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Zwickler v. Koota

Significance, An Important Reversal, An Additional Reversal, Related Cases




Koota, District Attorney of Kings County

Appellant's Claim

That section 781-b of the New York Penal Code violated the appellant's First Amendment rights.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Emanuel Redfield

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Samuel A. Hirshowitz, First Assistant Attorney General of New York

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William J. Brennan, Jr. (writing for the Court), Abe Fortas, Thurgood Marshall, William O. Douglas, Potter Stewart, Earl Warren, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

John Marshall Harlan II


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

5 December 1967


Reversal of the district court's decision to abstain from hearing the case.


The ruling in this case established that the doctrine of abstention could only be applied in certain cases where special circumstances existed. It became a landmark case in establishing jurisdictional issues between the state and federal systems.

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
  • Freedom Forum Online. http://www.freedomforum.org/first/welcome.asp

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972