A Guide to the Eleventh Amendment
The Eleventh Amendment, or Amendment XI of the United States Constitution is an Amendment that talks about the sovereign immunity. The Eleventh Amendment was the first Amendment to the United States Constitution after the Bill of Rights. It was put into the Constitution on February 7, 1795.
Text of the Eleventh Amendment
The text of the Eleventh Amendment states the following:
“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.”
History of the Eleventh Amendment
The Eleventh Amendment was put into the after the ruling in the 1793 Supreme Court case Chisholm v. Georgia. In this case, the Supreme Court said that federal courts had the power hear legal cases that were started by citizens against the states and that the states were not immune to these cases. By adding the Eleventh Amendment into the Constitution, courts could now hear cases between a state and people from another state.
The Eleventh amendment does not say anything about lawsuits that are brought to court by a citizen against his or her own state. However, in 1890 the Supreme Court said that the Amendment talked about the principles behind sovereign immunity and that these cases could not be brought forward.
In another Supreme Court Case, the Eleventh Amendment was used to say that law suits against officials who are acting as representatives of a state can be sued in federal courts, but only if the state acts unconstitutionally.
States that Ratified the Eleventh Amendment
The Eleventh amendment was ratified by the following states, allowing it to be included in the Constitution:
• New York on March 27, 1794
• Rhode Island on March 31, 1794
• Connecticut on May 8, 1794
• New Hampshire on June 16, 1794
• Massachusetts on June 26, 1794
• Vermont on November 9, 1794
• Virginia on November 18, 1794
• Georgia on November 29, 1794
• Kentucky on December 7, 1794
• Maryland on December 26, 1794
• Delaware on January 23, 1795
• North Carolina on February 7, 1795
While ratification of the Eleventh Amendment was complete after North Carolina, South Carolina also ratified the Amendment on December 4, 1797. The only two states that did not ratify the amendment were New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Facts about the Eleventh Amendment
• Sovereign immunity is the legal idea that says a state or a sovereign is immune from any criminal prosecution or civil suit and cannot commit any sort of legal wrong.
• The idea of State sovereign immunity is re-affirmed in the Eleventh Amendment.
• Not only does do the states have sovereign immunity, but the federal government also has it as well. This means that unless the federal government waives this immunity or consents to a law suit, the federal government cannot be suited.