Justice Kennedy announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts
In the northern region of Idaho, close by the Coeur d'Alene Mountains which are part of Bitterroot Range, lies tranquil Lake Coeur d'Alene. One of the Nation's most beautiful lakes, it is some 24 miles long and 1 to 3 miles wide. The Spokane River originates here and thence flows west, while the lake in turn is fed by other rivers and streams, including Coeur d'Alene River which flows to it from the east, as does the forested Saint Joe River which begins high in the Bitterroots and gathers their waters along its 130-mile journey. To the south of the lake lies the more populated part of the Coeur d'Alene Reservation. Whether the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's ownership extends to the banks and submerged lands of the lake and various of these rivers and streams, or instead ownership is vested in the State of Idaho, is the underlying dispute. We are limited here, however, to the important, preliminary question whether the Eleventh Amendment bars a federal court from hearing the Tribe's claim.
Alleging ownership in the submerged lands and bed of Lake Coeur d'Alene and of the various navigable rivers and streams that form part of its water system, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, a federally recognized Tribe, together with various individual Tribe members, sued in federal court. As there is no relevant distinction between the Tribe and those of its members who have joined the suit, for purposes of the issue we decide, we refer to them all as the Tribe. The Coeur d'Alene Reservation consists of some 13,032 acres of tribal land, 55,583 acres of allotted land, and 330 Government owned acres. Statistical Record of Native North Americans 53 (M. Raddy ed. 1995). The Tribe claimed the beneficial interest, subject to the trusteeship of the United States, in the beds and banks of all navigable watercourses
The suit named the State of Idaho, various state agencies, and numerous state officials in their individual capacities. In addition to its title claims, the Tribe further sought a declaratory judgment to establish its entitlement to the exclusive use and occupancy and the right to quiet enjoyment of the submerged lands as well as a declaration of the invalidity of all Idaho statutes, ordinances, regulations, customs, or usages which purport to regulate, authorize, use, or affect in any way the submerged lands. Finally, it sought a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting defendants from regulating, permitting, or taking any action in violation of the Tribe's rights of exclusive use and occupancy, quiet enjoyment, and other ownership interest in the submerged lands along with an award for costs and attorney's fees and such other relief as the court deemed appropriate.
The defendants moved to dismiss the Tribe's complaint on Eleventh Amendment immunity grounds and for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court held the Eleventh Amendment barred the claims against Idaho and the agencies. It concluded further that the action against the officials for quiet title and declaratory relief was barred by the Eleventh Amendment because these claims were the functional equivalents of a damages award against the State. It dismissed the claim for injunctive relief
The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. 42 F.3d 1244 (1994). Itagreed with the District Court that the Eleventh Amendment barred all claims against the State and its agencies, as well as the quiet title action against the officials. The Court of Appeals found the Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), doctrine applicable and allowed the claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against the officials to proceed insofar as they sought to preclude continuing violations of federal law. The requested declaratory and injunctive relief, the Court of Appeals reasoned, is based upon Idaho's ongoing interference with the Tribe's alleged ownership rights premised on the 1873 Executive Order as later ratified by federal statute. See Act of Mar. 3, 1891, ch. 543, § 19, 26 Stat. 1026-1029. It further found it conceivable that the Tribe could prove facts entitling it to relief. It reversed the District Court's dismissal of the declaratory and injunctive relief claims and ordered the case remanded. It also remanded for consideration of the Tribe's claim for declaratory relief based on aboriginal title. We granted certiorari, 517 U.S. 1132 (1996), to consider whether the suit for declaratory and injunctive relief based on the Tribe's purported beneficial interest in title may proceed, and we now reverse in part.
After issuance of the District Court's opinion the United States filed suit against the State of Idaho on behalf of the Tribe seeking to quiet title to approximately a third of the land covered by this suit. United States v. Idaho, No. 94— 0328 (D. Idaho, filed July 21, 1994). The Government's separate suit is still pending and is not implicated here.
The grant of federal judicial power is cast in terms of its reach or extent. Article III, § 2, of the Constitution provides the "judicial Power shall extend" to the cases it enumerates, including "all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution [and] the Laws of the United States." The Eleventh Amendment, too, employs the term "extend." It provides:
This point of commonality could suggest that the Eleventh Amendment, like the grant of Article III, § 2, jurisdiction, is cast in terms of reach or competence, so the federal courts are altogether disqualified from hearing certain suits brought against a State. This interpretation, however, has been neither our tradition nor the accepted construction of the Amendment's text. Rather, a State can waive its Eleventh Amendment protection and allow a federal court to hear and decide a case commenced or prosecuted against it. The Amendment, in other words, enacts a sovereign immunity from suit, rather than a nonwaivable limit on the Federal Judiciary's subject-matter jurisdiction. The immunity is one the States enjoy save where there has been "`a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the convention.' " Principality of Monaco v. Mississippi, 292 U.S. 313, 322-323 (1934) (quoting The Federalist No. 81).
The Court's recognition of sovereign immunity has not been limited to the suits described in the text of the Eleventh Amendment. To respect the broader concept of immunity, implicit in the Constitution, which we have regarded
In extended criticisms of the Court's recognition that the immunity can extend to suits brought by a State's own citizens and to suits premised on federal questions, some of them as recent as last Term, see id., at 83-93 (Stevens, J., dissenting); id., at 109-110 (Souter, J., dissenting), various dissenting and concurring opinions have urged a change in direction. See, e. g., Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 247 (1985) (Brennan, J., dissenting). Were we to abandon our understanding of the Eleventh Amendment as reflecting a broader principle of sovereign immunity, the Tribe's suit, which is based on its purported federal property rights, might proceed. These criticisms and proposed doctrinal revisions, however, have not found acceptance with a majority of the Court. We adhere to our precedent.
Under well-established principles, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and, a fortiori, its members, are subject to the Eleventh Amendment. In Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775, 779-782 (1991), we rejected the contention that sovereign immunity only restricts suits by individuals against sovereigns, not by sovereigns against sovereigns. Since the plan of the Convention did not surrender Indian tribes' immunity for the benefit of the States, we reasoned that the States likewise did not surrender their immunity for the benefit of the tribes. Indian tribes, we therefore concluded, should be accorded the same status as foreign sovereigns,
The Tribe's suit, accordingly, is barred by Idaho's Eleventh Amendment immunity unless it falls within the exception this Court has recognized for certain suits seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against state officers in their individual capacities. See Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908). The Young exception to sovereign immunity was an important part of our jurisprudence when the Court adhered to its precedents in the face of the criticisms we have mentioned, and when the Court, overruling Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1 (1989), held that Congress, in the exercise of its power to regulate commerce with Indian tribes, may not abrogate state sovereign immunity. Seminole Tribe, supra, at 71, n. 14. We do not, then, question the continuing validity of the Ex parte Young doctrine. Of course, questions will arise as to its proper scope and application. In resolving these questions we must ensure that the doctrine of sovereign immunity remains meaningful, while also giving recognition to the need to prevent violations of federal law.
