May 12, 2011
On April 20, 2011, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Sossamon v. Texas. The question in this case was the following: When states accept federal funds, does that constitute consent on the part of the states to waive their sovereign immunity to suits for money damages under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA)?
In an opinion delivered by Justice Thomas, the Court held by a vote of 6-2 that when states accept federal funding, they do not consent to waive their sovereign immunity to private suits for money damages under RLUIPA. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Alito joined the opinion of Justice Thomas. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Breyer joined. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
To discuss the case, we have Jacob R. Loshin, who is an associate at Winston & Strawn LLP.