199 F.3d 279 (5th Cir. 2000), 98-10251, Rodriguez v Texas Comm'n on the Arts

Docket Nº:98-10251
Citation:199 F.3d 279
Party Name:ABEL RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TEXAS COMMISSION ON THE ARTS, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:January 10, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 279

199 F.3d 279 (5th Cir. 2000)

ABEL RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

TEXAS COMMISSION ON THE ARTS, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 98-10251

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 10, 2000

Page 280

Appeal from the United States District Court For the Northern District of Texas

Before DAVIS, DUHE and PARKER, Circuit Judges.

ROBERT M. PARKER, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff sued the Texas Commission on the Arts in federal court alleging copyright infringement. Plaintiff appeals decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissing plaintiff's suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Because we find that the Copyright Clarification Act, 17 U.S.C. § 511 (1994), does not abrogate a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity pursuant to a valid exercise of congressional power, we AFFIRM.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

Plaintiff claims that the Arts Commission infringed on his design for Texas license plates, a design which he registered with the United States Copyright Office, when it started selling its specialized "State of the Arts" license plates to Texas residents. In response to plaintiff's complaint, defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The district court granted defendant's motion to dismiss and entered an order dismissing the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to FED R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1). Plaintiff argues on appeal that the district court's ruling is erroneous because Congress had the power to pass a law that gave plaintiff a cause of action for copyright infringement against the State of Texas.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review a district court's grant of a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. See Herbert v. United States, 53 F.3d 720, 722 (5th Cir. 1995); see also EP Operating Ltd. Partnership v. Placid Oil Co., 26 F.3d 563, 566 (5th Cir. 1994) ("This Court reviews dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) de novo using the same standards employed by the district court.").

DISCUSSION

Citizens may not bring suit against a state or any instrumentality thereof without the state's consent. See U.S. Const. amend. XI.; Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 15 (1890) (noting that federal jurisdiction over suits against unconsenting states "was not contemplated by the Constitution when establishing the judicial power of the United States"). Plaintiffs contend that Congress's enactment of the Copyright Remedy...

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