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States Can Be Sued In Federal Courts Over Constitutional Principles


The Minnesota legislature passes laws that reduce the rates that railroad companies can charge to carry passengers and cargo. Stockholders of the railroads file nine lawsuits in federal court against Minnesota officials, challenging the new rate schedules. In one of these cases, Ex Parte Young, the Supreme Court holds that it is proper to hear the case in federal court because it involves a federal question: whether the high fines deny the railroad stockholders due process of law (for taking property without a fair procedure in place). In such circumstances, the state is not immune from suit.