The first Constitutional amendment after the adoption of the Bill of Rights was the Eleventh Amendment.
This amendment followed the Supreme Court ruling in Chisholm v. Georgia in 1793.
The ruling of Chisholm v. Georgia found that federal courts had the authority to hear cases in law and equity brought by private citizens against states and that states did not enjoy sovereign immunity from law suits made by citizens of other states in federal court.
Thus, the Eleventh Amendment was written to clarify Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which gave diversity jurisdiction to the judiciary to hear cases “between a state and citizens of another state.”
Eleventh Amendment (Amendment XI)
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.
The Eleventh Amendment was passed by Congress on March 4, 1794 and sent to the states for ratification.
New York was the first state to ratify the amendment on March 27, 1794.
Then Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, and Maryland all ratified the amendment in 1794.
On January 23, 1795, Delaware ratified the Eleventh Amendment leaving only one more state to reach the 2/3 majority necessary for the amendment itself to be ratified.
Then on February 7, 1795, North Carolina ratified the amendment, thus officially adding the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution.
Later in 1798, in Hollingsworth v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court held that every pending action brought under Chisholm v. Georgia had to be dismissed because of the Eleventh Amendment’s adoption.
Ironically, the Eleventh Amendment’s text does not mention suits brought against a state by its own citizens.
However, in Hans v. Louisiana (1890), the Supreme Court ruled that the Eleventh Amendment reflects a broader principle of sovereign immunity.
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