When suit is commenced against state officials, even if they are named and served as individuals, the State itself will have a continuing interest in the litigation whenever state policies or procedures are at stake. This commonsense observation of the State's real interest when its officers are named as individuals has not escaped notice or comment from this Court, either before or after Young. See, e. g., Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 846-847 (1824) (stating that the State's interest in the suit was so "direct" that "perhaps no decree ought to have been pronounced in the cause, until the State was before the court") (Marshall, C. J.); Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 114, n. 25 (1984) (noting that Young rests on a fictional distinction between the official and the State); see also Florida Dept. of State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc., 458 U.S. 670,
To interpret Young to permit a federal-court action to proceed in every case where prospective declaratory and injunctive relief is sought against an officer, named in his individual capacity, would be to adhere to an empty formalism and to undermine the principle, reaffirmed just last Term in Seminole Tribe, that Eleventh Amendment immunity represents a real limitation on a federal court's federal-question jurisdiction. The real interests served by the Eleventh Amendment are not to be sacrificed to elementary mechanics of captions and pleading. Application of the Young exception must reflect a proper understanding of its role in our federal system and respect for state courts instead of a reflexive reliance on an obvious fiction. See, e. g., Pennhurst, supra, at 102-103, 114, n. 25 (explaining that the limitation in Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651 (1974), of Young to prospective relief represented a refusal to apply the fiction in every conceivable circumstance).
Putting aside the acts of state officials which are plainly ultra vires under state law itself, see Pennhurst, supra, at 101-102, n. 11, there are, in general, two instances where Young has been applied. The first is where there is no state forum available to vindicate federal interests, thereby placing upon Article III courts the special obligation to ensure the supremacy of federal statutory and constitutional law. This is a most important application of the Ex parte Young
As is well known, the ultimate question in Young was whether the State's attorney general could enforce a state ratesetting scheme said by the objecting shareholders of railroad companies to be unconstitutional. The shareholders sought a federal injunction against Attorney General Young, prohibiting enforcement of the rate scheme. Attempting to show the lack of necessity for federal intervention, Young maintained the shareholders could wait until a state enforcement proceeding was brought against the railroads and then test the law's validity by raising constitutional defenses. The Court rejected the argument, first because a single violation might not bring a prompt prosecution; and second because the penalties for violations were so severe a railroad official could not test the law without grave risk of heavy fines and imprisonment. The Court added that a federal suit for injunctive relief would be "undoubtedly the most convenient, the most comprehensive and the most orderly way in which the rights of all parties can be properly, fairly and adequately passed upon." Id., at 166.
Where there is no available state forum the Young rule has special significance. In that instance providing a federal forum for a justiciable controversy is a specific application of the principle that the plan of the Convention contemplates a regime in which federal guarantees are enforceable so long as there is a justiciable controversy. The Federalist No. 80, p. 475 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton) ("[T]here ought always to be a constitutional method of giving efficacy to constitutional provisions"). We, of course, express no opinion as to the circumstances in which the unavailability of injunctive relief in state court would raise constitutional concerns under current doctrine.
With the growth of statutory and complex regulatory schemes, this mode of analysis might have been somewhat obscured. Part of the significance of Young, in this respect, lies in its treatment of a threatened suit by an official to enforce an unconstitutional state law as if it were a commonlaw tort. See 209 U. S., at 158 (treating this possibility as a "specific wrong or trespass"); id., at 167 ("The difference between an actual and direct interference with tangible property and the enjoining of state officers from enforcing an unconstitutional act, is not of a radical nature"). Treatment of a threatened suit to enforce an unconstitutional statute as a tort found support in Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 U.S. 362 (1894), and Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466 (1898). See Currie, Sovereign Immunity and Suits Against Government Officers, 1984 S. Ct. Rev. 149, 154, and n. 35. By employing the common-law injury framework, the Young Court underscored the inadequacy of state procedures for vindicating the constitutional rights at stake. 209 U. S., at 163-166. The enforcement scheme in Young, which raised obstacles to the vindication of constitutional claims, was not unusual. See, e. g., Willcox v. Consolidated Gas Co., 212 U.S. 19, 53-54 (1909) (discussing the "enormous and overwhelming" penalties for violating the challenged statutes); Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Andrews, 216 U.S. 165 (1910) (penalties for each violation of the challenged statute included $1,000 fine); Herndon v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 218 U.S. 135, 151 (1910) (penalties for violating the challenged statute could "in a short time . . . amount to many thousands of dollars"); Oklahoma Operating Co. v. Love, 252 U.S. 331, 336 (1920) (penalties for violations are "such as might well deter even the boldest and most confident"). In many situations, as in the above-cited cases, the exercise of a federal court's equitable jurisdiction was necessary to avoid "excessive and oppressive penalties, [the] possibility of [a]
The reluctance to place much reliance on the availability of a state forum can be understood in part by the prevalence of the idea that if a State consented to suit in a state forum it had consented, by that same act, to suit in a federal forum. See, e. g., Davis v. Gray, 16 Wall. 203, 221 (1873); Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., supra, at 391. Today, by contrast, it is acknowledged that States have real and vital interests in preferring their own forums in suits brought against them, interests that ought not to be disregarded based upon a waiver presumed in law and contrary to fact. See, e. g., Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U. S., at 673. In this case, there is neither warrant nor necessity to adopt the Young device to provide an adequate judicial forum for resolving the dispute between the Tribe and the State. Idaho's courts are open to hear the case, and the State neither has nor claims immunity from their process or their binding judgment.
Even if there is a prompt and effective remedy in a state forum, a second instance in which Young may serve an important interest is when the case calls for the interpretation of federal law. This reasoning, which is described as the interest in having federal rights vindicated in federal courts, can lead to expansive application of the Young exception. See, e. g., Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 68 (1985) (explaining that Young furthers the federal interest in vindicating federal law); Pennhurst, 465 U. S., at 105 ("[T]he Young doctrine has been accepted as necessary to permit the federal courts to vindicate federal rights" (citation omitted)). It is difficult to say States consented to these types of suits in the plan of the Convention. Neither in theory nor in practice has it been shown problematic to have federal claims resolved
In some cases, it is true, the federal courts play an indispensable role in maintaining the structural integrity of the constitutional design. A federal forum assures the peaceful resolution of disputes between the States, South Dakota v. North Carolina, 192 U.S. 286 (1904), and suits initiated by the United States against States, United States v. Texas, 143 U.S. 621 (1892). While we can assume there is a special role for Article III courts in the interpretation and application of federal law in other instances as well, we do not for that reason conclude that state courts are a less than adequate forum for resolving federal questions. A doctrine based on the inherent inadequacy of state forums would run counter to basic principles of federalism. In Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976), we expressed our "emphatic reaffirmation. . . of the constitutional obligation of the state courts to uphold federal law, and [our] expression of confidence in their ability to do so." Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 105 (1980).
