Federal courts lack competence to rule definitively on the meaning of state legislation, see, e. g., Reetz v. Bozanich, 397 U.S. 82, 86-87 (1970), nor may they adjudicate challenges to state measures absent a showing of actual impact on the challenger, see, e. g., Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 110 (1969). The Ninth Circuit, in the case at hand, lost sight of these limitations. The initiating plaintiff, Maria-Kelly F. Yniguez, sought federal-court resolution of a novel question: the compatibility with the Federal Constitution of a 1988 amendment to Arizona's Constitution declaring English "the official language of the State of Arizona"—"the language of. . . all government functions and actions." Ariz. Const., Art. XXVIII, §§ 1(1), 1(2). Participants in the federal litigation, proceeding without benefit of the views of the Arizona Supreme Court, expressed diverse opinions on the meaning of the amendment.
Yniguez commenced and maintained her suit as an individual, not as a class representative. A state employee at the time she filed her complaint, Yniguez voluntarily left the State's employ in 1990 and did not allege she would seek to return to a public post. Her departure for a position in the private sector made her claim for prospective relief moot. Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit held that a plea for nominal damages could be read into Yniguez's complaint to save the case, and therefore pressed on to an ultimate decision. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals declared Article XXVIII unconstitutional in 1994, and a divided en banc court, in 1995, adhered to the panel's position.
The Ninth Circuit had no warrant to proceed as it did. The case had lost the essential elements of a justiciable controversy and should not have been retained for adjudication on the merits by the Court of Appeals. We therefore
A 1988 Arizona ballot initiative established English as the official language of the State. Passed on November 8, 1988, by a margin of one percentage point,
Federal-court litigation challenging the constitutionality of Article XXVIII commenced two days after the ballot initiative passed. On November 10, 1988, Maria-Kelly F. Yniguez, then an insurance claims manager in the Arizona Department of Administration's Risk Management Division, sued the State of Arizona in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Yniguez invoked 42 U. S. C.
Fluent in English and Spanish, Yniguez was engaged primarily in handling medical malpractice claims against the State. In her daily service to the public, she spoke English to persons who spoke only that language, Spanish to persons who spoke only that language, and a combination of English and Spanish to persons able to communicate in both languages. Record, Doc. No. 62, ¶¶ 8, 13 (Statement of Stipulated Facts, filed Feb. 9, 1989). Yniguez feared that Article XXVIII's instruction to "act in English," § 3(1)(a), if read broadly, would govern her job performance "every time she [did] something." See Record, Doc. No. 62, ¶ 10. She believed she would lose her job or face other sanctions if she did not immediately refrain from speaking Spanish while serving the State. See App. 58, ¶ 19 (Second Amended Complaint). Yniguez asserted that Article XXVIII violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 252, 42 U. S. C. § 2000d. She requested injunctive and declaratory relief, counsel fees, and "all other relief that the
All defendants named in Yniguez's complaint moved to dismiss all claims asserted against them.
Trial on the merits of Yniguez's complaint, the parties agreed, would be combined with the hearing on her motion for a preliminary injunction.
On February 9, 1989, two weeks after release of the Attorney General's opinion, the parties filed a statement of stipulated facts, which reported Governor Mofford's opposition to the ballot initiative, her intention nevertheless "to comply with Article XXVIII," and her expectation that "State service employees [would] comply" with the measure. See Record, Doc. No. 62, ¶¶ 35, 36, 39. The stipulation confirmed the view of all parties that "[t]he efficient operation [and administration] of the State is enhanced by permitting State service employees to communicate with citizens of the State in languages other than English where the citizens are not proficient in English." Id., ¶¶ 16, 17. In particular, the parties recognized that "Yniguez'[s] use of a language other
The District Court heard testimony on two days in February and April 1989, and disposed of the case in an opinion and judgment filed February 6, 1990. Yniguez v. Mofford, 730 F.Supp. 309. Prior to that final decision, the court had dismissed the State of Arizona as a defendant, accepting the State's plea of Eleventh Amendment immunity. See id., at 311. Yniguez's second amended complaint, filed February 23, 1989, accordingly named as defendants only the Governor, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Department of Administration. See App. 55.
