Did the 16th Amendment Nullify Other Provisions of the Constitution?
The Constitution of the United States, with the several amendments thereof, must be regarded as one instrument, all of whose provisions are to be deemed of equal validity. It would, indeed, be most unfortunate if the immunity of the individual States from suits by citizens of other States, provided for in the Eleventh Amendment, were to be interpreted as nullifying those other provisions which confer power on Congress to regulate commerce among the several States, which forbid the States from entering into any treaty, alliance or confederation, from passing any bill of attainder, ex post facto law or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or, without the consent of Congress, from laying any duty of tonnage, entering into any agreement or compact with other States, or from engaging in war — all of which provisions existed before the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment, which still exist, and which would be nullified and made of no effect, if the judicial power of the United States could not be invoked to protect citizens affected by the passage of state laws disregarding these constitutional limitations. Much less can the Eleventh Amendment be successfully pleaded as an invincible barrier to judicial inquiry whether the salutary provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment have been disregarded by state enactments. On the other hand, the judicial power of the United States has not infrequently been exercised in securing to the several States, in proper cases, the immunity intended by the Eleventh Amendment. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10; North Carolina v. Semple, 134 U.S. 22; Harkrader v. Wadley, 172 U.S. 148; Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U.S. 516.
544*544 It is one of the important functions of this court to so interpret the various provisions and limitations contained in the organic law of the Union that each and all of them shall be respected and observed. Prout v. Starr, 188 US 537, 543-4 (1903).
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