MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Appellant is a town attorney in Nassau County, N. Y., who, along with other local law enforcement officials, was preliminary enjoined by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York from enforcing a local ordinance of the town of North Hempstead. Salem Inn, Inc. v. Frank, 364 F.Supp. 478 (1973), aff'd, 501 F.2d 18 (CA2 1974). In addition to defending the ordinance on the merits, he contends that the complaint should have been dismissed on the authority of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and its companion cases.
Appellees are three corporations which operate bars at various locations within the town. Prior to enactment of the ordinance in question, each provided topless dancing as entertainment for its customers. On July 17, 1973, the town enacted Local Law No. 1-1973, an ordinance making it unlawful for bar owners and others to permit waitresses, barmaids, and entertainers to appear in their establishments with breasts uncovered or so thinly draped as to appear uncovered. Appellees complied with the ordinance by clothing their dancers in bikini tops, but on August 9, 1973, brought this action in the District Court under 42 U. S. C. § 1983. They alleged that the ordinance violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Their pleadings sought a temporary restraining
On August 10, the day after the appellees' complaint was filed, and their application for a temporary restraining order denied, one of them, M & L Restaurant, Inc., resumed its briefly suspended presentation of topless dancing. On that day, and each of the three succeeding days, M & L and its topless dancers were served with criminal summonses based on violation of the ordinance.
On September 5, 1973, appellant filed an answer which alleged that a criminal prosecution had been instituted against at least one of the appellees; the District Court was urged to "refuse to exercise jurisdiction" and to dismiss the complaint. App. 33.
On September 6, 1973, on the basis of oral argument and memoranda of law, the District Court entered an opinion and order in which it "[found] that (1) Local Law No. 1-1973 of the Town of North Hempstead is on its face violative of plaintiffs' First Amendment rights in that it prohibits across the board nonobscene conduct in the form of topless dancing, and (2) that the daily penalty of $500 for each violation of the ordinance, the prior state-court decision validating a similar ordinance,
The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed by a divided vote. It held that the "ordinance would have to fall," 501 F. 2d, at 21, and that the claim of deprivation of constitutional rights and diminution of business warranted the issuance of a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals rejected appellant's claim that the District Court ought to have dismissed appellees' complaint on the authority of Younger v. Harris, supra, and its companion cases. As to Salem and Tim-Rob, Younger did not present a bar because there had at no time been a pending prosecution against them under the ordinance. As for M & L, the court thought that it posed "a slightly different problem," 501 F. 2d, at 22, since the state prosecution was begun only one day after the filing of appellees' complaint in the District Court. The court recognized that this situation was not squarely covered by either Younger or Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452 (1974), but concluded that the interests of avoiding contradictory outcomes, of conservation of judicial energy, and of a clearcut method for determining when federal
We deal first with a preliminary jurisdictional matter. This appeal was taken under 28 U. S. C. § 1254 (2), which provides this Court with appellate jurisdiction at the behest of a party relying on a state statute held unconstitutional by a court of appeals.
Turning to the Younger issues raised by petitioner, we are faced with the necessity of determining whether the holdings of Younger, supra, Steffel, supra, and Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66 (1971), must give way before such interests in efficient judicial administration as were relied upon by the Court of Appeals. We think
We do not agree with the Court of Appeals, therefore, that all three plaintiffs should automatically be thrown into the same hopper for Younger purposes, and should thereby each be entitled to injunctive relief. We cannot accept that view, any more than we can accept petitioner's equally Procrustean view that because M & L would have been barred from injunctive relief had it been the sole plaintiff, Salem and Tim-Rob should likewise be barred not only from injunctive relief but from declaratory relief as well. While there plainly may be some circumstances in which legally distinct parties are so closely related that they should all be subject to the Younger considerations which govern any one of them, this is not such a case—while respondents are represented
Respondent M & L could have pursued the course taken by the other respondents after the denial of their request for a temporary restraining order. Had it done so, it would not have subjected itself to prosecution for violation of the ordinance in the state court. When the criminal summonses issued against M & L on the days immediately following the filing of the federal complaint, the federal litigation was in an embryonic stage and no contested matter had been decided. In this posture, M & L's prayer for injunction is squarely governed by Younger.
