Edelman v. Jordan/Dissent Brennan

Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinions

Mr. Justice Brennan, dissenting.

This suit is brought by Illinois citizens against Illinois officials. In that circumstance, Illinois may not invoke the Eleventh Amendment, since that Amendment bars only federal court suits against States by citizens of other States. Rather, the question is whether Illinois may avail itself of the nonconstitutional but ancient doctrine of sovereign immunity as a bar to respondent's claim for retroactive AABD payments. In my view Illinois may not assert sovereign immunity for the reason I expressed in dissent in Employees v. Department of Public Health and Welfare, 411 U.S. 279, 298 (1973): the States surrendered that immunity in Hamilton's words, "in the plan of the Convention," that formed the Union, at least insofar as the States granted Congress specifically enumerated powers. See id., at 319 n. 7; Parden v. Terminal R. Co., 377 U.S. 184 (1964). Congressional authority to enact the Social Security Act, of which AABD is a part, former 42 U.S.C. §§1381-1385 (now replaced by similar provisions in 42 U.S.C. §801-804 (1970 ed., Supp. II)), is to be found in Art. I, §8, cl. 1, one of the enumerated powers granted Congress by the States in the Constitution. I remain of the opinion that "because of its surrender, no immunity exists that can be the subject of a congressional declaration or a voluntary waiver," 411 U.S., at 300, and thus have no occasion to inquire whether or not Congress authorized an action for AABD retroactive benefits, or whether or not Illinois voluntarily waived the immunity by its continued participation in the program against the background of precedents which sustained judgments ordering retroactive payments.

I would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.