MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST announced the judgment of the Court, and delivered an opinion in which MR. JUSTICE STEWART, MR. JUSTICE WHITE, and MR. JUSTICE STEVENS joined.
On August 15, 1977, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted a petition for writ of mandamus ordering petitioner, a judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, "to proceed immediately" to adjudicate a claim based upon the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and brought by respondent, Calvert Fire Insurance Co., against American Mutual Reinsurance Co., despite the pendency of a substantially identical proceeding between the same parties in the Illinois state courts. 560 F.2d 792, 797. The Court of Appeals felt that our recent decision in Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976), compelled the issuance of the writ. We granted
Respondent Calvert writes property and casualty insurance. American Mutual operates a reinsurance pool whereby a number of primary insurers protect themselves against unanticipated losses. Membership in the pool requires both the payment of premiums by pool members and indemnification of the pool in the event that losses exceed those upon which the premiums are calculated. Calvert joined the pool in early 1974, but in April of that year notified American Mutual of its election to rescind the agreement by which it became a member.
In July 1974, American Mutual sued in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., to obtain a declaration that the pool agreement between it and Calvert was in full force and effect. Six months later, Calvert in its answer to that suit asserted that the pool agreement was not enforceable against it because of violations by American Mutual of the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Illinois Securities Act, the Maryland Securities Law, and the state common law of fraud. With its answer Calvert filed a counterclaim seeking $2 million in damages from American Mutual on all of the grounds that it set up in defense except for the defense based on the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Since § 27 of that Act, 48 Stat. 902, as amended, 15 U. S. C. § 78aa (1976 ed.), granted the district courts of the United States exclusive jurisdiction to enforce the Act, Calvert on the same day filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeking damages from American Mutual for an alleged violation of Rule 10b-5, 17 CFR § 240.10b-5 (1977), issued under § 10 (b) of the Act, 15 U. S. C. § 78j (b) (1976 ed.). Joined with this Rule 10b-5
In February 1975, more than seven months after it had begun its state-court action, but less than one month after Calvert had filed its answer and counterclaim in that action and its complaint in the federal court, American Mutual moved to dismiss or abate the latter. The claim for dismissal was based on the substantive assertion that the reinsurance agreement was not a "security" within the meaning of the 1933 or 1934 Act. The motion to abate was based on the fact that the state proceedings commenced six months before the federal proceedings included every claim and defense except the claim for damages based on Rule 10b-5 under the 1934 Act.
In May 1975, Judge Will substantially granted American Mutual's motion to defer the federal proceeding until the completion of the state proceedings, observing that a tentative trial date had already been set by the state court. Federal litigation of the same issues would therefore be duplicative and wasteful. He rejected Calvert's contention that the court should proceed with the entire case because of its exclusive jurisdiction under the 1934 Act, noting that the state court was bound to provide the equitable relief sought by Calvert by recognizing a valid Rule 10b-5 claim as a defense to the state action.
Judge Will rejected two motions to reconsider his stay order and refused to certify an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 1292 (b). On May 26, 1976, Calvert petitioned the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for a writ of mandamus directing Judge Will to proceed to adjudicate its Rule 10b-5 claims.
The correct disposition of this case hinges in large part on the appropriate standard of inquiry to be employed by a court of appeals in determining whether to issue a writ of mandamus to a district court. On direct appeal, a court of appeals has broad authority to "modify, vacate, set aside or reverse" an order of a district court, and it may direct such further action on remand "as may be just under the circumstances." 28 U. S. C. § 2106. By contrast, under the All Writs Act, 28 U. S. C. § 1651 (a), courts of appeals may issue a writ of mandamus only when "necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions." Whereas a simple showing of error may suffice to obtain a reversal on direct appeal, to issue a writ of mandamus under such circumstances "would undermine the settled limitations upon the power of an appellate court to review interlocutory orders." Will v. United States, 389 U.S. 90, 98 n. 6 (1967).
