5 Court Cases

I. Name and Citation
STATE OF FLORIDA, versus SEMINOLE TRIBE OF FLORIDA

II. Key Facts
In this complaint, the the Tribe was operating "electronic or electromechanical facsimiles of games of chance" and that such operations constituted class III gaming as defined by IGRA. These games were operated despite the absence of a compact between the Tribe and the State regarding the regulation of class III gaming. The State also alleged that the Tribe planned to construct a new facility on its lands in order to conduct additional class III gaming.

III. The Issue
Does the operation of such games without a Tribal-State compact violate both federal and state law?

IV. Holding and Vote
No (Opinion by Justice Stevens)

V. Reasoning
Congress abrogated tribal immunity from state suits that seek declaratory or injunctive relief for alleged tribal violations of IGRA; (2) the Tribe, by electing to engage in gaming under IGRA, waived its immunity from a suit to require compliance with the statutory conditions precedent to class III gaming; and (3) tribal immunity does not necessarily extend to actions seeking prospective equitable relief. Congress may abrogate a sovereign\'s immunity only by using statutory language that makes its intention unmistakably clear, and that ambiguities in federal laws implicating Indian rights must be resolved in the Indians\' favor. The Supreme Court has made it plain that waivers of tribal sovereign immunity cannot be implied on the basis of a tribe\'s actions, but must be unequivocally expressed. Accordingly, we reject the State\'s argument that the Tribe\'s immunity does not necessarily extend to this action for prospective equitable relief. The district court\'s holding that sovereign immunity bars the State\'s suit against the Tribe is affirmed.

I. Name and Citation
ALDEN et al. v. MAINE

II. Key Facts
Congress lacks power under Article I to abrogate the States\' sovereign immunity in federal court, the Federal District Court dismissed a Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 suit filed by petitioners against their employer, respondent Maine. Subsequently, petitioners filed the same action in state court. Although the FLSA purports to authorize private actions against States in their own courts, the trial court dismissed the suit on the ground of sovereign immunity.


III. The Issue
Does the federal government have authority under Article I to abrogate a State\'s immunity in it\'s own court?

IV. Holding and Vote
Yes. (vote 5-4) (Opinion by Justice Kennedy)

V. Reasoning
The Constitution\'s structure and history and this Court\'s authoritative interpretations make clear that the States\' immunity from suit is a fundamental aspect of the sovereignty they enjoyed before the Constitution\'s ratification and retain today except as altered by the plan of the Convention or certain constitutional Amendments. The States\' immunity from private suit in their own courts is beyond congressional power to abrogate by Article I legislation. Congress may exercise its Article I powers to subject States to private suits in their own courts only if there is compelling evidence that States were required to surrender this power to Congress pursuant to the constitutional design. A question of first impression. History, practice, precedent, and the Constitution\'s structure show no compelling evidence that this derogation of the States\' sovereignty is inherent in the constitutional compact.

VI. Separate Opinions
Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O\'Connor, Scalia, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined.

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I. Name and Citation
BUCKLEY v. FITZSIMMONS ET AL.

II. Key Facts
Petitioner Buckley sought damages from respondent prosecutors for fabricating evidence during the preliminary investigation of a highly publicized rape and murder in Illinois and making false statements at a press conference announcing the return of an indictment against him. He claimed that when three separate lab studies failed to make a reliable connection between a bootprint at the murder site and his boots, respondents obtained a positive identification from one Robbins, who allegedly was known for her willingness to fabricate unreliable expert testimony. Thereafter, they convened a grand jury for the sole purpose of investigating the murder, and 10 months later, respondent Fitzsimmons, the State\'s Attorney, announced the indictment at the news conference. Buckley was arrested and, unable to meet the bond, held in jail. Robbins provided the principal evidence against him at trial, but the jury was unable to reach a