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Sovereignty

Akaka Bill Debate

Online Debate
Roger Clegg, Jon M. Van Dyke, Gail Heriot, Davianna McGregor September 26, 2007

Proposed by U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), the Akaka Bill, also known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007, seeks to establish a process for Native Hawaiians to gain federal recognition similar to the recognition that some Native American tribes currently possess.

A panel of experts including President & General Counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity, Roger Clegg, University of Hawaii Law School Professor, Jon M. Van Dyke, San Diego law professor Gail Heriot, and Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, Davianna McGregor comment on the legal and policy issues raised by this measure.

Here is a useful list of references:

Text of the Akaka Bill: Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act

Rice v Cayetano (2000)

Argentina Bond Case Decided by U.S. Supreme Court - Podcast

International & National Security Law and Litigation Practice Groups Podcast
Michael D. Ramsey, Thomas H. Lee June 19, 2014

Central Bank of ArgentinaThe Supreme Court decided a complex but important case on June 16, 2014, Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, Limited. The Republic of Argentina issued bonds to American investors, correspondingly waiving its sovereign immunity and consenting to jurisdiction in New York State. Argentina subsequently defaulted on those bonds. Plaintiff bondholder NML did not participate in a renegotiation of the bonds and sued to prevent Argentina from paying other bondholders that agreed to settle their claims.

At issue were whether NML Capital could bring suit against Argentina under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and the extent of discovery to which plaintiffs are entitled. In court, the United States sided with Argentina. Argentina asserted it should be able to block third party disclosure of its assets, since some assets might be sensitive diplomatic or military assets. The Supreme Court ruled, 7-1, that Argentina is subject to the FSIA, and thus liable to suit pursuant to it, and that American banks can be ordered to disclose Argentina’s assets in the U.S. as part of discovery in the default lawsuit. This decision has potential ramifications for government debt restructuring around the world. Our experts examined these and other possible effects of the decision.

  • Prof. Michael D. Ramsey, Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Professor of Law, Director, International & Comparative Law Programs, University of San Diego School of Law
  • Prof. Thomas H. Lee, Leitner Family Professor of International Law, Director Graduate and International Studies, Fordham University School of Law

Blind to Text, Unfaithful to Principle

Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 1, Issue 1, Fall 1996
John F. Duffy August 12, 2009
The most significant decision involving federalism that was handed down during the October 1995 Term--indeed, during the last several Terms--was the Court's landmark ruling in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. State of Florida, 116 S. Ct. 1114 (1996). In Seminole, the Court held that, in light of the "background principle" of sovereign immunity that underlay the Eleventh Amendment, Congress has no power under the Commerce Clauses of Article I of the Constitution to subject the States to citizen suits in federal court without their consent. The decision may have far reaching effects, potentially invalidating a host of laws that permits citizens to sue States in federal court over such varied matters as environmental clean-ups, claims arising in bankruptcy proceedings, and fair labor standards. The decision has generally been applauded by conservatives, and it unquestionably promotes the sort of substantive policies that federalists advocate. But is the method of decisionmaking reflected in Seminole faithful to the principles of originalism and textualism that federalists have also strongly championed? Or it is an exercise in conservative judicial activism that disregards the text in favor of judicially imposed substantive values? These issues are explored in the following lively exchange between California Assistant Attorney General Thomas Gede and Cardozo Law School Professor John Duffy.

Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 04-06-12 featuring Elizabeth Foley
Elizabeth Price Foley April 06, 2012

SCOTUScastOn March 20, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals.  The question here was whether Congress, in passing the “self-care” provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act, validly abrogated the sovereign immunity of states.  Under the self-care provision, a state worker may sue if the state interferes with the worker’s statutory right to a certain amount of leave due to a personal, debilitating health condition.  Here, the lower courts had dismissed such a lawsuit.

By a vote of 5-4 the Court affirmed the judgment of the lower courts, but did so without a majority opinion.  Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, filed a plurality opinion concluding that sovereign immunity barred the state worker’s suit.  Justice Thomas also filed a separate concurring opinion.  Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, but relying upon a different rationale than the plurality.  Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Breyer joined, and in which Justices Sotomayor and Kagan joined as to all except footnote one.

To discuss the case, we have Elizabeth Price Foley, who is a Professor at the Florida International University College of Law.

Congressional Control Over State Sovereign Immunity: The Recent Supreme Court Decisions

Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 1999
Gregory G. Katsas August 11, 2009
On June 23, 1999, the last day of the most recent Supreme Court Term, the Court handed down three major decisions addressing the extent to which Congress can abrogate the sovereign immunity of the states from lawsuits brought by private parties in state or federal court. By the same five-to-four majority in each case, the Court imposed significant restrictions on Congress's power to abrogate state sovereign immunity. Although these decisions do not substantially change the overall balance of power between the federal government and the states, they do continue a recent trend of state victories in federalism cases.