The District Court determined first that, among the named defendants, only the Governor, in her official capacity, was a proper party. The Attorney General, the District Court found, had no authority under Arizona law to enforce provisions like Article XXVIII against state employees. 730 F. Supp., at 311-312. The Director and the Governor,
The Attorney General "ha[d] formally interpreted Article XXVIII as not imposing any restrictions on Yniguez's continued use of Spanish during the course of her official duties," id., at 312, and indeed all three named defendants— Mofford as well as Corbin and Eden, see supra, at 50—"ha[d] stated on the record that Yniguez may continue to speak Spanish without fear of official retribution." 730 F. Supp., at 312. Governor Mofford therefore reiterated that Yniguez faced no actual or threatened injury attributable to any Arizona executive branch officer, and hence presented no genuine case or controversy. See ibid. But the District Court singled out the stipulations that "Governor Mofford intends to comply with Article XXVIII," and "expects State service employees to comply with Article XXVIII." Record, Doc. No. 62, ¶¶ 35, 36; see 730 F. Supp., at 312. If Yniguez proved right and the Governor wrong about the breadth of Article XXVIII, the District Court concluded, then Yniguez would be vulnerable to the Governor's pledge to enforce compliance with the Article. See ibid.
Proceeding to the merits, the District Court found Article XXVIII fatally overbroad. The measure, as the District Court read it, was not merely a direction that all official acts be in English, as the Attorney General's opinion maintained; instead, according to the District Court, Article XXVIII imposed a sweeping ban on the use of any language other than English by all of Arizona officialdom, with only limited exceptions. Id., at 314. The District Court adverted to the Attorney General's confining construction, but found it unpersuasive. Opinion No. 189-009, the District Court observed, is "merely . . . advisory," not binding on any
The view that Article XXVIII's text left no room for a moderate and restrained interpretation led the District Court to decline "to allow the Arizona courts the initial opportunity to determine the scope of Article XXVIII." Id., at 316. The District Court ultimately dismissed all parties save Yniguez and Governor Mofford in her official capacity, then declared Article XXVIII unconstitutional as violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but denied Yniguez's request for an injunction because "she ha[d] not established an enforcement threat sufficient to warrant [such] relief." Id., at 316-317.
Postjudgment motions followed, sparked by Governor Mofford's announcement that she would not pursue an appeal. See App. 98. The Attorney General renewed his request to certify the pivotal state-law question—the correct construction of Article XXVIII—to the Arizona Supreme Court. See Record, Doc. No. 82. He also moved to intervene on behalf of the State, pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 2403(b),
Yniguez expressed reservations about proceeding further. "She ha[d] won [her] suit against her employer" and had "obtained her relief," her counsel noted. Record, Doc. No. 114, p. 18 (Tr. of Proceeding on Motion to Intervene and Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment, Mar. 26, 1990). If the litigation "goes forward," Yniguez's counsel told the District Court, "I guess we do, too," but, counsel added, it might be in Yniguez's "best interest . . . if we stopped it right here." Ibid. The District Court agreed.
In an opinion filed April 3, 1990, the District Court denied all three postjudgment motions. Yniguez v. Mofford, 130 F. R. D. 410. Certification was inappropriate, the District Court ruled, in light of the court's prior rejection of the Attorney General's narrow reading of Article XXVIII. See id. , at 412. As to the Attorney General's intervention application, the District Court observed that § 2403(b) addresses only actions "`to which the State or any agency, officer, or employee thereof is not a party.' " See id., at 413 (quoting § 2403(b)). Yniguez's action did not fit the § 2403(b) description,
Turning to the AOE/Park intervention motion, the District Court observed first that the movants had failed to file a pleading "setting forth the[ir] claim or defense," as required by Rule 24(c). Ibid. But that deficiency was not critical, the District Court said. Ibid. The insurmountable hurdle was Article III standing. The labor and resources AOE spent to promote the ballot initiative did not suffice to establish standing to sue or defend in a federal tribunal, the District Court held. Id., at 414-415. Nor did Park or any other AOE member qualify for party status, the District Court ruled, for the interests of voters who favored the initiative were too general to meet traditional standing criteria. Id. , at 415.
