Edelman v. Jordan

LOCATION: Detroit Public Schools

DOCKET NO.: 72-1410
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 415 US 651 (1974)
ARGUED: Dec 12, 1973
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1974

Robert J. O’rourke -
Sheldon Roodman - for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Edelman v. Jordan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 12, 1973 in Edelman v. Jordan

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 25, 1974 in Edelman v. Jordan

Warren E. Burger:

The disposition of number 72-1410, Edelman against Jordan will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

In this case the respondents who are welfare recipients brought a class action in the Northern District of Illinois, seeking injunctive and declaratory against the Illinois officials administering the Federal State Program of Aid to the aged, blind and disabled.

The respondent contended that the Illinois officials were violating federal law and denying equal protection of the laws by 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 the AABD applications.

The District Court granted a permanent injunction requiring compliance with the federal time limits and also ordered the state officials to release and to remit benefits wrongfully withheld to all persons found eligible who would apply for the benefits.

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed rejecting the state officials’ contentions that the Eleventh Amendment bar that portion of the award which amounted to retroactive benefits, and the judgment of inconsistency between federal regulations and state provisions could be given only prospective effect.

The State appealed here and we hold today that the Eleventh Amendment of the constitution does bar that portion of the District Court’s decree that ordered retroactive payment of benefits.

While a Federal Court may give prospective injunctive relief against the state official under the rationale of Ex parte Young, it may not award retroactive payments payable from public funds in the state treasury unless the state has consented to sue.

Here we hold that the State of Illinois did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity by the mere fact that it chose to participate in the AABD program, which is partially funded by the Federal Government.

Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings consistent with the opinion filed today with the clerk.

Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Brennan have each filed dissenting opinions.

Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Blackmun joined.