JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
The issue here is whether respondent Lyons satisfied the prerequisites for seeking injunctive relief in the Federal District Court.
This case began on February 7, 1977, when respondent, Adolph Lyons, filed a complaint for damages, injunction, and declaratory relief in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The defendants were the City of Los Angeles and four of its police officers. The complaint alleged that on October 6, 1976, at 2 a. m., Lyons was stopped by the defendant officers for a traffic or vehicle code violation and that although Lyons offered no resistance or threat whatsoever, the officers, without provocation or justification, seized Lyons and applied a "chokehold"
The District Court, by order, granted the City's motion for partial judgment on the pleadings and entered judgment for
On remand, Lyons applied for a preliminary injunction. Lyons pressed only the Count V claim at this point. See n. 6, infra. The motion was heard on affidavits, depositions, and government records. The District Court found that Lyons had been stopped for a traffic infringement and that without provocation or legal justification the officers involved had applied a "Department-authorized chokehold which resulted in injuries to the plaintiff." The court further found that the department authorizes the use of the holds in situations where no one is threatened by death or grievous bodily harm, that officers are insufficiently trained, that the use of the holds involves a high risk of injury or death as then employed, and that their continued use in situations where neither death nor serious bodily injury is threatened "is unconscionable in a civilized society." The court concluded that such use violated Lyons' substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. A preliminary injunction
Since our grant of certiorari, circumstances pertinent to the case have changed. Originally, Lyons' complaint alleged that at least two deaths had occurred as a result of the application of chokeholds by the police. His first amended complaint alleged that 10 chokehold-related deaths had occurred. By May 1982, there had been five more such deaths. On May 6, 1982, the Chief of Police in Los Angeles prohibited the use of the bar-arm chokehold in any circumstances. A few days later, on May 12, 1982, the Board of Police Commissioners imposed a 6-month moratorium on the use of the carotid-artery chokehold except under circumstances where deadly force is authorized.
In his brief and at oral argument, Lyons has reasserted his position that in light of changed conditions, an injunctive decree is now unnecessary because he is no longer subject to a threat of injury. He urges that the preliminary injunction should be vacated. The City, on the other hand, while acknowledging that subsequent events have significantly changed the posture of this case, again asserts that the case is not moot because the moratorium is not permanent and may be lifted at any time.
We agree with the City that the case is not moot, since the moratorium by its terms is not permanent. Intervening events have not "irrevocably eradicated the effects of the alleged violation." County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631 (1979). We nevertheless hold, for another reason, that the federal courts are without jurisdiction to entertain Lyons' claim for injunctive relief.
It goes without saying that those who seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts must satisfy the threshold requirement imposed by Art. III of the Constitution by alleging an actual case or controversy. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94-101 (1968); Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421-425 (1969) (opinion of MARSHALL, J.). Plaintiffs must demonstrate a "personal stake in the outcome" in order to "assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues" necessary for the proper resolution of constitutional questions. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204 (1962). Abstract injury is not enough. The plaintiff must
In O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974), we dealt with a case brought by a class of plaintiffs claiming that they had been subjected to discriminatory enforcement of the criminal law. Among other things, a county magistrate and judge were accused of discriminatory conduct in various respects, such as sentencing members of plaintiff's class more harshly than other defendants. The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the suit by the District Court, ruling that if the allegations were proved, an appropriate injunction could be entered.
