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An Overview of the 11th Amendment

An Overview of the 11th Amendment

Eleventh Amendment: State’s Sovereign Immunity

What is the Eleventh Amendment?

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

The Eleventh Amendment Defined:

The Eleventh Amendment is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which follows the Bill of Rights.

The Eleventh Amendment was adopted following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Chisholm v. Georgia in 1793, where the court ruled that the federal judicial system maintains the authority to hear cases in law equity that are brought by private citizens against states and that individual states are not met with sovereign immunity from suits filed by citizens of other states. Through this definition, the court system was given clarity as to the diversity of jurisdiction where a court system would hear cases between a state and a citizen of another state.

Supreme Court Decisions tied into the Eleventh Amendment

In Hans v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court ruled that the Eleventh Amendment reflects a broader principle of sovereign immunity. The Court decision believed that sovereign immunity derives from the original constitution itself and not the script within the Eleventh Amendment. As a result, the court ruled that they could not conclude that the specific Article 1 powers delegated to Congress include the incidental authority to subject the States to private suits as a means of achieving certain objectives within the scope of the enumerated powers.

Eleventh Amendment Proposal and Subsequent Ratification

The Eleventh Amendment was proposed by the United States Congress on March 4, 1794, and was later ratified by the following states on the following days:

New York (March 27, 1794)

Rhode Island (March 31, 1794)

Connecticut (May 8, 1794)

New Hampshire (June 16, 1794)

Massachusetts (June 26, 1794)

Vermont (November 9, 1794)

Virginia (November 18, 1794)

Georgia (November 29, 1794)

Kentucky (December 7, 1794)

Maryland (December 26, 1794)

Delaware (January 23, 1795)

North Carolina (February 7, 1795)

Ratification was later completed on February 7, 1795.

South Carolina agreed to the ratification on December 4, 1797

New Jersey and Pennsylvania did not agree to ratify the amendment.