As we have repeatedly reaffirmed in cases such as Kerr v. United States District Court, 426 U.S. 394, 402 (1976), and Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 382 (1953), the "traditional use of the writ in aid of appellate jurisdiction both at common law and in the federal courts has been to confine an inferior court to a lawful exercise of its prescribed jurisdiction or to compel it to exercise its authority when it is its duty to do so." Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., 319 U.S. 21, 26 (1943). Calvert makes no contention that petitioner has exceeded the bounds of his jurisdiction. Rather, it contends that the District Court, in entering the stay order, has refused "to exercise its authority when it is its duty to do so." Ibid. There can be no doubt that, where a district
To say that a court of appeals has the power to direct a district court to proceed to judgment in a pending case "when it is its duty to do so," 319 U. S., at 26, states the standard but does not decide this or any other particular case. It is essential that the moving party satisfy "the burden of showing that its right to issuance of the writ is `clear and indisputable.'" Bankers Life & Cas. Co., supra, at 384, quoting United States v. Duell, 172 U.S. 576, 582 (1899). Judge Will urges that Calvert does not have a "clear and indisputable" right to the adjudication of its claims in the District Court without regard to the concurrent state proceedings. To that issue we now must turn.
It is well established that "the pendency of an action in the state court is no bar to proceedings concerning the same matter in the Federal court having jurisdiction." McClellan v. Carland, 217 U.S. 268, 282 (1910). It is equally well settled that a district court is "under no compulsion to exercise that jurisdiction," Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co., 316 U.S. 491,
This power has not always been so clear. In McClellan, on facts similar to those presented here, this Court indicated that the writ might properly issue where the District Court had stayed its proceedings in deference to concurrent state proceedings.
The decision in such circumstances is largely committed to the discretion of the district court. 316 U. S., at 494. Furthermore, Colorado River, supra, at 820, established that such deference may be equally appropriate even when matters of substantive federal law are involved in the case.
It is true that Colorado River emphasized "the virtually unflagging obligation of the federal courts to exercise the jurisdiction given them." 424 U. S., at 817. That language underscores our conviction that a district court should exercise its discretion with this factor in mind, but it in no way undermines the conclusion of Brillhart that the decision whether to defer to the concurrent jurisdiction of a state court is, in the last analysis, a matter committed to the district court's discretion. Seizing upon the phrase "unflagging obligation" in an opinion which upheld the correctness of a district court's final decision to dismiss because of concurrent jurisdiction does little to bolster a claim for the extraordinary writ of mandamus in a case such as this where the District Court has rendered no final decision.
We think it of considerably more importance than did the Court of Appeals that Colorado River came before the Court of Appeals on appeal pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 1291 following outright dismissal of the action by the District Court, rather than through an effort on the part of the federal-court plaintiff to seek mandamus. Calvert contends here, and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed, that Judge Will's order deferring the federal proceedings was "equivalent to a dismissal." 560 F. 2d, at 796. We are loath to rest our analysis on this ubiquitous phrase, for if used carelessly or without a precise definition it may impede rather than assist sound resolution of the underlying legal issue.
There are sound reasons for our reiteration of the rule that a district court's decision to defer proceedings because of concurrent state litigation is generally committed to the discretion of that court. No one can seriously contend that a busy federal trial judge, confronted both with competing demands on his time for matters properly within his jurisdiction and with inevitable scheduling difficulties because of the unavailability of lawyers, parties, and witnesses, is not entrusted with a wide latitude in setting his own calendar. Had Judge Will simply decided on his own initiative to defer setting this case for trial until the state proceedings were completed, his action would have been the "equivalent" of granting the motion of American Mutual to defer, yet such action would at best have afforded Calvert a highly dubious claim for mandamus. We think the fact that the judge accomplished this same result by ruling favorably on a party's motion to defer does not change the underlying legal question.
Although the District Court's exercise of its discretion may be subject to review and modification in a proper interlocutory appeal, cf. Landis, 299 U. S., at 256-259, we are convinced that it ought not to be overridden by a writ of mandamus.