In addition, the District Court was satisfied that AOE and Park could not tenably assert practical impairment of their interests stemming from the precedential force of the decision. As nonparticipants in the federal litigation, they would face no issue preclusion. And a lower federal-court judgment is not binding on state courts, the District Court noted. Thus, AOE and Park would not be precluded by the federal declaration from pursuing "any future state court proceeding [based on] Article XXVIII." Id. , at 415-416.
The Ninth Circuit viewed the matter of standing to appeal differently. In an opinion released July 19, 1991, Yniguez v. Arizona, 939 F.2d 727, the Court of Appeals reached these
Concerning AOE's standing, the Court of Appeals reasoned that the Arizona Legislature would have standing to defend the constitutionality of a state statute; by analogy, the Ninth Circuit maintained, AOE, as principal sponsor of the ballot initiative, qualified to defend Article XXVIII on appeal. Id., at 732-733; see also id. , at 734, n. 5 ("[W]e hold that AOE has standing in the same way that a legislature might."). AOE Chairman Park also had standing to appeal, according to the Ninth Circuit, because Yniguez "could have had a reasonable expectation that Park (and possibly AOE as well) would bring an enforcement action against her" under § 4 of Article XXVIII, which authorizes any person residing in Arizona to sue in state court to enforce the Article. Id. , at 734, and n. 5.
Prior to the Ninth Circuit's July 1991 opinion, indeed the very day after AOE, Park, and the Arizona Attorney General filed their notices of appeal, a development of prime importance occurred. On April 10, 1990, Yniguez resigned from state employment in order to accept another job. Her resignation
One year later, on September 16, 1992, the Ninth Circuit rejected the mootness suggestion. Yniguez v. Arizona, 975 F.2d 646. The court's ruling adopted in large part Yniguez's argument opposing a mootness disposition. See App. 194-204 (Appellee Yniguez's Response Regarding Mootness Considerations). "[T]he plaintiff may no longer be affected by the English only provision," the Court of Appeals acknowledged. 975 F. 2d, at 647. Nevertheless, the court continued, "[her] constitutional claims may entitle her to an award of nominal damages." Ibid. Her complaint did "not expressly request nominal damages," the Ninth Circuit noted, but "it did request `all other relief that the Court deems just and proper under the circumstances.' " Id. , at 647, n. 1; see supra, at 50-51. Thus, the Court of Appeals reasoned, one could regard the District Court's judgment as including an "implicit denial" of nominal damages. 975 F. 2d, at 647, n. 2.
To permit Yniguez and AOE to clarify their positions, the Ninth Circuit determined to return the case to the District Court. There, with the Ninth Circuit's permission, AOE's Chairman Park could file a notice of appeal from the District Court's judgment, following up the Circuit's decision 14 months earlier allowing AOE and Park to intervene. Id. , at 647.
In line with the Ninth Circuit's instructions, the case file was returned to the District Court on November 5, 1992; AOE and Park filed their second notice of appeal on December 3, App. 206-208, and Yniguez cross-appealed on December 15, App. 209.
In December 1994, the Ninth Circuit panel that had superintended the case since 1990 affirmed the judgment declaring Article XXVIII unconstitutional and remanded the case, directing the District Court to award Yniguez nominal damages.
Adopting the District Court's construction of Article XXVIII, the en banc court read the provision to prohibit
Because the court found the "plain language" dispositive, 69 F. 3d, at 929, it rejected the State Attorney General's limiting construction and declined to certify the matter to the Arizona Supreme Court, id., at 929-931. As an additional reason for its refusal to grant the Attorney General's request for certification, the en banc court stated: "The Attorney General . . . never conceded that [Article XXVIII] would be unconstitutional if construed as Yniguez asserts it properly should be." Id., at 931, and n. 14.
After construing Article XXVIII as sweeping in scope, the en banc Court of Appeals condemned the provision as manifestly overbroad, trenching untenably on speech rights of Arizona officials and public employees. See id., at 931-948. For prevailing in the § 1983 action, the court ultimately announced, Yniguez was "entitled to nominal damages." Id., at 949. On remand, the District Court followed the en banc Court of Appeals' order and, on November 3, 1995, awarded Yniguez $1 in damages. App. 211.
