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Only officers in their private capacity can violate your rights...

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  • Legalbear
    The cases in which suits against officers of a State have been considered as against the State itself, and, therefore, within the inhibition of the Eleventh
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2011
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      The cases in which suits against officers of a State have been considered as against the State itself, and, therefore, within the inhibition of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, and those in which such suits were considered to be against state officers, as individuals, were elaborately reviewed and distinguished in the recent case of In re Ayers, 123 U.S. 443. That case came before us on application for habeas corpus by the attorney general of Virginia, the auditor of the State, and the commonwealth's attorney for Loudoun county in that State, who were in the custody of the United States marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia, for contempt of court, in disobeying a restraining order of the Circuit Court of the United States for that district, commanding them not to institute and prosecute certain suits in the name of the State of Virginia, required to be brought by the statutes of the State. The suit in which the restraining order was issued was nominally against certain officers of the State, but this court held that it was, in effect, a suit against the State itself, and, therefore, in violation of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution. And that such being true, the acts and proceedings of the Circuit Court in that suit were null and void for all purposes; and the prisoners were discharged. In delivering the opinion of the court, Mr. Justice Matthews, referring to the class of cases in which it had been adjudged that the suit was against state officers in their private capacity, and not against the State, said: "The vital principle in all such cases is that the defendants, though professing to act as officers of the State, are threatening a violation of the personal or property rights of the complainant, for which they are personally and individually liable... . This feature will be found, on an examination, to characterize every case where persons have been made defendants for acts done or threatened by them as officers of the government, either of a State or of the United States, where the objection has been interposed that the State was the real defendant, and has been overruled." 123 U.S. 500, 501. Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 US 1, 17 (1891).




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