Calvert contends that a district court is without power to stay proceedings, in deference to a contemporaneous state action, where the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over the issue presented. Whether or not this is so, petitioner has not purported to stay consideration of Calvert's claim for damages under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which is the only issue which may not be concurrently resolved by both courts.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring in the judgment.
The plurality's opinion, ante, at 662-663, appears to me to indicate that it now regards as fully compatible the Court's decisions in Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co., 316 U.S. 491 (1942), a diversity case, and Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976), a federal-issue case. I am not at all sure that this is so. I—as were MR. JUSTICE STEWART and MR. JUSTICE STEVENS—was in dissent in Colorado River, and if the holding in that case is what I think it is, and if one assumes, as I do not, that Brillhart has any application here, the Court cut back on Mr. Justice Frankfurter's rather sweeping language in Brillhart, 316 U. S., at 494-495.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, dissenting.
I am in general agreement with MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN'S dissenting opinion. I write separately only to emphasize that I consider it unnecessary to determine in the context of this case whether it would ever be appropriate to give res judicata effect to a state-court judgment implicating a claim over which the federal courts have been given exclusive jurisdiction. Our concern here is simply with the propriety of a federal court's delaying adjudication of such a claim in deference to a state-court proceeding. As MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN correctly notes, whatever the proper resolution of the res judicata issue, a federal court remains under an obligation to expeditiously consider and resolve those claims which Congress explicitly reserved to the federal courts. With this minor caveat, I join MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN in his dissent.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, and MR. JUSTICE POWELL join, dissenting.
This case falls within none of the three general abstention categories, and the opinion of my Brother REHNQUIST therefore
Because this case came to the Court of Appeals on respondent Calvert Fire Insurance Co.'s motion for a writ of mandamus to compel Judge Will to adjudicate its claims for damages and equitable relief under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (1934 Act), I agree with my Brother REHNQUIST that it is essential to determine precisely what obligation the District Court had to adjudicate respondent's 1934 Act claims. That, however, is as far as my agreement goes.
On the same day Calvert filed its answer to the state suit instituted against it—an answer containing a defense under the 1934 Act that the state court was required to recognize under the Supremacy Clause—it commenced an action in Federal District Court seeking relief under the 1934 Act, the Securities Act of 1933, and various state provisions. The District Court stayed all claims alleged in this complaint, other than Calvert's claim for money damages under Rule 10b-5 of the 1934 Act, pending the outcome of the state suit. Although the District Court did not formally stay the Rule 10b-5 damages claim and heard oral argument on the primary
Section 27 of the 1934 Act, 15 U. S. C. § 78aa (1976 ed.), gives the federal courts exclusive jurisdiction over claims arising under the Act. This jurisdictional grant evinces a legislative desire for the uniform determination of such claims by tribunals expert in the administration of federal laws and sensitive to the national concerns underlying them. When Congress thus mandates that only federal courts shall exercise jurisdiction to adjudicate specified claims, the "well established" principle
In Brillhart, the District Court dismissed a diversity suit for a declaratory judgment because of the pendency in state court of a suit between the same parties and involving the same subject matter. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the dismissal was an abuse of discretion. In reversing the Court of Appeals, this Court reasoned:
As is readily apparent, crucial to this Court's approval of the District Court's dismissal of the suit in Brillhart were two factors absent here. First, because the federal suit was founded on diversity, state rather than federal law would govern the outcome of the federal suit. Second, and more significantly, the federal suit was for a declaratory judgment. Under the terms of the provision empowering federal courts to entertain declaratory judgment suits, 28 U. S. C. § 2201, the assumption of jurisdiction over such suits is discretionary. That section provides: "In a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction . . . any court of the United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration. . . ." (Emphasis added.) It was primarily because federal jurisdiction over declaratory judgment suits is
The unpersuasive grope for supporting precedent in which the opinion of my Brother REHNQUIST engages is especially lamentable in light of our decision only two Terms ago in Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States. In Colorado River we addressed the precise issue presented here: the circumstances in which it is appropriate for a federal district court to stay a proceeding before it in deference to a parallel state-court proceeding in situations falling within none of the traditional categories for federal abstention. We explained that, in contrast to situations in which jurisdiction is concurrent in two or more federal courts,
Such rare circumstances were present in Colorado River. There, the decisive factor in favor of staying the concurrent federal proceedings was "[t]he clear federal policy," evinced by the McCarran Amendment, of "avoid[ing the] piecemeal adjudication of water rights in a river system . . . a policy that recognizes the availability of comprehensive state systems for adjudication of water rights as the means for achieving [this] goa[l]." 424 U. S., at 819. No comparable federal policy favoring unitary state adjudication exists here. In fact, as evinced by the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts to determine 1934 Act claims, the relevant federal policy here is the precise opposite of that found to require deference to the concurrent state proceeding in Colorado River.