Interpretation of federal law is the proprietary concern of state, as well as federal, courts. It is the right and duty of the States, within their own judiciaries, to interpret and to follow the Constitution and all laws enacted pursuant to it, subject to a litigant's right of review in this Court in a proper case. The Constitution and laws of the United States are not a body of law external to the States, acknowledged and enforced simply as a matter of comity. The Constitution is
It is a principal concern of the court system in any State to define and maintain a proper balance between the State's courts on one hand, and its officials and administrative agencies on the other. This is of vital concern to States. As the Idaho State Attorney General has explained: "Everywhere a citizen turns—to apply for a life-sustaining public benefit, to obtain a license, to respond to a complaint—it is [administrative law] that governs the way in which their contact with state government will be carried out." EchoHawk, Introduction to Administrative Procedure Act Issue, 30 Idaho L. Rev. 261 (1994). In the States there is an ongoing process by which state courts and state agencies work to elaborate an administrative law designed to reflect the State's own rules and traditions concerning the respective scope of judicial review and administrative discretion. An important case such as the instant one has features which instruct and enrich the elaboration of administrative law that is one of the primary responsibilities of the state judiciary. Where, as here, the parties invoke federal principles to challenge state administrative action, the courts of the State have a strong interest in integrating those sources of law within their own system for the proper judicial control of state officials.
Our precedents do teach us, nevertheless, that where prospective relief is sought against individual state officers in a
The course of our case law indicates the wisdom and necessity of considering, when determining the applicability of the Eleventh Amendment, the real affront to a State of allowing a suit to proceed. As we explained in Ford Motor Co. v. Department of Treasury of Ind., 323 U.S. 459 (1945): "[T]he nature of a suit as one against the state is to be determined by the essential nature and effect of the proceeding." Id., at 464. We held that "when the action is in essence one for the recovery of money from the state, the state is the real, substantial party in interest and is entitled to invoke its sovereign immunity from suit even though individual officials are nominal defendants." Ibid. In re Ayers, cited with approval in Young, stated that it is not "conclusive
Our recent cases illustrate a careful balancing and accommodation of state interests when determining whether the Young exception applies in a given case. In Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651 (1974), the relief granted by the Federal District Court required state officials to release and remit federal benefits. While the District Court's order might have served the goal of deterrence as well as compensation, we concluded the suit was barred by the Eleventh Amendment because it was not necessary for the vindication of federal rights. In reaching this conclusion, we explained that "we must judge the award actually made in this case, and not one which might have been differently tailored in a different case." Id., at 665. There was no need for the Edelman Court to consider the other relief granted by the District Court, prospectively enjoining state officials from failing to abide by federal requirements, since it was conceded that Young was sufficient for this purpose. 415 U. S., at 664. The second time the Edelman litigation came before the Court, in Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979), we made
Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267 (1977), is consistent with this approach. Although authorizing relief having an undeniably substantial effect on the State, Milliken does not obviate the need for careful consideration of a suit's impact. Milliken concerned a Young suit against various Michigan officials resulting in a District Court order requiring the State, along with the Detroit School Board, to pay for a comprehensive education program for schoolchildren who had been subjected to past acts of de jure segregation. The gravamen of the complaint and its ultimate purpose was to vindicate the plaintiffs' civil liberties, not to establish ownership over state resources or funds. The Milliken lawsuit and the resulting order were a direct result of the State's "official acts of racial discrimination committed by both the Detroit School Board and the State of Michigan" in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. 433 U. S., at 269. If Congress pursuant to its § 5 remedial powers under the Fourteenth Amendment may abrogate sovereign immunity, even if the resulting legislation goes beyond what is constitutionally necessary, see, e. g., Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445 (1976) (concluding that Title VII's authorization of federal-court jurisdiction to award money damages against a state government to individuals subjected to employment discrimination does not violate the Eleventh Amendment since Congress was exercising its § 5 remedial powers), it follows that the substantive provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment themselves offer a powerful reason to provide a federal forum.
This case-by-case approach to the Young doctrine has been evident from the start. Before Larson v. Domestic and Foreign Commerce Corp., 337 U.S. 682 (1949) (a federal sovereign immunity case), we allowed suits to proceed, as explained above, if the official committed a tort as defined by the common law. While Larson rejected this reliance on the common law of torts, see id., at 692-695, the importance of case-by-case analysis was recognized again in Seminole Tribe. There, in holding the Young exception inapplicable to a suit based on federal law, we relied on Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U.S. 412 (1988). Chilicky, in turn, addressed whether a Bivens type of action, a right of action stemming from the Constitution itself, see Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), applied in a suit alleging due process violations in the denial of Social Security disability benefits. A Bivens action was unavailable, the Chilicky Court held, given the particular circumstances present in the case. Seminole Tribe `s implicit analogy of Young to Bivens is instructive. Both the Young and Bivens lines of cases reflect a sensitivity to varying contexts, and courts should consider whether there are "special factors counselling hesitation," 403 U. S., at 396, before allowing a suit to proceed under either theory. The range of concerns to be considered in answering this inquiry is broad. See id., at 407 (Harlan, J., concurring).
As no one disputes, the Young fiction is an exercise in line-drawing. There is no reason why the line cannot be drawn to reflect the real interests of States consistent with the clarity and certainty appropriate to the Eleventh Amendment's jurisdictional inquiry.
We now turn to consider whether the Tribe may avoid the Eleventh Amendment bar and avail itself of the Young exception. Although the "difference between the type of relief barred by the Eleventh Amendment and that permitted under Ex parte Young will not in many instances be that between day and night," Edelman, 415 U. S., at 667, this suit, we decide, falls on the Eleventh Amendment side of the line, and Idaho's sovereign immunity controls.
The Tribe has alleged an ongoing violation of its property rights in contravention of federal law and seeks prospective injunctive relief. The Tribe argues that it should therefore be able to avail itself of the Ex parte Young fiction. Moreover, the Tribe points to the plurality decision in Florida Dept. of State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc. , 458 U.S. 670 (1982) (opinion of Stevens, J.), where we allowed a Federal District Court to issue a warrant commanding state officials to turn over various artifacts (mainly treasure from a sunken Spanish galleon) to the United States Marshal despite the State's claim of sovereign immunity.
