abstention[ab sten′s̸hən, əb-]
1. An example of abstention is when a Congressman chooses not to vote on an issue.2. An example of abstention is refraining from drinking alcohol.
Origin of abstentionClassical Latin abstentio ; from abstinere, abstain
- The act or habit of deliberate self-denial.
- An abstaining vote or voter: 12 ayes, 10 nays, and 8 abstentions.
Origin of abstentionLate Latin abstentiō, abstentiōn-, from abstentus, past participle of Latin abstinēre, to hold back; see abstain.
abstention - Legal Definition
- The act of voluntarily refraining from taking some action, such as casting a vote or participating in a decision or deliberation.
- A federal court’s act of declining to exercise its jurisdiction while awaiting or deferring to a decision by a state court. In doing so, the federal court retains jurisdiction of the legal issues at hand and may decide those issues if the plaintiff is not satisfied with the state court’s decision. See also comity and relinquishment. Several rationales for a federal court’s abstention are named for the United States Supreme Court decision in which the rationale was first applied. These include:
- A federal court’s decision to halt or interfere with a state court’s criminal proceeding unless the prosecution has been brought in bad faith or harassment.
- A federal court’s decision to halt or interfere with a state court proceeding on the grounds that the arguments of the party seeking the federal courts involvement can be raised and fairly determined in the state court. Younger v. Harris (1971).