We reversed for failure of the complaint to allege a case or controversy. Id., at 493. Although it was claimed in that case that particular members of the plaintiff class had actually suffered from the alleged unconstitutional practices, we observed that "[p]ast exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief . . . if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects." Id., at 495-496. Past wrongs were evidence bearing on "whether there is a real and immediate threat of repeated injury." Id., at 496. But the prospect of future injury rested "on the likelihood that [plaintiffs] will again be arrested for and charged with violations of the criminal law and will again be subjected to bond proceedings, trial, or sentencing before petitioners." Ibid. The most that could be said for plaintiffs' standing was "that if [plaintiffs] proceed to violate an unchallenged law and if they are charged, held to answer, and tried in any proceedings before petitioners, they will be subjected to the discriminatory practices
We further observed that case-or-controversy considerations "obviously shade into those determining whether the complaint states a sound basis for equitable relief," id., at 499, and went on to hold that even if the complaint presented an existing case or controversy, an adequate basis for equitable relief against petitioners had not been demonstrated:
Another relevant decision for present purposes is Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976), a case in which plaintiffs alleged widespread illegal and unconstitutional police conduct aimed at minority citizens and against city residents in general. The Court reiterated the holding in O'Shea that past wrongs do not in themselves amount to that real and immediate threat of injury necessary to make out a case or controversy. The claim of injury rested upon "what one of a small, unnamed minority of policemen might do to them in the future
Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969), a case arising in an analogous situation, is directly apposite. Zwickler sought a declaratory judgment that a New York statute prohibiting anonymous handbills directly pertaining to election campaigns was unconstitutional. Although Zwickler had once been convicted under the statute,
We note also our per curiam opinion in Ashcroft v. Mattis, 431 U.S. 171 (1977). There, the father of a boy who had been killed by the police sought damages and a declaration that the Missouri statute which authorized police officers to use deadly force in apprehending a person who committed a felony was unconstitutional. Plaintiff alleged that he had another
No extension of O'Shea and Rizzo is necessary to hold that respondent Lyons has failed to demonstrate a case or controversy with the City that would justify the equitable relief sought.
In order to establish an actual controversy in this case, Lyons would have had not only to allege that he would have
First, the Court of Appeals thought that Lyons was more immediately threatened than the plaintiffs in those cases since, according to the Court of Appeals, Lyons need only
Of course, it may be that among the countless encounters between the police and the citizens of a great city such as Los Angeles, there will be certain instances in which strangleholds will be illegally applied and injury and death unconstitutionally inflicted on the victim. As we have said, however, it is no more than conjecture to suggest that in every instance of a traffic stop, arrest, or other encounter between the police and a citizen, the police will act unconstitutionally and inflict injury without provocation or legal excuse. And it is surely no more than speculation to assert either that Lyons himself will again be involved in one of those unfortunate instances, or that he will be arrested in the future and provoke the use of a chokehold by resisting arrest, attempting to escape, or threatening deadly force or serious bodily injury.
Second, the Court of Appeals viewed O'Shea and Rizzo as cases in which the plaintiffs sought "massive structural" relief against the local law enforcement systems and therefore that the holdings in those cases were inapposite to cases such as this where the plaintiff, according to the Court of Appeals, seeks to enjoin only an "established," "sanctioned" police practice assertedly violative of constitutional rights. O'Shea and Rizzo, however, cannot be so easily confined to their
The Court of Appeals also asserted that Lyons "had a live and active claim" against the City "if only for a period of a few seconds" while the stranglehold was being applied to him and that for two reasons the claim had not become moot so as to disentitle Lyons to injunctive relief: First, because under normal rules of equity, a case does not become moot merely because the complained of conduct has ceased; and second, because Lyons' claim is "capable of repetition but evading review" and therefore should be heard. We agree that Lyons had a live controversy with the City. Indeed, he still has a claim for damages against the City that appears to meet all Art. III requirements. Nevertheless, the issue here is not whether that claim has become moot but whether Lyons meets the preconditions for asserting an injunctive claim in a federal forum. The equitable doctrine that cessation of the challenged conduct does not bar an injunction is of little help in this respect, for Lyons' lack of standing does not rest on the termination of the police practice but on the speculative nature of his claim that he will again experience injury as the result of that practice even if continued.
The rule that a claim does not become moot where it is capable of repetition, yet evades review, is likewise inapposite. Lyons' claim that he was illegally strangled remains to be litigated in his suit for damages; in no sense does that claim "evade" review. Furthermore, the capable-of-repetition doctrine applies only in exceptional situations, and generally only where the named plaintiff can make a reasonable showing that he will again be subjected to the alleged illegality. DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 319 (1974). As we have indicated, Lyons has not made this demonstration.
Our conclusion is that the Court of Appeals failed to heed O'Shea, Rizzo, and other relevant authority, and that the District Court was quite right in dismissing Count V.