AOE and Park petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari to the Ninth Circuit.
Article III, § 2, of the Constitution confines federal courts to the decision of "Cases" or "Controversies." Standing to sue or defend is an aspect of the case-or-controversy requirement. Northeastern Fla. Chapter, Associated Gen. Contractors of America v. Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 663-664 (1993) (standing to sue); Diamond v.Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 56 (1986) (standing to defend on appeal). To qualify as a party with standing to litigate, a person must show, first and foremost, "an invasion of a legally protected interest" that is "concrete and particularized" and "`actual or imminent.' " Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992) (quoting Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 155 (1990)). An interest shared generally with the public at large in the proper application of the Constitution and laws will not do. See Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S., at 573-576. Standing to defend on appeal in the place of an original defendant, no less than standing to sue, demands that the litigant possess "a direct stake in the outcome." Diamond, 476 U. S., at 62 (quoting Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 740 (1972) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
The standing Article III requires must be met by persons seeking appellate review, just as it must be met by persons appearing in courts of first instance. Diamond, 476 U. S., at 62. The decision to seek review "is not to be placed in the
In granting the petition for a writ of certiorari in this case, we called for briefing on the question whether AOE and Park have standing, consonant with Article III of the Federal Constitution, to defend in federal court the constitutionality of Arizona Constitution Article XXVIII. Petitioners argue primarily that, as initiative proponents, they have a quasilegislative interest in defending the constitutionality of the measure they successfully sponsored. AOE and Park stress the funds and effort they expended to achieve adoption of Article XXVIII. We have recognized that state legislators have standing to contest a decision holding a state statute unconstitutional if state law authorizes legislators to represent the State's interests. See Karcher v. May, 484 U.S. 72, 82 (1987).
AOE also asserts representational or associational standing. An association has standing to sue or defend in such
We thus have grave doubts whether AOE and Park have standing under Article III to pursue appellate review. Nevertheless, we need not definitively resolve the issue. Rather, we will follow a path we have taken before and inquire, as a primary matter, whether originating plaintiff Yniguez still has a case to pursue. See Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361, 363, 364, n. (1987) (leaving unresolved question of congressional standing because Court determined case was moot). For purposes of that inquiry, we will assume, arguendo, that AOE and Park had standing to place this case before an appellate tribunal. See id. , at 366 (Stevens, J., dissenting) (Court properly assumed standing, even though that matter raised a serious question, in order to analyze mootness issue). We may resolve the question whether
To qualify as a case fit for federal-court adjudication, "an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed." Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 401 (1975) (quoting Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 459, n. 10 (1974)) (internal quotation marks omitted). As a state employee subject to Article XXVIII, Yniguez had a viable claim at the outset of the litigation in late 1988. We need not consider whether her case lost vitality in January 1989 when the Attorney General released Opinion No. I89-009. That opinion construed Article XXVIII to require the expression of "official acts" in English, but to leave government employees free to use other languages "if reasonably necessary to the fair and effective delivery of services" to the public. See App. 71, 74; supra, at 52-53, 54; see also Marston's Inc. v. Roman Catholic Church of Phoenix, 132 Ariz. 90, 94, 644 P.2d 244, 248 (1982) ("Attorney General opinions are advisory only and are not binding on the court. . . . This does not mean, however, that citizens may not rely in good faith on Attorney General opinions until the courts have spoken."). Yniguez left her state job in April 1990 to take up employment in the private sector, where her speech was not governed by Article XXVIII. At that point, it became plain that she lacked a still vital claim for prospective relief. Cf. Boyle v. Landry, 401 U.S. 77, 78, 80-81 (1971) (prospective relief denied where plaintiffs failed to show challenged measures adversely affected any plaintiff's primary conduct).
