Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2001

Abstract

In recent years, the Supreme Court has substantially expanded the scope of state sovereign immunity. These decisions provide an important occasion for a reconsideration of the entire doctrine of sovereign immunity. This article argues that sovereign immunity is an anachronistic concept, derived from long discredited royal prerogatives, and that it is inconsistent with basic principles of the American legal system. Sovereign immunity is justified neither by history nor, more importantly, by functional considerations. Sovereign immunity is inconsistent with fundamental constitutional requirements such as the supremacy of the Constitution and due process of law. This article concludes that sovereign immunity, for government at all levels, should be eliminated by the Supreme Court.

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