Emory Law Journal


The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution embodies the principle of state sovereign immunity, long held to bar suits by private litigants in federal courts or under federal law who seek redress for rights violations at the hands of state governments. But states themselves are not the only prospective defendants shielded by this form of sovereign immunity. As a subset of Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence, the arm-of-the-state doctrine allows government entities closely situated to their respective state governments to partake of the state¿s Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. Unfortunately, this doctrine, both in theory and in application, has been fraught with inconsistency and incoherence since the Supreme Court introduced it in 1977. As a solution, this Comment argues that, rather than the rationales previously offered by the Court, a political accountability rationale ought to guide the arm-of-the-state inquiry. This rationale has been present in the Court¿s sovereign immunity jurisprudence generally but has yet to be substantially incorporated in the arm-of-the-state context.