An allegation of an ongoing violation of federal law where the requested relief is prospective is ordinarily sufficient to invoke the Young fiction. However, this case is unusual in that the Tribe's suit is the functional equivalent of a quiet title action which implicates special sovereignty interests. We do not think Treasure Salvors, supra, is helpful to the Tribe because the state officials there were acting beyond the authority conferred upon them by the State, id., at 696— 697, a theory the Tribe does not even attempt to pursue in the case before us. We must examine the effect of the Tribe's suit and its impact on these special sovereignty interests in order to decide whether the Ex parte Young fiction is applicable.
It is common ground between the parties, at this stage of the litigation, that the Tribe could not maintain a quiet title suit against Idaho in federal court, absent the State's consent.
Any contention that the State is not implicated by the suit in a manner having an immediate effect on jurisdictional control over important public lands is belied by the complaint itself. The state officials who are the named defendants, all members of the Board of Land Commissioners save Director Higginson, include: Governor Cecil Andrus, who is Chairman of the Board and trustee of a public water right in Lake Coeur d'Alene pursuant to Idaho Code § 67-4304 (1989); Pete Cenarrusa, Secretary of State; Larry EchoHawk, Attorney General; Jerry Evans, Superintendent of Public Instruction; J. D. Williams, Auditor; and Keith Higginson, Director of the Department of Water Resources. The power to regulate and control the use and disposition of public lands, including the beds of navigable lakes, rivers, and streams, is vested in the Board of Land Commissioners. Idaho Const., Art. IX,
Not only would the relief block all attempts by these officials to exercise jurisdiction over a substantial portion of land but also would divest the State of its sovereign control over submerged lands, lands with a unique status in the law and infused with a public trust the State itself is bound to respect. As we stressed in Utah Div. of State Lands v. United States, 482 U.S. 193, 195-198 (1987), lands underlying navigable waters have historically been considered "sovereign lands." State ownership of them has been "considered an essential attribute of sovereignty." Id., at 195. The Court from an early date has acknowledged that the people of each of the Thirteen Colonies at the time of independence "became themselves sovereign; and in that character hold the absolute right to all their navigable waters and the soils under them for their own common use, subject only to the rights since surrendered by the Constitution to the general government." Martin v. Lessee of Waddell, 16 Pet. 367, 410 (1842). Then, in Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan, 3 How. 212 (1845), the Court concluded that States entering the Union after 1789 did so on an "equal footing" with the original States and so have similar ownership over these "sovereign lands." Id., at 228-229. In consequence of this rule, a State's title to these sovereign lands arises from the equal footing doctrine and is "conferred not by Congress but by the Constitution itself." Oregon ex rel. State Land Bd. v. Corvallis Sand & Gravel Co., 429 U.S. 363, 374 (1977). The importance of these lands to state sovereignty explains our longstanding commitment to the principle that the United States is presumed to have held navigable waters in acquired territory for the ultimate benefit of future States and "that disposals by the United States during the territorial period are not lightly to be inferred, and should not be regarded as intended unless the intention was definitely declared or
The principle which underlies the equal footing doctrine and the strong presumption of state ownership is that navigable waters uniquely implicate sovereign interests. The principle arises from ancient doctrines. See, e. g., Institutes of Justinian, Lib. II, Tit. I, § 2 (T. Cooper transl. 2d ed. 1841) ("Rivers and ports are public; hence the right of fishing in a port, or in rivers are in common"). The special treatment of navigable waters in English law was recognized in Bracton's time. He stated that "[a]ll rivers and ports are public, so that the right to fish therein is common to all persons. The use of river banks, as of the river itself, is also public." 2 H. Bracton, De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae 40 (S. Thorne transl. 1968). The Magna Carta provided that the Crown would remove "all fish-weirs . . . from the Thames and the Medway and throughout all England, except on the sea coast." M. Evans & R. Jack, Sources of English Legal and Constitutional History 53 (1984); see also Waddell, supra, at 410-413 (tracing tidelands trusteeship back to Magna Carta).
The Court in Shively v. Bowlby, 152 U.S. 1, 13 (1894), summarizing English common law, stated:
Not surprisingly, American law adopted as its own much of the English law respecting navigable waters, including the principle that submerged lands are held for a public purpose.
American law, in some ways, enhanced and extended the public aspects of submerged lands. English law made a distinction between waterways subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and large enough to accommodate boats (royal rivers) and nontidal waterways (public highways). With respect to the royal rivers, the King was presumed to hold title to the riverbed and soil while the public retained the right of passage and the right to fish. With public highways, as the name suggests, the public retained the right of passage, but title was typically held by a private party. See J. Angell, A Treatise on The Common Law in relation to Water-Courses 14-18 (1824). The riparian proprietor was presumed to hold title to the stream to the center thread of the waters (usque ad filum aquae), which accorded him the exclusive right of fishery in the stream and entitled him to compensation for any impairment of his right to the enjoyment of his property caused by construction. The State's obligation to pay compensation could result in substantial liability. Shrunk v. Schuylkill, 14 Serg. & Rawle 71, 80 (Pa.
American law, moreover, did not recognize the sovereign's rights of private property (jus privatum) that existed in England, apart from the public's rights to this land (jus publicum). In England, for instance, the Crown had the exclusive right to hunt the "grand fishes," e. g., whales and sturgeons, of the sea. J. Angell, A Treatise on the Right of Property in Tide Waters and in the Soil and Shores Thereof 18-19 (1847). There was a particular aversion to recognizing in States the Crown's jus privatum right to seize private structures on shores and marshes reclaimed from tidewaters. See J. Gould, A Treatise on the Law of Waters including Riparian Rights, and Public And Private Rights In Waters Tidal And Inland § 32 (2d ed. 1891). All these developments in American law are a natural outgrowth of the perceived public character of submerged lands, a perception which underlies and informs the principle that these lands are tied in a unique way to sovereignty.
Idaho views its interest in the submerged lands in similar terms. Idaho law provides: "Water being essential to the industrial prosperity of the state, and all agricultural develJopment . . n its control shall be in the state, which, in providing for its use, shall equally guard all the various interests involved. All the waters of the state, when flowing in their
Our recitation of the ties between the submerged lands and the State's own sovereignty, and of the severance and diminishment of state sovereignty were the declaratory and injunctive relief to be granted, is not in derogation of the Tribe's own claim. As the Tribe views the case, the lands are just as necessary, perhaps even more so, to its own dignity and ancient right. The question before us is not the merit of either party's claim, however, but the relation between the sovereign lands at issue and the immunity the State asserts.
It is apparent, then, that if the Tribe were to prevail, Idaho's sovereign interest in its lands and waters would be affected in a degree fully as intrusive as almost any conceivable retroactive levy upon funds in its Treasury. Under these particular and special circumstances, we find the Young exception inapplicable. The dignity and status of its statehood allow Idaho to rely on its Eleventh Amendment
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed in part, and the case is remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
Justice O'Connor, with whom Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas join, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
The Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho seeks declaratory and injunctive relief precluding Idaho officials from regulating or interfering with its possession of submerged lands beneath Lake Coeur d'Alene. Invoking the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the Tribe argues that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar it from pursuing its claims against state officials in federal court. I agree with the Court that the Tribe's claim cannot go forward in federal court.
