In: English and Literature

Submitted By poopoohead
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Avoidance (or Ashwander) Principles
Justice Brandeis in Ashwander v. TVA, 297 US 288 (1936)
The Court developed, for its own governance in the cases confessedly within its jurisdiction, a series of rules under which it has avoided passing upon a large part of all the constitutional questions pressed upon it for decision. They are:
1. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of legislation in a friendly, nonadversary, proceeding, declining because to decide such questions 'is legitimate only in the last resort, and as a necessity in the determination of real, earnest, and vital controversy between individuals. It never was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative act.' [No advisory opinions. No collusive suits]
*2. The Court will not 'anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it.'
*3. The Court will not 'formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied.'
*4. The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of. This rule has found most varied application. Thus, if a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one involving a constitutional question, the other a question of statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide only the latter. Appeals from the highest court of a state challenging its decision of a question under the Federal Constitution are frequently dismissed because the judgment can be sustained on an independent state ground.
5. The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon complaint of one who fails to show that he is injured by its…...

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