Lyons fares no better if it be assumed that his pending damages suit affords him Art. III standing to seek an injunction as a remedy for the claim arising out of the October 1976 events. The equitable remedy is unavailable absent a showing of irreparable injury, a requirement that cannot be met where there is no showing of any real or immediate threat that the plaintiff will be wronged again — a "likelihood of substantial and immediate irreparable injury." O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U. S., at 502. The speculative nature of Lyons' claim of future injury requires a finding that this prerequisite of equitable relief has not been fulfilled.
Nor will the injury that Lyons allegedly suffered in 1976 go unrecompensed; for that injury, he has an adequate remedy at law. Contrary to the view of the Court of Appeals, it is not at all "difficult" under our holding "to see how anyone can ever challenge police or similar administrative practices." 615 F. 2d, at 1250. The legality of the violence to which Lyons claims he was once subjected is at issue in his suit for damages and can be determined there.
Absent a sufficient likelihood that he will again be wronged in a similar way, Lyons is no more entitled to an injunction than any other citizen of Los Angeles; and a federal court may not entertain a claim by any or all citizens who no more than assert that certain practices of law enforcement officers are unconstitutional. Cf. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490 (1975); Schlesinger v. Reservists to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208 (1974); United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166 (1974). This is not to suggest that such undifferentiated claims should not be taken seriously by local authorities. Indeed, the interest of an alert and interested citizen is an essential element of an effective and fair government, whether on the local, state, or national level.
We decline the invitation to slight the preconditions for equitable relief; for as we have held, recognition of the need for a proper balance between state and federal authority counsels restraint in the issuance of injunctions against state officers engaged in the administration of the States' criminal laws in the absence of irreparable injury which is both great and immediate. O'Shea, supra, at 499; Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 46 (1971). Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225 (1972), held that suits brought under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 are exempt from the flat ban against the issuance of injunctions directed at state-court proceedings, 28 U. S. C. § 2283. But this holding did not displace the normal principles of equity, comity, and federalism that should inform the judgment of federal courts when asked to oversee state law enforcement authorities. In exercising their equitable powers federal courts must recognize "[t]he special delicacy of the adjustment to be preserved between federal equitable power and State administration of its own law." Stefanelli v. Minard, 342 U.S. 117, 120 (1951); O'Shea v. Littleton, supra, at 500. See also Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U. S., at 380; Cleary v. Bolger, 371 U.S. 392 (1963); Wilson v. Schnettler, 365 U.S. 381 (1961); Pugach v. Dollinger, 365 U.S. 458 (1961). The Court of Appeals failed to apply these factors properly and therefore erred in finding that the District Court had not abused its discretion in entering an injunction in this case.
As we noted in O'Shea, 414 U. S., at 503, withholding injunctive relief does not mean that the "federal law will exercise
Beyond these considerations the state courts need not impose the same standing or remedial requirements that govern federal-court proceedings. The individual States may permit their courts to use injunctions to oversee the conduct of law enforcement authorities on a continuing basis. But this is not the role of a federal court, absent far more justification than Lyons has proffered in this case.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is accordingly
The District Court found that the city of Los Angeles authorizes its police officers to apply life-threatening chokeholds to citizens who pose no threat of violence, and that respondent, Adolph Lyons, was subjected to such a chokehold. The Court today holds that a federal court is without power to enjoin the enforcement of the city's policy, no matter how flagrantly unconstitutional it may be. Since no one can show that he will be choked in the future, no one — not even a person who, like Lyons, has almost been choked to death — has standing to challenge the continuation of the policy. The city is free to continue the policy indefinitely as long as it is willing to pay damages for the injuries and deaths that result. I dissent from this unprecedented and unwarranted approach to standing.
There is plainly a "case or controversy" concerning the constitutionality of the city's chokehold policy. The constitutionality of that policy is directly implicated by Lyons' claim for damages against the city. The complaint clearly alleges
Respondent Adolph Lyons is a 24-year-old Negro male who resides in Los Angeles. According to the uncontradicted evidence in the record,
On February 7, 1977, Lyons commenced this action under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 against the individual officers and the city, alleging violations of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and seeking damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. He claimed that he was subjected to a chokehold without justification and that defendant officers were "carrying out the official policies, customs and practices of the Los Angeles Police Department and the City of Los Angeles." Count II, ¶ 13.
