Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Scott Dodson


The morass of recent Supreme Court state sovereign immunity jurisprudence is closely examined. Rather than attack or defend the Court, the Article attempts to distill the Court's understanding of this complicated doctrine to an applicable rule. Where does state sovereign immunity end and abrogation begin? Immunity, after all, is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. The Court's understanding of state sovereign immunity jurisprudence is discussed in depth and the Article demonstrates that state sovereign immunity remains inviolate throughout Article I of the Constitution and that state sovereign immunity cannot be overridden by the original Constitution. Professor Dodson argues instead that certain Amendments to the Constitution, even those ratified before the Eleventh Amendment, may provide the government with some abrogation authority, albeit through the Fourteenth Amendment. Professor Dodson thus concludes that state sovereign immunity is not a clause-bound inquiry; rather, it is an Amendment-driven inquiry.