The Judicial Power of the United States: The Eleventh Amendment in American History

Overview

Although less than fifty words long, the meaning of the seemingly simple Eleventh Amendment has troubled the Supreme Court at crucial points in American history and continues to spur sharp debate in present-day courts. The first amendment adopted after the Bill of Rights, the Eleventh Amendment limits the exercise of U.S. judicial power when American states are sued. Its modern meaning was largely shaped around cases concerning the liability of Southern states to pay their debts during and after Reconstruction; ...

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Overview

Although less than fifty words long, the meaning of the seemingly simple Eleventh Amendment has troubled the Supreme Court at crucial points in American history and continues to spur sharp debate in present-day courts. The first amendment adopted after the Bill of Rights, the Eleventh Amendment limits the exercise of U.S. judicial power when American states are sued. Its modern meaning was largely shaped around cases concerning the liability of Southern states to pay their debts during and after Reconstruction; by shielding states from liability, the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Eleventh Amendment eased the establishment of post-Reconstruction Southern society and left a maddeningly complicated law of federal jurisdiction. Here, Orth reconstructs the fascinating but obscure history of the Eleventh Amendment—the labyrinth of legal doctrine, the economic motives and consequences, the political context, and the legacy of the past—over the last two centuries. Using quotes from Wordsworth, Shaw, Mark Twain, Margaret Mitchell, and other writers to clarify and invigorate his narrative, Orth finally makes accessible an important but complex slice of constitutional history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Very readable...Presents an interesting exploration of the limits of sovereign immunity in a nation under the rule of law, and in so doing it offers an intriguing slice of legal history. With its excellent bibliographic essays, this book is a valuable addition to American studies."—Journal of American History

"A serious study and a worthy contribution to legal history."—Aviam Soifer, Boston University Law School

"Orth has contributed a strikingly new and important revelation about the Compromise of 1877, the end of Reconstruction, and the economic as well as judicial consequences of Reunion."—C. Vann Woodward, Yale University

"[A] lively and fascinating history of the Eleventh Amendment."—Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University

"Illuminating...with Professor Orth's expert guidance, the Eleventh Amendment is revealed as an integral part of our political and social history, and as a dramatic illustration of the nature and limits of judicial power."—David L. Shapiro, Harvard Law School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195040999
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1993
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Table of Contents

I. Introduction 3
II. Ratification of the Eleventh Amendment 12
III. Early Interpretation 30
IV. Reconstruction and American Law 47
V. The Eleventh Amendment and the End of Reconstruction: Louisiana and North Carolina 58
VI. An Exception: Virginia 90
VII. Another Exception: Cities and Counties 110
VIII. From 1890 to 1908 121
IX. After Ex Parte Young: The Eleventh Amendment in the Twentieth Century 136
X. An Epilogue on the Rule of Law and Legal History 153
Notes 161
Bibliographic Essay 185
Table of Cases 209
Table of Constitutions and Statutes 215
Index 221
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