In Alden v. Maine the Supreme Court considered whether Congress, pursuant to its Article I powers, can subject a nonconsenting state to a private suit for damages in the state's own courts. Alternatively viewed, the question was whether a state has sovereign immunity which precludes such suits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Article I of the Constitution does not grant Congress the power to subject a nonconsenting state to a private suit for damages in the state's own courts. The decision represents a direct extension of the federalism developed by the Court in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, and is philosophically consistent with other recent "states fights" cases such as New York v. United States, and Printz v. United States. This note will review the history of state sovereign immunity and congressional power to subject states to lawsuits. Next, this note will examine the holdings and opinions in Alden. Finally, the underlying basis for the Alden decision will be analyzed.
Jeffrey H. Canja,
Alden v. Maine and State Sovereign Immunity Original Intent or an Intent Congenial to the Court's Desires,
48 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol48/iss3/6