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Showing posts from July, 2019

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY

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The first modification of the Constitution after it was adopted, emerged to remedy a concern over the vulnerability of States to private and foreign lawsuits that would essentially, nullify their authority to make laws at all. The 11th Amendment extends the right of sovereign immunity to States. States can waive this immunity, and sometimes they do. But courts have long upheld sovereign immunity (as long as it does not interfere with the 14th Amendment’s abolition of slavery).

Sovereign immunity is a handy tool in the tool chest that can be used in defense of environmental laws. Clean air, clean water, and preservation of nature are, after all, sovereign interests within a state’s borders. They can can and should be spelled out as such. That relates to States though, not local governments.

Local efforts to create a more democratic and sustainable world through environmental laws will inevitably receive opposition not only in enacting them, but also afterwards in lawsuits brought by we…