In Young, the Court held that a federal court has jurisdiction over a suit against a state officer to enjoin official actions that violate federal law, even if the State itself is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. The Young doctrine recognizes that if a state official violates federal law, he is stripped of his official or representative character and may be personally liable for his conduct; the State cannot cloak the officer in its sovereign immunity. Id., at 159-160. Where a plaintiff seeks prospective relief to end a state officer's ongoing violation of federal law, such a claim can ordinarily proceed in federal court. Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, 289-290 (1977). The doctrine is not, however, without limitations. A federal court cannot award retrospective relief, designed to remedy past violations of federal law. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 668 (1974); Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 68-69 (1985).
The Tribe's claim to federal jurisdiction rests heavily on cases that, in my view, do not control here. The first is Treasure Salvors, in which a plurality concluded that a federal court could issue a warrant commanding Florida officials to release certain artifacts because the suit was not, in effect, a suit against the State. But the fact that the suit was permitted to proceed in Treasure Salvors does not advance our inquiry. The plurality's conclusion that the suit was not against the State was based on its view that state officials lacked any colorable basis under state law for claiming rightful
Second, the Tribe invokes a series of cases in which plaintiffs successfully pursued in federal court claims that federal and state officials wrongfully possessed certain real property. See, e. g., United States v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196 (1882); Tindal v. Wesley, 167 U.S. 204 (1897). In both Lee and Tindal, the Court made clear that the suits could proceed against the officials because no judgment would bind the State. It was possible, the Court found, to distinguish between possession of the property and title to the property. See Lee, supra, at 222; Tindal, supra, at 223-224. A court could find that the officials had no right to remain in possession, thus conveying all the incidents of ownership to the plaintiff, while not formally divesting the State of its title. As noted, however, this case does not concern ownership and possession of an ordinary parcel of real property. When state officials are found to have no right to possess a disputed parcel of land, the State nevertheless retains its authority to
While I therefore agree that the Tribe's suit must be dismissed, I believe that the principal opinion is flawed in several respects. In concluding that the Tribe's suit cannot proceed, the principal opinion reasons that federal courts determining whether to exercise jurisdiction over any suit against a state officer must engage in a case-specific analysis of a number of concerns, including whether a state forum is available to hear the dispute, what particular federal right the suit implicates, and whether "special factors counse[l] hesitation" in the exercise of jurisdiction. Ante, at 274, 275, 278-280 (internal quotation marks omitted). This approach unnecessarily recharacterizes and narrows much of our Young jurisprudence. The parties have not briefed whether such a shift in the Young doctrine is warranted. In my view, it is not.
The principal opinion begins by examining this Court's early Young cases and concludes that the Court found the exercise of federal jurisdiction proper in those cases principally because no state forum was available to vindicate a plaintiff's claim that state officers were violating federal law. Ante, at 270-274. But the principal opinion cites not a single case in which the Court expressly relied on the absence of an available state forum as a rationale for applying Young. Instead, the principal opinion invokes language in
Not only do our early Young cases fail to rely on the absence of a state forum as a basis for jurisdiction, but we also permitted federal actions to proceed even though a state forum was open to hear the plaintiff's claims. In fact, Young itself relied on two such cases, Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 U.S. 362 (1894), and Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466 (1898). See 209 U. S., at 153-155. Both Reagan and Smyth, like Young, involved challenges to state enforcement of railroad rates. In each case, the Court permitted the federal suit to proceed in part because state statutes authorized state court challenges to those rates. As Young made clear, however, the fact that the States had waived immunity in their own courts was not the sole basis for permitting the federal suit to proceed. Discussing Reagan, the Young Court stated: "This court held that [language authorizing a suit in state court] permitted a suit in [federal court], but it also held that, irrespective of that consent, the suit was not in effect a suit against the State (although the Attorney General was enjoined), and therefore not prohibited under the [Eleventh] [A]mendment. . . . Each of these grounds is effective and both are of equal force. " 209 U. S., at 153 (emphasis added). Similarly, the Young Court emphasized that the decision in Smyth was not based solely on the state statute authorizing suit in state court; rather, it was based on the conclusion that the suit "was not a suit against a State." 209 U. S., at 154.
In casting doubt upon the importance of having federal courts interpret federal law, the principal opinion lays the groundwork for its central conclusion: that a case-by-case balancing approach is appropriate where a plaintiff invokes the Young exception to the Eleventh Amendment's jurisdictional
The principal opinion properly notes that the Court found some of the relief awarded by the lower court in Edelman — an order requiring state officials to release and remit federal benefits—barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Ante, at 278; see Edelman, supra, at 668. It then states that the Court did not consider the propriety of other relief awarded below—an injunction requiring state officials to abide by federal requirements—because the State conceded that such relief was proper under Young. Ante, at 278. The principal opinion appears to suggest that the Court could have found such relief improper in the absence of this concession. But surely the State conceded this point because the law was well established. Indeed, Edelman is consistently cited for the proposition that prospective injunctive relief is available in a Young suit. See, e. g., Milliken, supra, at 289. Similarly, by focusing on the Court's statement in Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 349 (1979), that the state officials did not object to preparing or sending notice of class members' possible remedies under state administrative procedures, ante, at 278-279, the principal opinion implies that the Court upheld
Nor can I agree with the principal opinion's attempt to import the inquiry employed in Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), into our Young jurisprudence. Ante, at 280. In the Bivens context, where the issue is whether an implied remedy for money damages exists in a suit against a federal official for a constitutional violation, we have declined to recognize such a remedy where we have identified "special factors counselling hesitation." 403 U. S., at 396. In likening Young actions to Bivens actions, the principal opinion places great weight on a single citation in the Court's opinion last Term in Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996). There, relying on Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U.S. 412, 423 (1988), we noted that where Congress has created a remedial scheme for the enforcement of a federal right, we may not supplement that scheme in a suit against a federal officer with a judicially created remedy. We reasoned that the same general principle
In sum, the principal opinion replaces a straightforward inquiry into whether a complaint alleges an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as prospective with a vague balancing test that purports to account for a "broad" range of unspecified factors. Ante, at 280. In applying that approach here, the principal opinion relies on characteristics of this case that do not distinguish it from cases in which the Young doctrine is properly invoked, such as the fact that the complaint names numerous public officials and the fact that the State will have a continuing interest in litigation against its officials. Ante, at 269-270, 282-283. These factors cannot supply a basis for deciding this case. Every Young suit names public officials, and we have never doubted the importance of state interests in cases falling squarely within our past interpretations of the Young doctrine.