We likewise believe that for the same reasons Samuels v. Mackell bars M & L from obtaining declaratory relief, absent a showing of Younger's special circumstances, even though the state prosecution was commenced the day following the filing of the federal complaint. Having violated the ordinance, rather than awaiting the normal development of its federal lawsuit, M & L cannot now be heard to complain that its constitutional contentions are being resolved in a state court. Thus M & L's prayers for both injunctive and declaratory relief are subject to Younger's restrictions.
No state proceedings were pending against either Salem or Tim-Rob at the time the District Court issued its preliminary injunction. Nor was there any question that they satisfied the requirements for federal jurisdiction. As we have already stated, they were assuredly entitled to declaratory relief, and since we have previously
The traditional standard for granting a preliminary injunction requires the plaintiff to show that in the absence of its issuance he will suffer irreparable injury and also that he is likely to prevail on the merits. It is recognized, however, that a district court must weigh carefully the interests on both sides. Although only temporary, the injunction does prohibit state and local enforcement activities against the federal plaintiff pending final resolution of his case in the federal court. Such a result seriously impairs the State's interest in enforcing its criminal laws, and implicates the concerns for federalism which lie at the heart of Younger.
But while the standard to be applied by the district court in deciding whether a plaintiff is entitled to a preliminary injunction is stringent, the standard of appellate
The other inquiry relevant to preliminary relief is whether respondents made a sufficient showing of the likelihood of ultimate success on the merits. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals found such a likelihood. The order of the District Court spoke in terms of actually holding the ordinance unconstitutional, but in the context of a preliminary injunction the court must have intended to refer only to the likelihood that respondents ultimately would prevail. The Court of Appeals properly clarified this point. 501 F. 2d, at 20-21.
Although the customary "barroom" type of nude dancing may involve only the barest minimum of protected expression, we recognized in California v. LaRue, 409 U.S. 109, 118 (1972), that this form of entertainment might be entitled to First and Fourteenth Amendment protection under some circumstances. In LaRue, however, we concluded that the broad powers of the States to regulate the sale of liquor, conferred by the Twenty-first Amendment, outweighed any First Amendment interest in nude dancing and that a State could
In the present case, the challenged ordinance applies not merely to places which serve liquor, but to many other establishments as well. The District Court observed, we believe correctly:
We have previously held that even though a statute or ordinance may be constitutionally applied to the activities of a particular defendant, that defendant may challenge it on the basis of overbreadth if it is so drawn as to sweep within its ambit protected speech or expression of other persons not before the Court. As we said in Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 114 (1972):
Even if we may assume that the State of New York has delegated its authority under the Twenty-first Amendment to towns such as North Hempstead, and that the ordinance would therefore be constitutionally valid under LaRue, supra, if limited to places dispensing alcoholic beverages, the ordinance in this case is not so
In these circumstances, and in the light of existing case law, we cannot conclude that the District Court abused its discretion by granting preliminary injunctive relief. This is the extent of our appellate inquiry, and we therefore "intimate no view as to the ultimate merits of [respondents'] contentions." Brown v. Chote, supra, at 457. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed as to respondent M & L, and affirmed as to respondents Salem and Tim-Rob.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.
While adhering to my position in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 58 (1971) (dissenting opinion), I join the judgment of the Court insofar as it holds that Salem Inn and Tim-Rob were entitled to a preliminary injunction pending disposition of their request for declaratory relief. I do not condone the conduct of M & L in violating the challenged ordinance without awaiting judicial action on its federal complaint, but like the Court of Appeals, I find no compelling reason to distinguish M & L from the other respondents in terms of the relief which is appropriate. I would therefore affirm the judgment below in all respects.