Skip to main content

Citizens Cannot Take Cases Against Their Own States To Federal Court


A Louisiana man buys bonds issued by the State of Louisiana in 1874. Six years later, when he goes to collect payments that are owed to him, the state refuses to pay. Louisiana officials argue that a state law passed in the interim has nullified the state’s obligation to pay the debt. In Hans v. Louisiana, the bondholder takes the case to federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a lawsuit against a state by one of its own citizens cannot be heard in federal court.