Yniguez's complaint rested on 42 U. S. C. § 1983. See supra, at 49-50, and n. 3. Although Governor Mofford in her official capacity was the sole defendant against whom the
Furthermore, under the Ninth Circuit's ruling on intervention, the State of Arizona was permitted to participate in the appeal, but not as a party. 939 F. 3d, at 738-740. The Court of Appeals never revised that ruling. To recapitulate,
True, Yniguez and the Attorney General took the steps the Ninth Circuit prescribed: Yniguez filed a cross-appeal notice, see supra, at 61; the Attorney General waived the State's right to assert the Eleventh Amendment as a defense to an award of nominal damages, see 69 F. 3d, at 948-949. But the earlier, emphatic Court of Appeals ruling remained in place: The State's intervention, although proper under § 2403(b), the Ninth Circuit maintained, gave Arizona no status as a party in the lawsuit. See 939 F. 2d, at 738-740.
When a civil case becomes moot pending appellate adjudication, "[t]he established practice . . . in the federal system. . . is to reverse or vacate the judgment below and remand with a direction to dismiss." United States v.Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36, 39 (1950). Vacatur "clears the path for future relitigation" by eliminating a judgment the loser was stopped from opposing on direct review. Id., at 40. Vacatur is in order when mootness occurs through happenstance—circumstances not attributable to the parties—or,
As just explained, Yniguez's changed circumstances—her resignation from public sector employment to pursue work in the private sector—mooted the case stated in her complaint.
Concerning the Ninth Circuit's judgment, Yniguez argues that the State's Attorney General effectively acquiesced in that court's dispositions when he did not petition for this Court's review. See id., at 24-25; Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 10-11, and n. 4 (citing Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54 (1986)).
See also Iron Arrow Honor Soc. v. Heckler, 464 U.S. 67, 72-73 (1983) (per curiam) (vacating judgment below where Court of Appeals had ruled on the merits although case had become moot). In short, we have authority to "make such disposition of the whole case as justice may require." U. S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. , 513 U. S., at 21 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Because the Ninth Circuit refused to stop the adjudication when Yniguez's departure from public employment came to its attention, we set aside the unwarranted en banc Court of Appeals judgment.
But AOE and Park had an arguable basis for seeking appellate review, and the Attorney General promptly made known his independent interest in defending Article XXVIII against the total demolition declared by the District Court. First, the Attorney General repeated his plea for certification of Article XXVIII to the Arizona Supreme Court. See Record, Doc. No. 82. And if that plea failed, he asked, in his motion to intervene, "to be joined as a defendant so that he may participate in all post-judgment proceedings." Record, Doc. No. 93, p. 2. Although denied party status, the Attorney General had, at a minimum, a right secured by Congress, a right to present argument on appeal "on the question of constitutionality." See 28 U. S. C. § 2403(b). He was in the process of pursuing that right when the mooting event occurred.
We have already recounted the course of proceedings thereafter. First, Yniguez did not tell the Court of Appeals that she had left the State's employ. See supra, at 68, n. 23. When that fact was disclosed to the court by the Attorney General, a dismissal for mootness was suggested, and rejected. A mootness disposition at that point was in order, we have just explained. Such a dismissal would have stopped in midstream the Attorney General's endeavor, premised on § 2403(b), to defend the State's law against a declaration of unconstitutionality, and so would have warranted a path-clearing vacatur decree.
The State urges that its current plea for vacatur is compelling in view of the extraordinary course of this litigation.
In litigation generally, and in constitutional litigation most prominently, courts in the United States characteristically pause to ask: Is this conflict really necessary?
Arizona's Attorney General, in addition to releasing his own opinion on the meaning of Article XXVIII, see supra, at 52, asked both the District Court and the Court of Appeals to pause before proceeding to judgment; specifically, he asked both federal courts to seek, through the State's certification process, an authoritative construction of the new measure from the Arizona Supreme Court. See supra, at 51, and n. 5, 55, 62-63, and nn. 17, 18.
Certification today covers territory once dominated by a deferral device called "Pullman abstention," after the generative
Certification procedure, in contrast, allows a federal court faced with a novel state-law question to put the question directly to the State's highest court, reducing the delay, cutting the cost, and increasing the assurance of gaining an authoritative response. See Note, Federal Courts—Certification Before Facial Invalidation: A Return to Federalism, 12 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 217 (1990). Most States have adopted certification procedures. See generally 17A Wright, Miller, & Cooper, supra, § 4248. Arizona's statute, set out supra, at 51, n. 5, permits the State's highest court to consider questions certified to it by federal district courts, as well as courts of appeals and this Court.
