CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-11TH AMENDMENT-SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY

June 19th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

This case now before us for the third time, requires us to decide whether the Constitution permits a State to be sued by a private party without its consent in the courts of a different State. We hold that it does not and overrule our decision to the contrary in Nevada vs. Hall, 440 U.S. 410 (1979). In 1998, Hyatt sued the Board of Nevada state court for torts he alleged the agency committed during the audit. The sole question presented is whether Neva·da vs. Hall, should be overruled. Nevada vs. Hall, is contrary to our constitutional design and the understanding of sovereign immunity shared by the States that ratified the Constitution. Stare decisis does not compel continued adherence to this erroneous precedent. We therefore overrule Hall and hold that States retain their sovereign immunity from private suits brought in the courts of other States. In short, at the time of the founding, it was well settled that States were immune under both the common law and the law of nations. The Constitutions use of the term States reflects both of these kinds of traditional immunity. And the States retained these aspects of sovereignty, except as altered by the plan of the Convention or certain constitutional Amendments. Consistent with this understanding of state sovereign immunity, this Court has held that the Constitution bars suits against non-consenting States in a wide range of cases. See, e.g., Federal Maritime Commn, supra (actions by private parties before federal administrative agencies); Alden, supra (suits by private parties against a State in its own courts); Blatchford vs. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775 (1991) (suits by Indian tribes in Federal Court); Monaco, 292 U.S. 313 (suits by foreign states in federal court); Ex parte New York, 256 U.S. 490 (1921) (admiralty suit by private parties in federal court); Smith vs. Reeves, 178 U.S. 436 (1900) (suits by federal corporations in federal court). Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. vs. Hyatt, 2019 U.S. LEXIS 3399.