Although the city instructs its officers that use of a chokehold does not constitute deadly force, since 1975 no less than 16 persons have died following the use of a chokehold by
It is undisputed that chokeholds pose a high and unpredictable risk of serious injury or death. Chokeholds are intended to bring a subject under control by causing pain and rendering him unconscious. Depending on the position of the officer's arm and the force applied, the victim's voluntary
Although there has been no occasion to determine the precise contours of the city's chokehold policy, the evidence submitted to the District Court provides some indications. LAPD Training Officer Terry Speer testified that an officer is authorized to deploy a chokehold whenever he "feels that there's about to be a bodily attack made on him." App. 381 (emphasis added). A training bulletin states that "[c]ontrol holds . . . allow officers to subdue any resistance by the suspects." Exh. 47, p. 1 (emphasis added). In the proceedings below the city characterized its own policy as authorizing the use of chokeholds " `to gain control of a suspect who is violently resisting the officer or trying to escape,' " to "subdue any resistance by the suspects,"
The training given LAPD officers provides additional revealing evidence of the city's chokehold policy. Officer
In determining the appropriateness of a preliminary injunction, the District Court recognized that the city's policy is subject to the constraints imposed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court found that "[d]uring the course of this confrontation, said officers, without provocation or legal justification, applied a Department-authorized chokehold which resulted in injuries to plaintiff." (Emphasis added.) The court found that the "City of Los Angeles and the Department authorize the use of these holds under circumstances where no one is threatened by death or grievous bodily harm." The court concluded that the use of the chokeholds constitutes "deadly force," and that the city may not constitutionally authorize the use of such force "in situations where death or serious bodily harm is not threatened." On the basis of this conclusion, the District Court entered
At the outset it is important to emphasize that Lyons' entitlement to injunctive relief and his entitlement to an award of damages both depend upon whether he can show that the city's chokehold policy violates the Constitution. An indispensable prerequisite of municipal liability under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 is proof that the conduct complained of is attributable to an unconstitutional official policy or custom. Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981); Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U. S., at 694. It is not enough for a § 1983 plaintiff to show that the employees or agents of a municipality have violated or will violate the Constitution, for a municipality will not be held liable solely on a theory of respondeat superior. See Monell, supra, at 694.
The Court errs in suggesting that Lyons' prayer for injunctive relief in Count V of his first amended complaint concerns a policy that was not responsible for his injuries and that therefore could not support an award of damages. Ante, at 106-107, n. 7. Paragraph 8 of the complaint alleges that Lyons was choked "without provocation, legal justification or excuse."
There is no basis for the Court's assertion that Lyons has failed to allege "that the City either orders or authorizes application of the chokeholds where there is no resistance or other provocation." Ante, at 106, n. 7. I am completely at a loss to understand how paragraphs 8 and 13 can be deemed insufficient to allege that the city's policy authorizes the use of chokeholds without provocation. The Court apparently finds Lyons' complaint wanting because, although it alleges that he was choked without provocation and that the officers acted pursuant to an official policy, it fails to allege in haec verba that the city's policy authorizes the choking of suspects without provocation. I am aware of no case decided since the abolition of the old common-law forms of action, and the Court cites none, that in any way supports this crabbed construction of the complaint. A federal court is capable of concluding for itself that two plus two equals four.
The Court also errs in asserting that even if the complaint sufficiently alleges that the city's policy authorizes the use of chokeholds without provocation, such an allegation is in any event "belied by the record made on the application for preliminary injunction." Ibid. This conclusion flatly contradicts the District Court's express factual finding, which was left undisturbed by the Court of Appeals, that the officers applied a "Department-authorized chokehold which resulted in
In sum, it is absolutely clear that Lyons' requests for damages and for injunctive relief call into question the constitutionality of the city's policy concerning the use of chokeholds. If he does not show that that policy is unconstitutional, he will be no more entitled to damages than to an injunction.
