A Round Up of Recent Sovereign Immunity Cases

A Round Up of Recent Sovereign Immunity Cases

It has been an exciting last couple of months for sovereign immunity. Really, it has just been an exciting couple of months surrounding the Supreme Court in general. Here are some recent cases with sovereign immunity implications (thanks to the wonderful JURIST website for bringing me daily legal news):

Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Companies Assisting the Government with Intelligence-Gathering Immune

“The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website]  unanimously ruled [opinion, PDF] that a law granting immunity from civil suits for telecommunications companies that assist government intelligence agencies is constitutional.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 | Supreme Court prohibits federal inmates from seeking damages from private prison employees

” The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] in Minneci v. Pollard [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] that where state tort law authorizes adequate remedies for individuals harmed by private employees working at a federal facility, and where the private employees have no employment or contractual relationship with the government, no remedy under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics [opinion text] can be applied.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 |Colorado district court upholds tribal sovereign immunity

“The US District Court for District of Colorado [official website] ruled [decision, PDF] on Monday that tribal sovereign immunity [NCAI backgrounder] applies to online money-lending sites. The court ruled that the defendants, members of several Native American tribes, did not waive all sovereign immunity claims when their online business consented to private suit and could not be held in contempt of court.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012 | Supreme Court rules officers entitled to qualified immunity on defective warrants

“The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled 6-3 [opinion, PDF] inMesserschmidt v. Millender [JURIST report] that police officers continue to have qualified immunity if a search warrant is later found invalid. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, noted that the bar set in United States v. Leon [opinion] is a high standard, where officers cannot be reasonably expected to question a magistrate’s writing of a warrant.”

Saturday, March 03, 2012 | Fifth Circuit rules Army Corps of Engineers liable for Katrina damage

“The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] affirmed [opinion, PDF] that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) [official website] is liable to a number of Louisiana property owners for its inadequate work on a shipping channel that caused billions of dollars in damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive].”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Supreme Court rules on state sovereign immunity under FMLA

“The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled 5-4 [opinion, PDF] inColeman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] on the abrogation of states’ Eleventh Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] sovereign immunity by the self-care leave provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) [DOL backgrounder]…In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court held:

[Lawsuits] against States under this provision are barred by the States’ immunity as sovereigns in our federal system. … To abrogate the States’ immunity from suits for damages … Congress must identify a pattern of constitutional violations and tailor a remedy congruent and proportional to the documented violations. It failed to do so when it allowed employees to sue States for violations of the FMLA’s self-care provision.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Supreme Court rules citizens may challenge EPA order

“The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled unanimously[opinion, PDF] in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that landowners can bring a suit directly against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] challenging the agency’s order not to build on residential property that is protected wetlands. This case gives citizens the right, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) [text], to sue the EPA before the agency enforces the order.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 | Supreme Court rules government grand jury witnesses have absolute immunity 

“The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled unanimously [opinion, PDF] in Rehberg v. Paulk [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that government officials have the same immunity for grand jury testimony under a 42 USC § 1983 [text] action as they do for trial testimony.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | Supreme Court rules prisoners may not seek monetary damages for violation of rights 

“The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled [opinion, PDF] 6-2 in Sossamon v. Texas [Cornell LII Backgrounder] that states do not consent to waive their sovereign immunity to private suits for money damages under theReligious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) [42 USC § 2000cc, text].”


Posted on April 9, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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