Can a Federal Court Enjoin State Court Proceeding?

Robert N. Loughran - Intern
Jan 20 2020

The All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, allows federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” A potential issue involves the intersection of the All Writs Act and the Anti-Injunction Act which provides “ [a] court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments." 28 U.S.C. § 2283. This generally prohibits federal courts from interfering with on-going state court proceedings.  By way of example, the Anti-Injunction Act prohibited a federal court from using its authority and equitable power to stay or dismiss mortgage foreclosure proceedings in state court, to remove allegedly unreasonable charges, or to return the mortgage loan to good standing. See Mitchell v. U.S. Bank National Association for Wells Fargo Asset Securities Corporation Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Series 2006-AR4, 293 F.Supp.3d 209 (D.D.C.2018). Therefore, while the All Writs Act normally would appear to allow for injunctions of state court proceedings, it must be considered in light of the Anti-Injunction Act which would likely prevent it.