Since Lyons' claim for damages plainly gives him standing, and since the success of that claim depends upon a demonstration that the city's chokehold policy is unconstitutional, it is beyond dispute that Lyons has properly invoked the District Court's authority to adjudicate the constitutionality of the city's chokehold policy. The dispute concerning the constitutionality of that policy plainly presents a "case or controversy" under Art. III. The Court nevertheless holds that a federal court has no power under Art. III to adjudicate Lyons' request, in the same lawsuit, for injunctive relief with respect to that very policy. This anomalous result is not supported either by precedent or by the fundamental concern underlying the standing requirement. Moreover, by fragmenting a single claim into multiple claims for particular types of relief and requiring a separate showing of standing for each form of relief, the decision today departs from this
It is simply disingenuous for the Court to assert that its decision requires "[n]o extension" of O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974), and Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). Ante, at 105. In contrast to this case O'Shea and Rizzo involved disputes focusing solely on the threat of future injury which the plaintiffs in those cases alleged they faced. In O'Shea the plaintiffs did not allege past injury and did not seek compensatory relief.
By contrast, Lyons' request for prospective relief is coupled with his claim for damages based on past injury. In addition to the risk that he will be subjected to a chokehold in the future, Lyons has suffered past injury.
The Court's decision likewise finds no support in the fundamental policy underlying the Art. III standing requirement — the concern that a federal court not decide a legal issue if the plaintiff lacks a sufficient "personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult. . . questions." Baker v. Carr, 369 U. S., at 204. As this Court stated in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101 (1968), "the question of standing is related only to whether the dispute sought to be adjudicated will be presented in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution." See also Valley Forge Christian College v.
Because Lyons has a claim for damages against the city, and because he cannot prevail on that claim unless he demonstrates that the city's chokehold policy violates the Constitution, his personal stake in the outcome of the controversy adequately assures an adversary presentation of his challenge to the constitutionality of the policy.
By fragmenting the standing inquiry and imposing a separate standing hurdle with respect to each form of relief sought, the decision today departs significantly from this Court's traditional conception of the standing requirement and of the remedial powers of the federal courts. We have never required more than that a plaintiff have standing to litigate a claim. Whether he will be entitled to obtain particular forms of relief should be prevail has never been understood to be an issue of standing. In determining whether a plaintiff has standing, we have always focused on his personal stake in the outcome of the controversy, not on the issues sought to be litigated, Flast v. Cohen, supra, at 99, or the "precise nature of the relief sought." Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U. S., at 423 (opinion of MARSHALL, J., joined by Warren, C. J., and BRENNAN, J.).
Our cases uniformly state that the touchstone of the Art. III standing requirement is the plaintiff's personal stake in the underlying dispute, not in the particular types of relief sought. Once a plaintiff establishes a personal stake in a dispute, he has done all that is necessary to "invok[e] the court's authority . . . to challenge the action sought to be adjudicated." Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, supra, at 471-472. See, e. g., Flast v. Cohen, 392 U. S., at 101 (stake in "the dispute to be adjudicated in the lawsuit"); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 443 (1972) (plaintiff must have "sufficient interest in challenging the statute's validity").
The personal stake of a litigant depends, in turn, on whether he has alleged a legally redressable injury. In determining whether a plaintiff has a sufficient personal stake in the outcome of a controversy, this Court has asked whether he "personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury," Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99 (1979) (emphasis added), whether the injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action," Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 41 (1976), and whether plaintiff's injury "is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision." Id., at 38. See also Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 74 (1978); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 508 (1975). These well-accepted criteria for determining whether a plaintiff has established the requisite personal stake do not fragment the standing inquiry into a series of discrete questions about the plaintiff's stake in each of the particular types of relief sought. Quite the contrary, they ask simply whether the plaintiff has a sufficient stake in seeking a judicial resolution of the controversy.
Lyons has alleged past injury and a risk of future injury and has linked both to the city's chokehold policy. Under established principles, the only additional question in determining
The Court's decision turns these well-accepted principles on their heads by requiring a separate standing inquiry with
The Court's fragmentation of the standing inquiry is also inconsistent with the way the federal courts have treated remedial issues since the merger of law and equity. The federal practice has been to reserve consideration of the appropriate relief until after a determination of the merits, not to foreclose certain forms of relief by a ruling on the pleadings. The prayer for relief is no part of the plaintiff's cause of action. See 2A J. Moore & J. Lucas, Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 8.18, p. 8-216, and n. 13 (1983) (Moore), and cases cited therein; C. Wright, A. Miller, & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2664 (1983) (Wright, Miller, & Kane). Rather, "[the usual rule is] that where legal rights have been invaded, and a federal statute provides for a general right to sue for such invasion, federal courts may use any available remedy to make good the wrong done." Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 684 (1946) (footnote omitted).