While I do not subscribe to the principal opinion's reformulation of the appropriate jurisdictional inquiry for all cases in which a plaintiff invokes the Young doctrine, I nevertheless agree that the Court reaches the correct conclusion here. The Young doctrine rests on the premise that a suit against a state official to enjoin an ongoing violation of federal law is not a suit against the State. Where a plaintiff seeks to divest the State of all regulatory power over submerged lands—in effect, to invoke a federal court's jurisdiction to quiet title to sovereign lands—it simply cannot be said that the suit is not a suit against the State. I would not narrow
Justice Souter, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer join, dissenting.
Congress has implemented the Constitution's grant of federal-question jurisdiction by authorizing federal courts to enforce rights arising under the Constitution and federal law. The federal courts have an obligation to exercise that jurisdiction, and in doing so have applied the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), that in the absence of some congressional limitation a federal court may entertain an individual's suit to enjoin a state officer from official action that violates federal law. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho claims that officers of the State of Idaho are acting to regulate land that belongs to the Tribe under federal law, and the Tribe prays for declaratory and injunctive relief to halt the regulation as an ongoing violation of that law.
The response of today's Court, however, is to deny that obligation. The principal opinion would redefine the doctrine, from a rule recognizing federal jurisdiction to enjoin state officers from violating federal law to a principle of equitable discretion as much at odds with Young `s result as with the foundational doctrine on which Young rests. Justice O'Connor charts a more limited course that wisely rejects the lead opinion's call for federal jurisdiction contingent on case-by-case balancing, but sets forth a rule denying jurisdiction here on Eleventh Amendment grounds because the
While there is reason for great satisfaction that Justice O'Connor's view is the controlling one, it is still true that the effect of the two opinions is to redefine and reduce the substance of federal subject-matter jurisdiction to vindicate federal rights. And it is indeed substance, not form, that is here at stake, for this case comes on the heels of last Term's fundamentally erroneous decision in Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996). Consequently, if an individual or Indian tribe may not enter a federal court to obtain relief against state officers for violating federally derived property rights, that private plaintiff simply may seek no relief in a federal forum.
I respectfully dissent.
In Seminole Tribe, the Court declared Ex parte Young inapplicable to the case before it, having inferred that Congress meant to leave no such avenue of relief open to those claiming federal rights under the statute then under consideration. See Seminole Tribe, supra, at 73-76. The Court left the basic tenets of Ex parte Young untouched, however, see Seminole Tribe, supra, at 71-75, nn. 14, 16, 17, and Congress remained free to remove any bar to the invocation of Young, even in a successive suit by petitioners in Seminole Tribe itself.
When Congress has not so displaced the Young doctrine, a federal court has jurisdiction in an individual's action against state officers so long as two conditions are met. The plaintiff must allege that the officers are acting in violation of
The sources of federal law invoked by the Tribe go back to November 8, 1873, when President Grant issued an Executive Order establishing a reservation in the Idaho Territory for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. See 1 C. Kappler, Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties 837 (1904). The Tribe claims that the Executive Order, later ratified by Congress, see Act of Mar. 3, 1891, ch. 543, § 19, 26 Stat. 1026-1029, gave it the beneficial interest, subject only to the trusteeship of the United States, in the beds and banks of all navigable water within the reservation, including the submerged land under Lake Coeur d'Alene. See Complaint ¶¶ 19, 24.
This is a perfect example of a suit for relief cognizable under Ex parte Young. Young described the officials' act on the basis of which jurisdiction was found in that case "simply [as] an illegal act upon the part of a state official in attempting by the use of the name of the State to enforce a legislative enactment which is void because unconstitutional. . . . The State has no power to impart to him any immunity from responsibility to the supreme authority of the United States." 209 U. S., at 159-160. Later cases have made it clear that a state official's act is also ultra vires for purposes of the Young doctrine when it violates other valid federal law. See, e. g., Larson v. Domestic and Foreign Commerce Corp., 337 U.S. 682, 698-699 (1949). Such an illegal act amounting to ultra vires action is, of course, what the Tribe claims here.
The second difference from Young is that this case turns on federal law governing passage of title to property; but a government's assumption of title to property is no different from its assumption of any state authority that it may ultimately turn out not to have. That a claim involves title is thus irrelevant under Young and has never been treated otherwise. Not only has a title claim never displaced Young so as to render state officials immune to suit by a rival claimant, see, e. g., Treasure Salvors, supra, but long before Young had even been decided United States v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196 (1882), held federal officers to be subject to a possessory action for land claimed by the United States on the basis of federal law. Since for purposes of Young Idaho and its officials claiming title under federal law are in the same posture as the United States and its officers in Lee, the appropriate analysis is the one exemplified in that case. See also Tindal v. Wesley, 167 U.S. 204, 213 (1897) ("[I]t cannot be doubted that the question whether a particular suit is one against the State, within the meaning of the Constitution, must depend upon the same principles that determine whether a particular suit is one against the United States").
In Lee, the Court held there was federal jurisdiction over an ejectment suit brought by General Lee's son to oust federal
Lee thus illustrates that an issue of property title is no different from any other legal or constitutional matter that may have to be resolved in deciding whether the officer of an immune government is so acting beyond his authority as to be amenable to suit without necessarily implicating his government. See Treasure Salvors, supra, at 676, 695-697 (opinion of Stevens, J.) (like this case, involving state officials' reliance on federal law); see also Tindal, supra, at 222.
The second condition for applying Young is that relief be prospective, not retrospective, a bar to future violations of federal law, not recompense for past mistakes. See Edelman, 415 U. S., at 664-666. The present complaint asks for just such relief by seeking to enjoin the State's sport and recreational regulation of the water covering the lands. It asks for no damages for past infringement of the tribal interest asserted and no accounting for fees previously collected by the State in the course of its regulatory oversight. While there would, of course, be significant consequences to the State if the Tribe should prevail on the merits, that will be true whenever Young applies. In Young itself, the State was left unable to enforce statutory railroad rate regulation or collect penalties from violators, and the Young doctrine has been held to apply even when compliance by the defendant officials will create a charge on the state treasury. The relief does not cease to be forward looking, nor is the suit transformed into one against the State itself, so long as its burden upon the State is merely a "necessary consequence of [the officers'] compliance in the future with a substantive federal-question determination." Edelman, supra, at 668. See also Quern v. Jordan, 440 U. S., at 337 (a "federal court, consistent with the Eleventh Amendment, may enjoin state
What this straightforward analysis thus shows, precedent confirms. We have already seen that since the time of Young, as well as long before it, this Court has consistently held that a public officer's assertion of property title in the name of a government immune to suit cannot defeat federal jurisdiction over an individual's suit to be rid of interference with the property rights he claims. See, e. g., Treasure Salvors, 458 U. S., at 685-690 (opinion of Stevens, J.); Tindal, 167 U. S., at 221-223; Stanley v. Schwalby, 162 U.S. 255, 270— 271 (1896); Lee, 106 U. S., at 210. By a parity of reasoning, we have of course drawn the jurisdictional line short of ultimately quieting title (which would run directly against the State itself as putative title holder and not against its officers) or limiting the affected government in any subsequent quiet title action. "It is a judgment to the effect only that, as between the plaintiff and the defendants, the former is entitled to possession of the property in question, the latter having shown no valid authority to withhold possession from the plaintiff." Tindal, supra, at 223; see also Lee, supra, at 222. If dissatisfied with a federal court's interpretation of federal law in a suit against its officers, a State may itself subsequently "bring any action that may be appropriate to establish and protect whatever claim it has to the premises in dispute."
