Dombrowski Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Dombrowski Doctrine refers to a principle that allowed a person to seek injunction from Federal court for preventing prosecution under a broad or vague state statute which affected the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The doctrine is named after the case Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (U.S. 1965), where in the standard was set. Dombrowski, an officer of the Southern Conference Educational Fund, sought an injunction against the governor of Louisiana, law enforcement officers, and the chairman of the state's Legislative Joint Committee on Un American Activities for prosecuting or threatening to prosecute his organization under several state subversion statutes. Dombrowski alleged that the statutes violated the First Amendment and that he and his civil rights colleagues were subjected to continuous harassment, including arrests without intent to prosecute and seizures of necessary internal documents. The court held that injunctive relief in these circumstances was clearly appropriate as an exception to the general rule against federal court intervention in state criminal prosecutions.