Edelman v. Jordan 415 U.S. 651 (1974)
EDELMAN v. JORDAN 415 U.S. 651 (1974)
This decision defines states' eleventh amendment immunity from suit in federal court. Plaintiffs, alleging that Illinois welfare officials were unconstitutionally administering a welfare program financed by state and federal funds, sought the payments wrongfully withheld. The Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice william h. rehnquist, held the Eleventh Amendment to bar the request for retroactive relief but suggested that, as in ex parte young (1908), the Eleventh Amendment would not bar relief requiring the state to pay the costs of future constitutional compliance. In milliken v. bradley (1977), the Court reconfirmed Edelman by requiring a state to pay the costs of future constitutional compliance.
Edelman also developed the principles regulating Congress's power to modify the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity. First, limiting earlier holdings such as Parden v. Terminal Railway (1964), Edelman held that mere participation by a state in a federal welfare program does not constitute a waiver of the state's Eleventh Amendment protection. It thus confirmed the narrow approach to waiver signaled by Employees v. Department of Public Health and Welfare (1973). Second, despite Congress's power to abrogate states' Eleventh Amendment immunity, Edelman stated that actions brought under section 1983, title 42, united states code, are limited by the Eleventh Amendment. At the time, the state's protection from section 1983 actions seemed to stem from the Court's holding in monroe v. pape (1961) that Congress had not meant to render cities liable under section 1983. With the overruling of that portion of Monroe in monell v. department of social services (1978), the question whether section 1983 abrogated the states' Eleventh Amendment immunities reemerged. In quern v. jordan (1979), a sequel to Edelman, the Court held that section 1983 was not meant to abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment protection.