In sum, the Tribe seeks no damages or restitution to compensate for the State's exercise of authority over the land, nor does it ask for rescission of a past transfer of property. It says that state officers, by their continuing regulation, are committing an ongoing violation of federal law that may be halted by an injunction against the state officers. If the Tribe were to prove what it claims, it would establish "precisely the type of continuing violation for which a remedy may permissibly be fashioned under Young. " Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 282 (1986).
The first of the two points common to the opinions displacing Ex parte Young here is that this case pierces Young `s distinction between State and officer because the relief
What is equally significant, finally, is that an officer suit implicating title is no more or less the "functional equivalent" of an action against the government than any other Young suit. States are functionally barred from imposing a railroad rate found unconstitutional when enforced by a state officer; States are functionally barred from withholding welfare benefits when their officers have violated federal law on timely payment; States are functionally barred from locking up prisoners whom their wardens are told to release. There is nothing unique about the consequences of an officer suit
The second joint reason that commands a majority turns on the fact that something more than mere title would be affected if the Tribe were to prevail. As the principal opinion puts it, "[t]he suit seeks, in effect, a determination that the lands in question are not even within the regulatory jurisdiction of the State," ante, at 282, and state ownership of submerged lands "uniquely implicate[s] sovereign interests," ante, at 284, such that the injunction sought by the Tribe would have an unusual effect on the State's "dignity and status," ante, at 287. This is the same reason that Justice O'Connor gives for concluding that Lee and Tindal are not controlling here. See ante, at 290-291. She points out that Lee and Tindal involved claims to land that remained subject to state regulation even after the government officers were held to lack possessory authority, while here, if the Tribe were to prevail, no such regulatory power would be retained given that the submerged lands would no longer be "within Idaho's sovereign jurisdiction." Ante, at 289.
While this point is no doubt correct, it has no bearing on Young `s application in this case. The relevant enquiry, as noted, is whether the state officers are exercising ultra vires authority over the disputed submerged lands. If they are, a federal court may enjoin their actions, even though such a ruling would place the land beyond Idaho's regulatory jurisdiction and accordingly deny state officers regulatory authority. Idaho indisputably has a significant sovereign interest in regulating its submerged lands, see Utah Div. of State Lands v. United States, 482 U.S. 193, 195 (1987), but it has no legitimate sovereign interest in regulating submerged lands located outside state borders.
If, indeed, there were any doubt that claims implicating state regulatory jurisdiction are as much subject to Young
The remaining points of exception are, as I understand, confined to the principal opinion.
That opinion suggests that the line between officer and State may be dissolved for jurisdictional purposes because the state officials here were acting in accordance with state law in their administration of the disputed land: if state law purports to authorize the acts complained of, they are not unauthorized for purposes of discerning the line between officials and their State under the Eleventh Amendment. Ante, at 281, 286-287.
If compliance with state-law authority were a defense to a Young suit, however, there would be precious few Young suits. State-law compliance is in fact a characteristic circumstance of most cases maintained under Young, see, e. g., Edelman, 415 U. S., at 655, which are brought not because the defendant officials are mavericks under state law but because the state law is claimed to violate federal law made controlling by the Supremacy Clause. Young, accordingly, made it clear from the start that in a federal-question suit
In this case, indeed, the allusion to conformity with state law is doubly misplaced, for it is common ground here that state law is irrelevant if under federal law the combined executive and congressional action vested title to the submerged lands in the Tribe. Each party is claiming under federal law, and the only issue is whether the regulatory action by the state officials is authorized or ultra vires as judged under that federal law. The jurisdictional question is posed, in other words, just as if this were a suit against a federal officer, as in Larson, 337 U. S., at 701-702, and this case is essentially like Treasure Salvors, 458 U. S., at 675— 676, and n. 5, 695-697, in which the outcome turned directly on title under federal law.
The principal opinion's next reason for displacing Young rests on its view that the declaratory and injunctive relief the Tribe seeks is functionally equivalent to a money judgment and thus would amount to an impermissibly retrospective remedy. "[I]f the Tribe were to prevail, Idaho's sovereign interest in its lands and waters would be affected in a degree fully as intrusive as almost any conceivable retroactive levy upon funds in its Treasury." Ante, at 287. The principal opinion's assumption, in other words, is that intrusiveness is retrospectivity, an equation false to customary language usage and antithetical under extant Eleventh
A third reason proposed by the principal opinion in support of today's result is the supposedly supplemental character of federal-question jurisdiction under Young, subject to giving way whenever the private plaintiff would have entree
Federal-question jurisdiction turns on subject matter, not the need to do some job a state court may wish to avoid; it addresses not the adequacy of a state judicial system, but the responsibility of federal courts to vindicate what is supposed to be controlling federal law. See Green v. Mansour, 474 U. S., at 68 ("[T]he availability of prospective relief of the sort awarded in Ex parte Young gives life to the Supremacy Clause. Remedies designed to end a continuing violation of federal law are necessary to vindicate the federal interest in assuring the supremacy of that law"); Pennhurst, supra, at 105 ("[T]he Young doctrine has been accepted as necessary to permit the federal courts to vindicate federal rights and hold state officials responsible to the supreme authority of the United States. . . . Our decisions repeatedly have emphasized that the Young doctrine rests on the need to promote the vindication of federal rights" (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)). See also Haring v. Prosise, 462 U.S. 306, 322-323 (1983) (rejecting proposed rule that would relegate certain § 1983 claims to state court in the face of the statute's basic policy of providing a federal forum for vindication of federal rights).
Nor did the Young Court hint that some inadequacy of state remedies was tantamount to the unavailability of a state forum. See ante, at 271-274 (principal opinion). The opinion in Young and other cases did indeed include observations that remedies available at law might provide inadequate relief to an aggrieved plaintiff, and Young itself noted that the failure to comply with the state statute would result in criminal penalties and hefty fines. But these remarks about the severity of the sanctions supported the Court's conviction that an equitable remedy was appropriate, see Young, supra, at 148, 163-166; see also Poindexter v. Greenhow, 114 U.S. 270, 299 (1885), not that a state forum was unavailable or federal jurisdiction subject to state preemption.