Rule 54(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifically provides that "every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his pleadings." The question whether a plaintiff has stated a claim turns not on "whether [he] has asked for the proper remedy but whether he is entitled to any remedy." (Emphasis added.) Wright, Miller, & Kane § 2664. This is fully consistent with the approach taken in our standing cases. Supra, at 128-129 and this page, and n. 20.
The Court provides no justification for departing from the traditional treatment of remedial issues and demanding a separate threshold inquiry into each form of relief a plaintiff seeks. It is anomalous to require a plaintiff to demonstrate
In sum, the Court's approach to standing is wholly inconsistent with well-established standing principles and clashes with our longstanding conception of the remedial powers of a court and what is necessary to invoke the authority of a court to resolve a particular dispute.
Apart from the question of standing, the only remaining question presented in the petition for certiorari is whether
In the portion of its brief concerning this second question, the city argues that the District Court ignored the principles of federalism set forth in Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). Brief for Petitioner 40-47. The city's reliance on Rizzo is misplaced. That case involved an injunction which "significantly revis[ed] the internal procedures of the Philadelphia police department." 423 U. S., at 379. The injunction required the police department to adopt " `a comprehensive program for dealing adequately with civilian complaints' " to be formulated in accordance with extensive "guidelines" established by the District Court. Id., at 369, quoting Council of Organizations on Phila. Police A. & R. v. Rizzo, 357 F.Supp. 1289, 1321 (1973). Those guidelines specified detailed revisions of police manuals and rules of procedure, as well as the adoption of specific procedures for processing, screening, investigating, and adjudicating citizen complaints. In addition, the District Court supervised the implementation of the comprehensive program, issuing detailed orders concerning the posting and distribution of the revised police procedures and the drawing up of a "Citizen's Complaint Report" in a format designated by the court. The District Court also reserved jurisdiction to review the progress of the police department. 423 U. S., at 365, n. 2. This Court concluded that the sweeping nature of the injunctive relief was inconsistent with "the principles of federalism." Id., at 380.
A district court should be mindful that "federal-court intervention in the daily operation of a large city's police department. . . is undesirable and to be avoided if at all possible." Rizzo, supra, at 381 (BLACKMUN, J., dissenting).
Apparently because it is unwilling to rely solely on its unprecedented rule of standing, the Court goes on to conclude that, even if Lyons has standing, "[t]he equitable remedy is unavailable." Ante, at 111. The Court's reliance on this alternative ground is puzzling for two reasons.
If, as the Court says, Lyons lacks standing under Art. III, the federal courts have no power to decide his entitlement to equitable relief on the merits. Under the Court's own view of Art. III, the Court's discussion in Part V is purely an advisory opinion.
In addition, the question whether injunctive relief is available under equitable principles is simply not before us. We granted certiorari only to determine whether Lyons has standing and whether, if so, the preliminary injunction must be set aside because it constitutes an impermissible interference in the operation of a municipal police department. We did not grant certiorari to consider whether Lyons satisfies the traditional prerequisites for equitable relief. See n. 22, supra.
Even if the issue had been properly raised, I could not agree with the Court's disposition of it. With the single exception of Rizzo v. Goode, supra,
Our prior decisions have repeatedly emphasized that where an injunction is not directed against a state criminal or quasi-criminal proceeding, "the relevant principles of equity, comity, and federalism" that underlie the Younger doctrine "have little force." Steffel v. Thompson, supra, at 462, citing Lake Carriers' Assn. v. MacMullan, 406 U.S. 498, 509 (1972). Outside the special context in which the Younger doctrine applies, we have held that the appropriateness of injunctive relief is governed by traditional equitable considerations. See Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 930 (1975). Whatever the precise scope of the Younger doctrine may be, the concerns of comity and federalism that counsel restraint when a federal court is asked to enjoin a state criminal proceeding simply do not apply to an injunction directed solely at a police department.
