Brown v. Gilmore, 533 U.S. 1301, 3 (2001)

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Cite as: 533 U. S. 1301 (2001)

Opinion in Chambers

District Court's dismissal of applicants' complaint, as well as its earlier denial of applicants' motion for injunctive relief. This application to me followed.

I note first that applicants are seeking not merely a stay of a lower court judgment, but an injunction against the enforcement of a presumptively valid state statute. The All Writs Act, 28 U. S. C. 1651(a), is the only source of this Court's authority to issue such an injunction. It is established, and our own rules require, that injunctive relief under the All Writs Act is to be used " 'sparingly and only in the most critical and exigent circumstances.' " Ohio Citizens for Responsible Energy, Inc. v. NRC, 479 U. S. 1312, 1313 (1986) (Scalia, J., in chambers) (quoting Fishman v. Schaffer, 429 U. S. 1325, 1326 (1976) (Marshall, J., in chambers)). Such an injunction is appropriate only if "the legal rights at issue are 'indisputably clear.' " 479 U. S., at 1313 (quoting Communist Party of Ind. v. Whitcomb, 409 U. S. 1235 (1972) (Rehnquist, J., in chambers)).

Whatever else may be said about the issues and equities in this case, the rights of the applicants are not "indisputably clear." The pros and cons of the applicants' claim on the merits are fully set forth in the majority and dissenting opinions in the Court of Appeals. Applicants contend that this case is virtually a replay of Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U. S. 38 (1985), in which we struck down a similar Alabama statute. But the majority opinion in the Court of Appeals took pains to distinguish the present case from Wallace. It noted our statement that the statute at issue there was " 'quite different from [a statute] merely protecting every student's right to engage in voluntary prayer during an appropriate moment of silence during the schoolday.' " Id., at 59, as quoted in 258 F. 3d, at 279. It further found ample evidence that 22.1-203 had a clear secular purpose, namely, to provide a moment for quiet reflection in the wake of high-profile instances of violence in our public schools. Id., at 276-277. This alone may distinguish Wallace, in which Alabama ex-


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