There is one more strike against the principal opinion's assumption that there is some significance in the availability of a state forum. The day the Court decided Young, it also decided General Oil Co. v. Crain, 209 U.S. 211 (1908). General Oil reviewed an order of the Supreme Court of Tennessee dismissing a corporation's suit against a state officer for relief from what it claimed was his violation of the National Constitution. The state court had said it lacked jurisdiction in the matter after construing the suit as one against the State, which was immune as sovereign. This Court held the dismissal to be reversible error,
None of the considerations that the principal opinion would weigh in the course of its balancing process in this
Briefs of amicus curiae urging affirmance were filed for the United States by Acting Solicitor General Dellinger, Assistant Attorney General Schiffer, Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler, Jeffrey P. Minear, Anne S. Almy, and Edward J. Shawaker; and for the American Civil Liberties Union by Robin L. Dahlberg and Steven R. Shapiro.
Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the State of California et al. by Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General of California, Roderick E. Walston, Chief Assistant Attorney General, and Jan S. Stevens, Assistant Attorney General, joined by the Attorneys General for their respective States as follows: Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Bruce M. Botelho of Alaska, Grant Woods of Arizona, Winston Bryant of Arkansas, Gale A. Norton of Colorado, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Robert A. Butterworth of Florida, Margery S. Bronster of Hawaii, Thomas J. Miller of Iowa, Frank J. Kelley of Michigan, Hubert H. Humphrey III of Minnesota, Jeremiah W. Nixon of Missouri, Joseph P. Mazurek of Montana, Don Stenberg of Nebraska, Frankie Sue Del Papa of Nevada, Dennis C. Vacco of New York, Betty D. Montgomery of Ohio, W. A. Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, Mark Barnett of South Dakota, Jan Graham of Utah, Christine O. Gregoire of Washington, and James E. Doyle of Wisconsin; and for the StockbridgeMunsee Indian Community by Richard Dauphinais.
The principal opinion suggests that we held Young to apply in Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267 (1977), because the complaint sought to vindicate civil liberties and accordingly involved strong federal interest. See ante, at 279. The undeniable federal interest in protecting civil liberties, however, was not the reason we applied the Young remedy in Milliken. The sole enquiry in this regard was whether the relief sought was fairly characterized as prospective. See 433 U. S.,at 289 (noting that decree "fits squarely within the prospective-compliance exception reaffirmed by Edelman "). Given that we do not view a suit against a state officer for prospective relief as a suit against the State, the fact,as the majority in Seminole Tribe reaffirmed, see Seminole Tribe of Fla. v.Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 59 (1996), that Congress may abrogate state immunity from suit in legislation enacted pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment has no bearing on Young `s application.
Nor was General Oil overruled or otherwise "abandoned" by Georgia R. R. & Banking Co. v. Musgrove, 335 U.S. 900 (1949), in which the Court dismissed an appeal from a decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia holding that state sovereign immunity barred suits asserting constitutional claims against state officials. Cf. 16B C. Wright, A. Miller, & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 4024, pp. 363-364 (2d ed. 1996). The one-paragraph per curiam dismissal in Musgrove stated that an adequate non federal ground supported the state court's decision but did not identify the state ground involved; the posture of the case suggests that the Court may have viewed the lower court's decision as based on a valid state law regarding the timing and not the existence of state remedies. See Fallon, supra, at 1211, n. 317.
Finally, insofar as General Oil may be read to require that States provide some adequate judicial remedy to redress acts of state officials that violate federal law, see, e. g., Collins, Article III Cases, State Court Duties, and the Madisonian Compromise, 1995 Wis. L. Rev. 39, 164, n. 359, but not necessarily injunctive relief in particular, its relevance for our purposes remains the same, that is, that every litigant seeking prospective relief in federal court under Young may obtain some adequate redress in state court as well.
Other States have permitted such suits to proceed without discussing the jurisdictional basis for the action. See, e. g., Carroll v. Robinson, 178 Ariz. 453, 458-459, 874 P.2d 1010, 1015 (Ct. App. 1994); Honor v. Yamuchi, 307 Ark. 324, 330-332, 820 S.W.2d 267, 271-272 (1991); Endler v. Schutzbank, 68 Cal.2d 162, 180-182, 436 P.2d 297, 310-311 (1968); International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Colorado State Fair & Industrial Exposition Comm'n, 199 Colo. 265, 268-269, 610 P.2d 486, 489 (1980); Gebhart v. Belton, 33 Del. Ch. 144, 91 A.2d 137 (1952), rev'd on other grounds, 349 U.S. 294 (1955); Mercer v. Hemmings, 170 So.2d 33, 35 (Fla. 1964); Libertarian Party of Florida v. Smith, 660 So.2d 807 (Dist. Ct. App. Fla. 1995); Darling v. Kansas Water Office, 245 Kan. 45, 52-54, 774 P.2d 941, 947 (1989); Gumbhir v. Kansas State Bd. of Pharmacy, 231 Kan. 507, 512-515, 646 P.2d 1078, 1084 (1982); Secretary of State v. Bryson, 244 Md. 418, 423-424, 428-429, 224 A.2d 277, 280, 283 (1966); Maryland Comm. for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 228 Md. 412, 423-427, 439-440, 180 A.2d 656, 662-663, 671 (1962); Apkin v. Treasurer & Receiver General, 401 Mass. 427, 428-430, 517 N.E.2d 141, 141-142 (1988); Wicks v. Mississippi Valley State Univ., 536 So.2d 20 (Miss. 1988); Orozco v. Day, 934 P.2d 1009, 1017 (Mont. 1997); Northern Nevada Assn. of Injured Workers v. Nevada State Industrial Insurance System, 107 Nev. 108, 115-116, 807 P.2d 728, 733 (1991); New York Central R. Co. v. Lefkowitz, 12 N.Y.2d 305, 309-310, 189 N.E.2d 695, 697 (1963); Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. v. Anthony, 879 P.2d 845, 847-848 (Okla. Ct. App. 1994); Retired Adjunct Professors of the State of Rhode Island v. Almond, 690 A.2d 1342, 1348 (R. I. 1997); Riggs v. Burson, 941 S.W.2d 44 (Tenn. 1997); Sanders v. State Dept. of Public Welfare, 472 S.W.2d 179, 183-184 (Ct. App. Tex. 1971), error dism'd (1972); H. L. v. Matheson, 604 P.2d 907 (Utah 1979), aff'd, 450 U.S. 398 (1981); State Bd. of Elections v. Forb, 214 Va. 264, 265-266, 199 S.E.2d 527, 528 (1973).