If the preliminary injunction granted by the District Court is analyzed under general equitable principles, rather than the more stringent standards of Younger v. Harris, it becomes apparent that there is no rule of law that precludes equitable relief and requires that the preliminary injunction be set aside. "In reviewing such interlocutory relief, this Court may only consider whether issuance of the injunction constituted an abuse of discretion." Brown v. Chote, 411 U.S. 452, 457 (1973).
The District Court concluded, on the basis of the facts before it, that Lyons was choked without provocation pursuant to an unconstitutional city policy. Supra, at 119. Given the necessarily preliminary nature of its inquiry, there was no way for the District Court to know the precise contours of the city's policy or to ascertain the risk that Lyons, who had alleged that the policy was being applied in a discriminatory manner, might again be subjected to a chokehold. But in view of the Court's conclusion that the unprovoked choking of
Indeed, this Court has approved of a decision that directed issuance of a permanent injunction in a similar situation. See Lankford v. Gelston, 364 F.2d 197 (CA4 1966), cited with approval in Allee v. Medrano, 416 U.S. 802, 816, n. 9 (1974). See n. 15, supra. In Lankford, citizens whose houses had been searched solely on the basis of uncorroborated, anonymous tips sought injunctive relief. The Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that the plaintiffs were entitled to an injunction against enforcement of the police department policy authorizing such searches, even though there was no evidence that their homes would be searched in the future. Lyons is no less entitled to seek injunctive relief. To hold otherwise is to vitiate "one of the most valuable features of equity jurisdiction, to anticipate and prevent a threatened injury, where the damages would be insufficient or irreparable." Vicksburg Waterworks Co. v. Vicksburg, 185 U.S. 65, 82 (1902).
The Court's decision removes an entire class of constitutional violations from the equitable powers of a federal court. It immunizes from prospective equitable relief any policy that authorizes persistent deprivations of constitutional rights as long as no individual can establish with substantial certainty that he will be injured, or injured again, in the future. THE CHIEF JUSTICE asked in Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 419 (1971) (dissenting opinion), "what would be the judicial response to a police order authorizing `shoot to kill' with respect to every fugitive"? His answer was that it would be "easy to predict our collective wrath and outrage." Ibid. We now learn that wrath and outrage cannot be translated into an order to cease the unconstitutional practice, but only an award of damages to those who are victimized by the practice and live to sue and to the survivors of those who are not so fortunate. Under the view expressed by the majority today, if the police adopt a policy of "shoot to kill," or a policy of shooting 1 out of 10 suspects, the federal courts will be powerless to enjoin its continuation. Cf. Linda R. S. v. Richard D., 410 U. S., at 621 (WHITE, J., dissenting). The federal judicial power is now limited to levying a toll for such a systematic constitutional violation.
First, Lyons alleges in Count II of his first amended complaint that on October 6, 1976, the officers were carrying out official policies of the City. That allegation was incorporated by reference in Count V. That policy, however, is described in paragraphs 20 and 23 of Count V as authorizing the use of chokeholds "in situations where [the officers] are threatened by far less than deadly force." This is not equivalent to the unbelievable assertion that the City either orders or authorizes application of the chokeholds where there is no resistance or other provocation.
Second, even if such an allegation is thought to be contained in the complaint, it is belied by the record made on the application for preliminary injunction.
Third, even if the complaint must be read as containing an allegation that officers are authorized to apply the chokeholds where there is no resistance or other provocation, it does not follow that Lyons has standing to seek an injunction against the application of the restraint holds in situations that he has not experienced, as for example, where the suspect resists arrest or tries to escape but does not threaten the use of deadly force. Yet that is precisely the scope of the injunction that Lyons prayed for in Count V.
Fourth, and in any event, to have a case or controversy with the City that could sustain Count V, Lyons would have to credibly allege that he faced a realistic threat from the future application of the City's policy. JUSTICE MARSHALL nowhere confronts this requirement — the necessity that Lyons demonstrate that he, himself, will not only again be stopped by the police but will also be choked without any provocation or legal excuse. JUSTICE MARSHALL plainly does not agree with that requirement, and he was in dissent in O'Shea v. Littleton. We are at issue in that respect.
