threatened with prosecution. Thus there was no live case or controversy.

Once a prosecution was commenced, younger v. harris (1971) would forbid a federal injunction. (See abstention doctrine.) Thus potential plaintiffs in such cases must file their complaints within a narrow time period.

Kenneth L. Karst

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O'Shea v. Littleton 414 U.S. 488 (1974)

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