Media for Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy v. StewartAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 01, 2010 in Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy v. Stewart
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 19, 2011 in Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy v. Stewart
Something everyone agrees is proper.
And in this case, VOPA's power to sue state officials is a consequence of Virginia's own decision to establish a public rather than a private P&A system.
We failed to perceive what indignity is visited on the Commonwealth when by the operation of its own laws, VOPA is admitted to federal court as a plaintiff.
It is also argued that this lawsuit offends sovereign immunity because it divides Virginia against itself.
But that is not a distinctive consequence of letting the suit proceed in federal court under Ex parte Young.
The same result would follow if the matter were heard in state court.
And since this Court could still review the federal question at the behest of the state court loser, the plan would not even avoid the prospect of federal judges resolving VOPA's dispute with the respondents.
We have no occasion to pass on any other questions of federalism lurking in this case such as whether the underlying federal statutes are a proper exercise of Congress' enumerated powers.
We do not doubt of course that there are limits on the federal government's power to affect the internal operations of a state.
It may not commandeer a state's officers for example or dictate her capital, but those limits must be found in some textural -- textural provision or structural premise of the Constitution.
Additional limits cannot be smuggled in under the Eleventh Amendment by barring a suit in federal court that does not violate the State's sovereign immunity.
Finally, we acknowledge that this lawsuit between two state agencies in federal court is something of a novelty.
And that what is novel is often novel because of past constitutional doubts.
That is not likely the reason here.
The likely explanation is that state agencies do not often possess federal rights against their parent states and they cannot sue to enforce those rights unless the parent states consent to give them independent litigating authority.
We are unaware that these conditions have ever presented themselves except in connection with the unusual federal statute at issue here.
For this and other reasons set forth more fully in our opinion, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case before the proceeding is consistent with our opinion.
Justice Kennedy has filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Thomas has joined.
The Chief Justice has filed a descending opinion in which Justice Alito has joined.
Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.