Both lower federal courts in this case refused to invite the aid of the Arizona Supreme Court because they found the language of Article XXVIII "plain," and the Attorney General's limiting construction unpersuasive. See 730 F. Supp., at 315-316; 69 F. 3d, at 928-931.
A more cautious approach was in order. Through certification of novel or unsettled questions of state law for authoritative answers by a State's highest court, a federal court may save "time, energy, and resources and hel[p] build a cooperative judicial federalism." Lehman Brothers v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386, 391 (1974); see also Bellotti v. Baird, 428 U.S. 132, 148 (1976) (to warrant district court certification, "[i]t is sufficient that the statute is susceptible of . . . an interpretation [that] would avoid or substantially modify the federal constitutional challenge to the statute"). It is true, as the Ninth Circuit observed, 69 F. 3d, at 930, that in our decision certifying questions in Virginia v. American Booksellers Assn., Inc., 484 U.S. 383 (1988), we noted the State's concession that the statute there challenged would be unconstitutional if construed as plaintiffs contended it should be, id., at 393-396. But neither in that case nor in any other did we declare such a concession a condition precedent to certification.
The District Court and the Court of Appeals ruled out certification primarily because they believed Article XXVIII was not fairly subject to a limiting construction. See 730 F. Supp., at 316 (citing Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 467 (1987)); 69 F. 3d, at 930. The assurance with which the lower courts reached that judgment is all the more puzzling
At oral argument on December 4, 1996, counsel for petitioners AOE and Park informed the Court that, in petitioners' view, the Attorney General's reading of the Article was "the correct interpretation." Tr. of Oral Arg. 6; see id., at 5 (in response to the Court's inquiry, counsel for petitioners stated: "[W]e agree with the Attorney General's opinion as to [the] construction of Article XXVIII on [constitutional] grounds."). The Ninth Circuit found AOE's "explanations as to the initiative's scope . . . confused and selfcontradictory," 69 F. 3d, at 928, n. 12, and we agree that AOE wavered in its statements of position, see, e. g., Brief for Petitioners 15 (AOE may "protect its political and statutory rights against the State and government employees"), 32-39 (Article XXVIII regulates Yniguez's "language on the job"), 44 ("AOE might . . . sue the State for limiting Art. XXVIII"). Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals understood that the ballot initiative proponents themselves at least "partially endorsed the Attorney General's reading." 69 F. 3d, at 928, n. 12. Given the novelty of the question and its potential importance to the conduct of Arizona's business, plus the views of the Attorney General and those of Article XXVIII's sponsors, the certification requests merited more respectful consideration than they received in the proceedings below.
Federal courts, when confronting a challenge to the constitutionality of a federal statute, follow a "cardinal principle": They "will first ascertain whether a construction . . . is fairly possible" that will contain the statute within constitutional bounds. See Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288, 348 (1936) (Brandeis, J., concurring); Ellis v. Railway Clerks, 466 U.S. 435, 444 (1984); Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 692-693 (1979); Rescue Army, 331 U. S., at 568-569. State courts, when interpreting state statutes, are similarly equipped to apply that cardinal principle. See Knoell v. Cerkvenik-
Warnings against premature adjudication of constitutional questions bear heightened attention when a federal court is asked to invalidate a State's law, for the federal tribunal risks friction-generating error when it endeavors to construe a novel state Act not yet reviewed by the State's highest court. See Rescue Army, 331 U. S., at 573-574. "Speculation by a federal court about the meaning of a state statute in the absence of prior state court adjudication is particularly gratuitous when . . . the state courts stand willing to address questions of state law on certification from a federal court." Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, Inc. , 472 U.S. 491, 510 (1985) (O'Connor, J., concurring).
Blending abstention with certification, the Ninth Circuit found "no unique circumstances in this case militating in favor of certification." 69 F. 3d, at 931. Novel, unsettled questions of state law, however, not "unique circumstances," are necessary before federal courts may avail themselves of state certification procedures.
