Abstention

A federal court's decision to refrain from deciding a matter over which it has jurisdiction where a state court is capable of hearing and rendering a final determination in the matter. Abstention is designed to promote federal-state relations and provides a vehicle for a federal court to refrain from ruling on constitutional questions even though it has jurisdiction to hear the controversy. It is a rarely-invoked exception because it deprives litigants of their right to have certain types of controversies resolved in a federal court.

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