The Misunderstood Eleventh Amendment

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The Eleventh Amendment might be the most misunderstood amendment to the Constitution. Both its friends and enemies have treated the Amendment’s written text, and the unwritten doctrines of state sovereign immunity, as one and the same— reading broad principles into its precise words, or treating the written Amendment as merely illustrative of unwritten doctrines. The result is a bewildering forest of case law, which takes neither the words nor the doctrines seriously.

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