and he brought along the two sets of handcuffs in the event it became necessary to restrain the adulterers.
Regarding the incident in which two police detectives visited and interrogated the plaintiff at his place of employment, it was brought out by the defense that the plaintiff had applied for a gun permit and the two police detectives went to see him concerning his application for a permit to carry a gun.
The two issues presented for determination in this matter are: (1) is there any basis for this Court to enjoin the Philadelphia Police Department, its Commissioner, eight of its police officers, the First Deputy City Solicitor and an Assistant City Solicitor from taking any action which would in any manner interfere with the plaintiff's alleged "marital right" to be with the woman he married?; (2) is there any basis upon which this Court should set aside the divorce decree granted by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County?
As to the first issue the record shows that the plaintiff's wife divorced him and has since remarried. Although there is no credible evidence in this case which would lead the Court to conclude that there was any unconstitutional interference by the defendants with the plaintiff, injunctive relief is denied on the ground that the issue is now clearly moot. At this juncture, no conceivable action by the Philadelphia Police and the individual defendants can be construed as even possibly interfering with a marriage which has been dissolved by a decree of our State court. Furthermore, the plaintiff has not shown that he was deprived of any of his constitutional rights or that there was any interference with one or more of his constitutional rights. This record is likewise devoid of any evidence which could in any manner be interpreted as a threat that his constitutional rights might be violated in the future. The plaintiff, therefore, is not entitled to any injunctive or other relief in connection with this matter.
We will now consider the plaintiff's request that this Court void the divorce decree granted and affirmed by the state court. The plaintiff stated that he wanted this Court to "void" the divorce decree granted his wife by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. This Court has no jurisdiction to sit as an appellate court in review of state court decisions. Any error in state court proceedings must be corrected by the appellate courts of the state and ultimately, where grounds exist, by the United States Supreme Court. Atlantic Coast Lines R.R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 398 U.S. 281, 90 S. Ct. 1739, 26 L. Ed. 2d 234 (1970); Wood v. Conneaut Lake Park, Inc., 386 F.2d 121 (3d Cir. 1967). This being a pro se action, however, and the plaintiff a nonlawyer having represented himself, we interpret his complaint as also requesting this Court to enjoin the Order of the state court granting a divorce to his wife.
We are mindful that the federal anti-injunction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, absolutely prohibits a federal court from staying a state court proceeding unless the matter falls within one of the three prescribed statutory exceptions. The Supreme Court of the United States in Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 92 S. Ct. 2151, 32 L. Ed. 2d 705 (1972), has held that § 1983 is an "expressly authorized" exception to the anti-injunction statute; thus, where a plaintiff has alleged a claim under § 1983, a federal court is not prohibited by the anti-injunction statute from sitting as a court of equity to consider matters alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. However, the principles of equity, comity and federalism must nevertheless be applied whenever a federal court is asked to enjoin any order of a state court. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S. Ct. 746, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669 (1971); Lynch v. Snepp, 472 F.2d 769 (4th Cir. 1973); D'Amico v. Hirsch, Civil Action No. 72-1963 (E.D.Pa. filed Feb. 28, 1973). The principles of equity, comity and federalism announced in Younger v. Harris, supra, as being applicable to state court criminal prosecutions are equally applicable to state civil proceedings. Lynch v. Snepp, supra.
Our own Circuit Court in Conover v. Montemuro, 477 F.2d 1073 (3d Cir. 1973) has provided us with comprehensive interpretations of the special precautions which the federal courts have developed as a self-imposed limitation upon their power to enjoin state court orders. It is now the national policy of the federal courts to refrain from interfering with state court proceedings except in the exceptional cases where it becomes necessary to protect a plaintiff's constitutional rights. In determining whether it is necessary for the federal court to exercise its equitable power to protect a plaintiff's constitutional rights by enjoining a state court proceeding, the federal court must determine whether the plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law and whether he will suffer irreparable injury which is both great and immediate if the federal court fails to act.
It is the plaintiff's contention in this case that his constitutional rights are being violated in that no court has the power to grant a divorce. The plaintiff argues that he has a "God-given" right to be with his wife and to live with her as husband and wife, because of the Biblical proscription "What God has joined together let no man put asunder." The plaintiff contends that a divorce decree is a violation of his "marital rights" and that his "marital rights" are protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Ten Commandments.
As we have stated above, a federal court will refrain from interfering with state court proceedings except in the exceptional situation where it is necessary to protect constitutional rights. This means, of course, that there must be a constitutional right which is in need of protection. We have read the pleadings, and we have heard the evidence, and we are at a loss to determine which, if any, of the plaintiff's constitutional rights have been violated by the power of the state to grant a decree in divorce.
It is within the exclusive jurisdiction of our sovereign states to regulate and control marriage and divorce. See Cleveland v. United States, 146 F.2d 730 (10th Cir. 1945). Concerning the power of our state legislatures to regulate marriage and divorce, the Supreme Court of the United States in Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 8 S. Ct. 723, 31 L. Ed. 654 (1888) said:
Marriage, as creating the most important relation in life, as having more to do with the morals and civilization of a people than any other institution, has always been subject to the control of the legislature. That body prescribes the age at which parties may contract to marry, the procedure or form essential to constitute marriage, the duties and obligations it creates, its effects upon the property rights of both, present and prospective, and the acts which may constitute grounds for its dissolution.
Chief Justice Marshall in the Dartmouth College Case, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518, 4 L. Ed. 629 (1819), in discussing the United States Constitution, stated:
It [the Constitution] never has been understood to restrict the general right of the legislature to legislate on the subject of divorces.