A Foreign Country Cannot Sue A State In Federal Courts

1934

In the early 1830s, a number of Mississippi citizens purchase bonds from their home state. The heirs of the original bondholders, who are unable to collect on the bonds, give them, as a gift, to the Principality of Monaco. Although worthless to the Mississippi residents, they think that Monaco, as a foreign country, might be able to go to federal court to collect on the long overdue debt. Mississippi refuses to pay and argues that under the Eleventh Amendment the federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear the case. In Principality of Monaco v. Mississippi, the Court finds that the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects Mississippi from suits by foreign countries unless the state specifically consents to such a suit. No such consent is given.