States Rights Are Protected by the 11th Amendment

States Rights Are Protected by the 11th Amendment

( – The 11th Amendment was designed primarily to prevent too much federal interference with the states, but also to prevent the federal courts from being tied up in cases better served by states. It may seem that the text of the amendment makes limitations clear, but they are constantly being challenged.

“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.”

Federal Over State

The Constitution makes it clear that each state has all the powers not already given to the federal government. That means they can make their own laws, as long as those laws don’t infringe upon the natural rights of the people as outlined in the Constitution. If such a thing were to happen, it would be taken to the Supreme Court of the state, not the federal courts.

Lawsuits Against State Actions

The 11th Amendment specifically precludes the federal judicial branch from dealing with any lawsuits from a person in one state against another state. Instead, the states themselves would resolve such cases. However, the 11th Amendment does not prevent citizens in one state from bringing before the federal court a lawsuit against a citizen from another state who violates federal law.

More often what happens is states have their own constitutions, of which no part can go against the federal Constitution. To that end, each state Supreme Court has the task of interpreting the constitution within that state. One example is a recent case against the governor of Michigan. In that case, plaintiffs accused Governor Gretchen Whitmer of illegally using state laws to extend a state of emergency. The governor cited two Acts, and the Michigan Supreme Court decided that her use of power went against the Michigan Constitution.

Foreign Lawsuits

The 11th Amendment also addresses how the courts might deal with lawsuits from those who are not citizens of the United States. The federal courts treat such lawsuits against a state the same as they would from a citizen against the state. The state court in question would hear the suit rather than the federal courts.

One of the most important elements of this amendment is what it doesn’t say. People who fear bias in a state court might not see that same bias in a federal court. Because of this element, when someone feels their rights are violated, they might bring suit against a person in federal court rather than bringing a suit against a state in a state court.

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