illustration by Donkey Hotey at flickr.com

Many have written on the illogical nature of the Supreme Court’s 19th century definition of a corporation as a “person”. A decision that trumped law in the name of convenience.

Well, that’s not the only one, it is not even the most outrageous.

Ladies and Gentlemen the 11th Amendment as it was and still is written:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

You may note that specifically missing are suits of a citizen against his own State. Using textual analysis you would logically assume that means the 11th Amendment does not bar a suit for money against a person’s own State.

Your logic would be impeccable. And legally it would be wrong.

And who likes frustrating the civil rights of ordinary citizens more than the Roberts Court? Oh, I’m sure there are some, but none so able to do so.

The high court by a 5-4 vote ruled that lawsuits against states under the law were barred by state sovereign immunity, rejecting state worker claims for money damages for violations of a provision of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

Congratulations State employees, you have far fewer actual and practical rights in your job than your private counterparts. In fact, now that money damages are not on the table, States have a large practical incentive to fire employees who become ill, the best that employee can get is reinstatement and back pay (minus mitigation), after years and expenses involved in litigation.

That is usually not at all worth it.

Nice legal rights you got there, too bad they mean nothing.

Good luck with that.