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Eleventh Amendment

Eleventh Amendment

The Eleventh Amendment was the first to revise the
Constitution after the ratification of the first ten in the Bill of Rights. The
Eleventh Amendment was passed by Congress on March 4th, 1794, and ratified by
a 3/4 State
majority on February 7, 1795–New Jersey and Pennsylvania being the only two
states not to ratify the Eleventh Amendment.

The Eleventh Amendment states, “The Judicial power
of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or
equity, commenced or prosecuted against on of the United States by Citizens of
another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”  In
other words, the
Federal courts are limited and restricted from
hearing lawsuits against any
State’s government that are brought by
citizens of another
State or foreign country. An example of this
would the
State of
New York enacting the Eleventh Amendment to protect itself from being sued in a
court by people living in the
State, as well as residents of other states,
or a foreign country.

The Eleventh Amendment resulted due to Chisholm v. Georgia, in which Alexander
Chisholm sued the
State of Georgia for a debt that was owed to a
Captain Robert Farquhar. Farquhar was a merchant in South Carolina that sold
supplies to the
State of Georgia on credit. After the war,
Georgia decided that it would not pay its debt on the basis that Farquhar was
allegedly a British loyalist. Farquhar left Chisolm as the executor of his
estate upon his death, which enabled him to bring suit against Georgia.

 The lawsuit was
heard by the Supreme Court and rendered a decision in Chisolm’s favor. The
verdict would be the subject of much controversy and disapproval by the many
states, most obviously and notably, the
State of
Georgia. The resentment was s
uch that the State of
Georgia passed a law stating that anyone that would adhere to the verdict given
in the
 Chisholm case would
be liable to hanging.

 The Eleventh
Amendment was drafted and proposed, and quickly ratified into law, which
reversed the original decision by the Supreme Court judicial branch. The
protection of the
State from being sued in a Federal
court became known as sovereign immunity. Originally, the Eleventh Amendment
only barred citizens of other states suing a
State in a
judicial branch jurisdiction, but it was extended to include residents of the
State as
well through the
 Hans v. Louisiana case.

Even though sovereign immunity is granted by the
Eleventh Amendment, there are four exceptions in which the Supreme Court and
judicial branch may hear a lawsuit levied against a
State. The
Eleventh Amendment does not protect a
political subdivisions, such as counties, cities, or municipalities, and are
all liable to be sued in a
Federal judicial branch jurisdiction. Also,
under the Eleventh Amendment, states have the right to waive their sovereign
immunity and allow
themselves to be sued in a Federal

In certain cases, Congress allows for a State to be
sued and heard in a
Federal court under the Due Process Clause of
 Fourteenth Amendment. The last
exception relates to the citizens seeking injunction against State officials in
a Federal court, if under violation of a Federal law. The litigation remedy applies
strictly to only injunctive relief, but not monetary damages that would be
furnished by the State’s Treasury Department.