Of the 16 deaths, 10 occurred prior to the District Court's issuance of the preliminary injunction, although at that time the parties and the court were aware of only 9. On December 24, 1980, the Court of Appeals stayed the preliminary injunction pending appeal. Four additional deaths occurred during the period prior to the grant of a further stay pending filing and disposition of a petition for certiorari, 453 U.S. 1308 (1981) (REHNQUIST, J., in chambers), and two more deaths occurred thereafter.
The city does not maintain a record of injuries to suspects.
"From a medical point of view, the bar arm control is extremely dangerous in an unpredictable fashion. Pressure from a locked forearm across the neck sufficient to compress and close the trachea applied for a sufficient period of time to cause unconsciousness from asphyxia must, to an anatomical certainty, also result in . . . a very high risk of a fractured hyoid bone or crushed larynx. The risk is substantial, but at the same time, unpredictable.
"It depends for one thing on which vertical portion of the neck the forearm pressure is exerted. . . .
"Another factor contributing to unpredictability is the reaction of the victim. . . . [The] pressure exerted in a bar arm control . . . can result in a laryngeal spasm or seizure which simply shuts off the trachial air passage, leading to death by asphyxiation. Also, it must result in transmission to the brain of nerve messages that there is immediate, acute danger of death. This transmission immediately sets up a `flight or flee' syndrome wherein the body reacts violently to save itself or escape. Adrenalin output increases enormously; blood oxygen is switched to muscles and strong, violent struggle ensues which is to a great extent involuntary. From a medical point of view, there would be no way to distinguish this involuntary death struggle from a wilful, voluntary resistance. Thus, an instruction to cease applying the hold when `resistance ceases' is meaningless.
"This violent struggle . . . increases the risk of permanent injury or death to the victim. This reserve may already be in a state of reduction by reason of cardiac, respiratory or other disease.
"The LAPD [operates under a] misconception . . . that the length of time for applying the hold is the sole measure of risk. This is simply not true. If sufficient force is applied, the larynx can be crushed or hyoid fractured with death ensuing, in seconds. An irreversible laryngeal spasm can also occur in seconds.
"From a medical point of view, the carotid control is extremely dangerous in a manner that is at least as equally unpredictable as the bar arm control.
". . . When applied with sufficient pressure, this control will crush the carotid sheath against the bony structure of the neck, foreseeably shutting down the supply of oxygenated blood to the brain and leading to unconsciousness in approximately 10 to 15 seconds.
"However, pressure on both carotid sheaths also results in pressure, if inadvertent or unintended, on both of the vagus nerves. The vagus nerves (right and left) arise in the brain and are composed of both sensory and motor fibers. . . . Stimulation of these nerves by pressure can activate reflexes within the vagus system that can result in immediate heart stoppage (cardiac arrest). . . . There is also evidence that cardiac arrest can result from simultaneous pressure on both vagus nerves regardless of the intensity or duration of the pressure."
The District Court refrained from determining the precise nature of the city's policy given the limited nature of its inquiry at the preliminary injunction stage. Brown v. Chote, 411 U.S. 452, 456 (1973).
It is unnecessary to decide here whether the standing of a plaintiff who alleges past injury that is legally redressable depends on whether he specifically seek damages. See Lankford v. Gelston, supra (plaintiffs who did not seek damages permitted to seek injunctive relief based on past injury). See n. 15, supra.
The Court's reliance on the precise terms of the injunction sought in Count V is also misplaced for a more fundamental reason. Whatever may be said for the Court's novel rule that a separate showing of standing must be made for each form of relief requested, the Court is simply wrong in assuming that the scope of the injunction prayed for raises a question of standing. A litigant is entitled to advance any substantive legal theory which would entitle him to relief. Lyons' entitlement to relief may ultimately rest on the principle that a municipality may not authorize the use of chokeholds absent a threat of deadly force. This principle, which the District Court tentatively embraced in issuing the preliminary injunction, would support the entire injunction sought in Count V. Alternatively, Lyons' entitlement to relief may rest on some narrower theory. If Lyons prevails, the appropriateness of the injunction prayed for in Count V will depend on the legal principle upon which the District Court predicates its decision. It may well be judicious for the District Court, in the exercise of its discretion, to rest its decision on a theory that would not support the full scope of the injunction that Lyons requests. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with Lyons' standing.