The course of Yniguez's case was complex. The complexity might have been avoided had the District Court, more than eight years ago, accepted the certification suggestion made by Arizona's Attorney General. The Arizona Supreme Court was not asked by the District Court or the Court of Appeals to say what Article XXVIII means. But the State's highest court has that very question before it in
* * *
For the reasons stated, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the case is remanded to that court with directions that the action be dismissed by the District Court.
It is so ordered.
APPENDIX TO OPINION OF THE COURT ARTICLE XXVIII. ENGLISH AS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
§ 1. English as the official language; applicability
Section 1. (1) The English language is the official language of the State of Arizona.
(2) As the official language of this State, the English language is the language of the ballot, the public schools and all government functions and actions.
(ii) all political subdivisions, departments, agencies, organizations, and instrumentalities of this State, including local governments and municipalities,
(iii) all statutes, ordinances, rules, orders, programs and policies[,]
(iv) all government officials and employees during the performance of government business.
Section 2. This State and all political subdivisions of this State shall take all reasonable steps to preserve, protect and enhance the role of the English language as the official language of the State of Arizona. § 3. Prohibiting this state from using or requiring the use of languages other than English; exceptions
Section 3. (1) Except as provided in Subsection (2):
(a) This State and all political subdivisions of this State shall act in English and in no other language.
(b) No entity to which this Article applies shall make or enforce a law, order, decree or policy which requires the use of a language other than English.
(c) No governmental document shall be valid, effective or enforceable unless it is in the English language.
(2) This State and all political subdivisions of this State may act in a language other than English under any of the following circumstances:
(a) to assist students who are not proficient in the English language, to the extent necessary to comply with federal law, by giving educational instruction in a language other than English to provide as rapid as possible a transition to English.
(b) to comply with other federal laws.
(c) to teach a student a foreign language as a part of a required or voluntary educational curriculum.
(d) to protect public health or safety.
(e) to protect the rights of criminal defendants or victims of crime.
Section 4. A person who resides in or does business in this State shall have standing to bring suit to enforce this Article in a court of record of the State. The Legislature may enact reasonable limitations on the time and manner of bringing suit under this subsection.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the State of New Mexico by Tom Udall, Attorney General, Manuel Tijerina, Deputy Attorney General, and Gerald T. E. Gonzalez, Tannis L. Fox, Laura Fashing, Elizabeth A. Glenn, and William S. Keller, Assistant Attorneys General; for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Edward M. Chen, Steven R. Shapiro, Marjorie Heins, and Robert L. Rusky; for the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission et al. by John H. Ishihara, Carl C. Christensen, and Eric K. Yamamoto; for Human Rights Watch by Allan Blumstein and Kenneth Roth; for the Linguistic Society of America et al. by Peter M. Tiersma; for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund by E. Richard Larson; for the National Council of La Raza et al. by Joseph N. Onek, William D. Wallace, and Javier M. Guzman; for the Navajo Nation by Thomas W. Christie; for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund et al. by Kenneth Kimerling, Karen K. Narasaki, and Richard Albores; and for Representative Nydia M. Velazquez et al. by Walter A. Smith, Jr., and Audrey J. Anderson.
Acting Solicitor General Dellinger, Assistant Attorney General Hunger, Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler, Deputy Assistant Attorney Gen- eral Preston, Irving L. Gornstein, and Anthony J. Steinmeyer filed a brief for the United States as amicus curiae.
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . .. ,subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
"All official documents that are governmental acts must be in English, but translation services and accommodating communications are permissible, and may be required if reasonably necessary to the fair and effective delivery of services, or required by specific federal regulation. Communications between elected and other governmental employees with the public at large may be in a language other than English on the same principles." App. 74.
"In any action, suit,orproceeding in a court of the United States to which a State or any agency,officer, or employee thereof is not a party, wherein the constitutionality of any statute of that State affecting the public interest is drawn in question, the court shall certify such fact to the attorney general of the State, and shall permit the State to intervene for presentation of evidence, if evidence is otherwise admissible in the case, and for argument on the question of constitutionality.The State shall, subject to the applicable provisions of law, have all the rights of a party and be subject to all liabilities of a party as to court costs to the extent necessary for a proper presentation of the facts and law relating to the question of constitutionality."