Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 23 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

doctrine, as with other abstention doctrines, see supra, at 716-723 (describing the traditional application of the abstention doctrines), derives from the discretion historically enjoyed by courts of equity. They further demonstrate that exercise of this discretion must reflect "principles of federalism and comity." Growe v. Emison, 507 U. S. 25, 32 (1993). Ultimately, what is at stake is a federal court's decision, based on a careful consideration of the federal interests in retaining jurisdiction over the dispute and the competing concern for the "independence of state action," Burford, 319 U. S., at 334, that the State's interests are paramount and that a dispute would best be adjudicated in a state forum. See NOPSI, supra, at 363 (question under Burford is whether adjudication in federal court would "unduly intrude into the processes of state government or undermine the State's ability to maintain desired uniformity"). This equitable decision balances the strong federal interest in having certain classes of cases, and certain federal rights, adjudicated in federal court, against the State's interests in maintaining "uniformity in the treatment of an 'essentially local problem,' " 491 U. S., at 362 (quoting Alabama Pub. Serv. Comm'n, supra, at 347), and retaining local control over "difficult questions of state law bearing on policy problems of substantial public import," Colorado River, 424 U. S., at 814. This balance only rarely favors abstention, and the power to dismiss recognized in Burford represents an " 'extraordinary and narrow exception to the duty of the District Court to adjudicate a controversy properly before it.' " Colorado River, supra, at 813 (quoting County of Allegheny, 360 U. S., at 188).


We turn, finally, to the application of Burford in this case. As in NOPSI, see 491 U. S., at 363, the federal interests in this case are pronounced, as Allstate's motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) implicates a substantial federal concern for the enforcement of arbitra-

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