All this is not to say that I disagree with the refusal of the opinion of my Brother REHNQUIST to decide what preclusive effects the state court's determination of Calvert's Rule 10b-5 defense would have in Calvert's federal action, so much as it is to expose the opinion's error in failing even to consider the res judicata/collateral estoppel problem in evaluating the District Court's obligation to adjudicate Calvert's Rule 10b-5 claim. In my view, regardless of whether the state-court judgment would be given res judicata or collateral-estoppel effect, it was incumbent upon the District Court—at least in the absence of other overriding reasons—expeditiously to adjudicate at least Calvert's 1934 Act claims. If res judicata effect is accorded the prior state-court judgment, the exclusive jurisdiction
Whether evaluated under the "clear abuse of discretion" standard set forth in La Buy v. Howes Leather Co., 352 U.S. 249, 257 (1957), or under the prong of Will v. United States, 389 U.S. 90, 95 (1967), and Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., 319 U.S. 21, 26 (1943), that permits the use of mandamus "to compel [an inferior court] to exercise its authority when it is its duty to do so," the issuance of the writ of mandamus by the Court of Appeals was proper; there is simply a complete dearth of "exceptional" circumstances countervailing the District Court's "unflagging obligation" to exercise its exclusive jurisdiction. The opinion of my Brother REHNQUIST asserts, however, that the District Court "has not purported to stay consideration of Calvert's claim for damages under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934," but rather has simply "not yet ruled upon this claim." Ante, at 666. While technically accurate, this characterization of the status of the proceedings below utterly ignores two important facts that shed more than
This Court has held that mandamus will lie to correct a district court's improper deference to pending state-court proceedings, McClellan v. Carland, 217 U.S. 268 (1910), and to preserve a proper federal-court determination of a federal issue, Beacon Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500 (1959). Where, as here, both of these justifications are present, the propriety of the issuance of the writ cannot be questioned. I would affirm the Court of Appeals.
The petition did not seek to require Judge Will to proceed with the state-law claims or the federal claim based on the 1933 Act. 560 F.2d 792, 794 n. 2.
Beacon Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500 (1959), is not to the contrary. Both the Court and the dissenters agreed that mandamus should issue to protect a clear right to a jury trial. Id., at 511; ibid. (STEWART, J., dissenting). The Court simply concluded that it was "not permissible," id., at 508, for the District Court to postpone a jury trial until after most of the relevant issues had been settled in an equitable action before the court. Here, we have repeatedly recognized that it is permissible for a district court to defer to the concurrent jurisdiction of a state court.
"The granting of the remedy of a declaratory judgment is . . . discretionary with the court and it may be refused if it will not finally settle the rights of the parties or if it is being sought merely to determine issues involved in cases already pending. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Quarles, 4 Cir., 92 F.2d 321. It may not be refused, however, merely on the ground that another remedy is available . . . or because of the pendency of another suit, if the controversy between the parties will not necessarily be determined in that suit."