Attorney General Paxton joined a multistate cert-stage amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court to defend states’ sovereign immunity, which, among other protections, generally prevents individual states from being sued in the courts of other states.
The principle of sovereign immunity has long been integral to the United States’ system of government, but a North Carolina Supreme Court decision could substantially undermine it. The North Carolina Supreme Court held that Troy University, which is an entity of the State of Alabama, waived its sovereign immunity when doing business in North Carolina under the State’s Nonprofit Corporation Act. The North Carolina court decided this despite an Alabama law that makes clear the University cannot waive sovereign immunity.
The decision could have profound implications beyond this case by calling into question whether all states may waive their sovereign immunity merely by locating some operations in states outside their borders. The Alabama-led amicus brief requests that the Court review the North Carolina Supreme Court’s misguided decision.
The amicus brief states: “Interstate sovereign immunity is an essential part of those out-of-state operations as well as our nation’s constitutional design. Immunity ensures equal dignity between the States by preventing state courts from exercising jurisdiction over a separate sovereign without that State’s express consent. And clear rules governing when immunity applies or is waived are critical to any State’s ability to operate throughout the nation as one of the several United States. This Court has thus repeatedly held that States do not waive their sovereign immunity unless they do so unequivocally.”
To read the full amicus brief, click here.