guesses regarding local law. (Citations) Avoidance of such guesswork, by holding the litigation in the federal courts until definite determinations on local law are made by the state courts, merely heeds this time-honored canon of constitutional adjudication.'
To multiply authorities is unnecessary. Indeed, the Pullman doctrine has been applied by the United States Supreme Court as recently as January 1957, in the case of Leiter Minerals v. United States, 352 U.S. 220, 77 S. Ct. 287, 1 L. Ed. 2d 267. But of particular interest might be the case of City of Chicago v. Fieldcrest Dairies, 1942, 316 U.S. 168, 62 S. Ct. 986, 86 L. Ed. 1355, which, as here, involved the validity of a city ordinance, and where, as here, a State court already had pending before it, not a case between the same parties, but a case involving substantially the same question. There, applying the Pullman doctrine, our highest court reversed the action of the lower Federal Courts in attempting to decide the State law question as to the validity of the ordinance in the light of a State statute, and directed the Federal District Court to 'retain the bill pending a determination of proceedings in the state court * * *', 316 U.S. at page 173, 62 S. Ct. at page 988. The Court there added, 316 U.S. at page 172, 62 S. Ct. at page 988:
'The delicacy of that issue and an appropriate regard 'for the rightful independence of State governments' * * * reemphasize that it is a wise and permissible policy for the federal chancellor to stay his hand in absence of an authoritative and controlling determination by the state tribunals * * *. In this case that discretion calls for a remission of the parties to the state courts, which alone can give a definitive answer to the major questions posed * * *. Considerations of delay, inconvenience, and cost to the parties, which have been urged upon us do not call for a different result. For we are here concerned with the much larger issue as to the appropriate relationship between federal and state authorities functioning as a harmonious whole.'
Because of the supreme importance of harmony between our Federal and State sovereignties, because of the fact that this harmony is to be obtained solely through the exercise of sound judicial discretion, it is the duty of the courts themselves, ex mero motu, to consider the situation as it exists in fact, whether or not either party stresses a particular point. For a Federal Court not to refuse to exercise its jurisdiction and power, but simply to stay its hand temporarily pending more appropriate determination of a certain issue elsewhere, is surely a small price for a party to pay, in order to avoid unhappy, not to say unnecessary, conflict between the Federal and State sovereignties.
True, no such stay on the part of the Federal Courts is appropriate where the adequacy of the relief in the State courts is subject to real question, as in Hillsborough Tp. Somerset County v. Cromwell, 1946, 326 U.S. 620, 66 S. Ct. 445, 90 L. Ed. 358 and in the recent desegregation cases, as well probably as in Lane v. Wilson, 1939, 307 U.S. 268, 59 S. Ct. 872, 83 L. Ed. 1281, where the right of a colored man to vote in Oklahoma was involved. Similar is the situation where, instead of the State question being subject to real doubt, this question has been definitively decided. For under such circumstances, the possibility of conflict between the sovereignties does not exist, and the Federal Court can promptly apply the settled State law and thereupon proceed, if necessary, to adjudicate the remaining Federal constitutional issue. Hillsborough, supra. Most of the decisions relied on by plaintiff, in asking this Court to proceed without staying its hand, fall into one or another of the above categories and are therefore inapplicable here.
Great stress, however, is laid by plaintiff on the fact that in the case at bar a violation of the Civil Rights Acts are involved, the claim being that while the Pullman doctrine may apply generally as above, it does not apply in cases arising under the Civil Rights Act, as instanced by Hague v. C.I.O., 1939, 307 U.S. 496, 59 S. Ct. 954, 83 L. Ed. 1423. This contention is incorrect. Ever since the decision in Pullman, its doctrine has been applied, not only generally, but in cases expressly based upon the Civil Rights statute. Douglas v. City of Jeannette, 1943, 319 U.S. 157, 63 S. Ct. 877, 87 L. Ed. 1324, Cooper v. Hutchinson, 3 Cir., 1950, 184 F.2d 119. The fact is, that Hague was decided before Pullman, i.e., before the Pullman doctrine had been developed as a criterion for the exercise of sound judicial discretion by the Federal Courts, in maintaining the necessary harmony between the Federal and State sovereignties. Indeed, this also applies to Lane v. Wilson, supra.
Finally it should be noted that if we pierce the shadow and seize the substance, as the U.S. Supreme Court doubtless did, Pullman itself was a case involving the right of employment of colored Pullman porters, whose civil rights of employment, of voting and so on, were the very cause for the enactment of the Civil Rights statutes.
In short, not only the discretion vested in the Federal Courts in declaratory judgment proceedings, the general equitable discretion vested in the Federal Chancellor in granting injunctive relief, but finally the paramount need for maintaining harmonious relations between the Federal and State sovereignties, all conjoin here to require, not that this Court refuse to exercise its jurisdiction and power in the present instance, but that it stay its hand in doing so, pending, not the possible, but the imminent and final, decision of the important State question, which may well be decisive of the entire controversy now before this Court.
That plaintiff may have resort to the State Courts at once, himself, is obvious, as is also the fact that his claimed loss of a few hundred dollars in lessened rents does not constitute irreparable harm requiring immediate injunctive relief. Perhaps it should be added that since what is involved here is a municipal ordinance, not a statewide statute, defendant's motion to convene a three-Judge Court will be denied. City of Cleveland v. United States, 1945, 323 U.S. 329, 65 S. Ct. 280, 89 L. Ed. 274.
An order may be entered, on notice, accordingly.