415 U.S. 651 (1974), 72-1410, Edelman v. Jordan

Docket Nº:No. 72-1410
Citation:415 U.S. 651, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662
Party Name:Edelman v. Jordan
Case Date:March 25, 1974
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 651

415 U.S. 651 (1974)

94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662




No. 72-1410

United States Supreme Court

March 25, 1974

Argued December 12, 1973




Respondent brought this class action for injunctive and declaratory relief against the Illinois officials administering the federal-state programs of Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD), which are funded equally by the State and Federal Governments, contending that they were violating federal law and denying equal protection of the laws by [94 S.Ct. 1348] following state regulations that did not comply with the federal time limits within which participating States had to process and make grants with respect to AABD applications. The District Court by a permanent injunction required compliance with the federal time limits and also ordered the state officials to release and remit AABD benefits wrongfully withheld to all persons found eligible who had applied therefor between July 1, 1968, the date of the federal regulations, and April 16, 1971, the date of the court's preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting the state officials' contentions that the Eleventh Amendment barred the award of the retroactive benefits and that the judgment of inconsistency between federal regulations and state provisions could be given only prospective effect.

Held: The Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution bars that portion of the District Court's decree that ordered retroactive payment of benefits. Pp. 658-678.

(a) A suit by private parties seeking to impose a liability payable from public funds in the state treasury is foreclosed by the Amendment if the State does not consent to suit. Pp. 662-663.

(b) The Court of Appeals erred in holding that Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, which awarded only prospective relief, did not preclude the retroactive monetary award here on the ground that it was an "equitable restitution," since that award, though on its face directed against the state official individually, as a practical matter, could be satisfied only from the general revenues of the State, and was indistinguishable from an award of damages against the State. Ford Motor Co. v. Department of Treasury,

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323 U.S. 459, followed. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618; State Dept. of Health and Rehabilitation Services v. Zarate, 407 U.S. 918; Sterrett v. Mothers' & Children's Rights Organization, 409 U.S. 809; Wyman v. Bowens, 397 U.S. 49, disapproved to extent that their holdings do not comport with the holding in the instant case on the Eleventh Amendment issue. Pp. 663-671.

(c) The State of Illinois did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity and consent to the bringing of respondent's suit by participating in the federal AABD program. Parden v. Terminal R. Co., 377 U.S. 184, and Petty v. Tennessee-Missouri Bridge Comm'n, 359 U.S. 275, distinguished. Nor does the mere fact that a State participates in a program partially funded by the Federal Government manifest consent by the State to be sued in federal courts. Pp. 671-674.

(d) The Court of Appeals properly considered the Eleventh Amendment defense, which the state officials did not assert in the District Court, since that defense partakes of the nature of a jurisdictional bar. Ford Motor Co. v. Department of Treasury, supra. Pp. 677-678.

472 F.2d 985, reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, and POWELL, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, .J., post, p. 678, and BRENNAN, J., post, p. 687, filed dissenting opinions. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 688.

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REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

[94 S.Ct. 1351] MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent John Jordan filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, individually and as a representative of a class, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against two former directors of the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the director of the Cook County Department of Public Aid, and the comptroller of Cook County. Respondent alleged that these state officials were administering the federal-state programs of Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD) in a manner inconsistent with various federal regulations and with the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.1

AABD is one of the categorical aid programs administered by the Illinois Department of Public Aid pursuant to the Illinois Public Aid Code, Ill.Rev.Stat., c. 23, §§ 3-1 through 3-12 (1973). Under the Social Security Act, the program is funded by the State and the Federal Governments. 42 U.S.C. § 1381-1385.2 The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW),

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which administers these payments for the Federal Government issued regulations prescribing maximum permissible time standards within which States participating in the program had to process AABD applications. Those regulations, originally issued in 1968, required, at the time of the institution of this suit, that eligibility determinations must be made by the States within 30 days of receipt of applications for aid to the aged and blind, and within 45 days of receipt of applications for aid to the disabled. For those persons found eligible, the assistance check was required to be received by them within the applicable time period. 45 CFR § 206.10(a)(3).3

Page 655

During the period in which the federal regulations went into effect, Illinois public aid officials were administering the benefits pursuant to their own regulations as provided in the Categorical [94 S.Ct. 1352] Assistance Manual of the Illinois Department of Public Aid.4 Respondent's complaint charged that the Illinois defendants, operating under those regulations, were improperly authorizing grants to commence only with the month in which an application was approved and not including prior eligibility months for which an applicant was entitled to aid under federal law. The complaint also alleged that the Illinois defendants were not processing the applications within the applicable time requirements of the federal regulations; specifically, respondent alleged that his own application

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for disability benefits was not acted on by the Illinois Department of Public Aid for almost four months. Such actions of the Illinois officials were alleged to violate federal law and deny the equal protection of the laws. Respondent's prayer requested declaratory and injunctive relief, and specifically requested "a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants to award to the entire class of plaintiffs all AABD benefits wrongfully withheld."

In its judgment of March 15, 1972, the District Court declared § 4004 of the Illinois Manual to be invalid insofar as it was inconsistent with the federal regulations found in 45 CFR § 206.10(a)(3), and granted a permanent injunction requiring compliance with the federal time limits for processing and paying AABD applicants. The District Court, in paragraph 5 of its judgment, also ordered the state officials to

release and remit AABD benefits wrongfully withheld to all applicants for AABD in the State of Illinois who applied between July 1, 1968 [the date of the federal regulations] and April 16, 197[1] [the date of the preliminary injunction issued by the District Court] and were determined eligible. . . .5

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[94 S.Ct. 1353] On appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Illinois officials contended, inter alia, that the Eleventh Amendment barred the award of

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retroactive benefits, that the judgment of inconsistency between the federal regulations and the provisions of the Illinois Categorical Assistance Manual could be given prospective effect only, and that the federal regulations in question were inconsistent with the Social Security Act itself. The Court of Appeals rejected these contentions and affirmed the judgment of the District Court. Jordan v. Weaver, 472 F.2d 985 (1973).6 Because of an apparent conflict on the Eleventh Amendment issue with the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Rothstein v. Wyman, 467 F.2d 226 (1972), cert. denied, 411 U.S. 921 (1973), we granted the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Joel Edelman, who is the present Director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid, and successor to the former directors sued below. 412 U.S. 937 (1973). The petition for certiorari raised the same contentions urged by the petitioner in the Court of Appeals.7 Because [94 S.Ct. 1354] we believe the Court of Appeals

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erred in it disposition of the Eleventh Amendment claim, we reverse that portion of the Court of Appeals decision which affirmed the District Court's order that retroactive benefits be paid by the Illinois state officials.8

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The historical basis of the Eleventh Amendment has been oft stated, and it represents one of the more dramatic examples of this Court's effort to derive meaning from the document given to the Nation by the Framers nearly 200 years ago. A leading historian of the Court tells us:

The right of the Federal Judiciary to summon a State as defendant and to adjudicate its rights and liabilities had been the subject of deep apprehension and of active debate at the time of the adoption of the Constitution; but the existence of any such right had been disclaimed by many of the most eminent advocates of the new Federal Government, and it was largely owing to their successful dissipation of the fear of the existence of such Federal power that the Constitution was finally adopted.

1 C. Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History 91 (rev. ed.1937).

Despite such disclaimers,9 the very first suit entered

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in this Court at its [94 S.Ct. 1355] February Term...

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