States Retain Sovereign Immunity When Participating In Welfare Programs

1974

A group of people eligible for a welfare program administered by both the federal and state governments ask a federal court to order Illinois to comply with federal time limits in handing out grants. The lower courts ordered Illinois to comply with the federal time limits and to pay out grants that have been wrongfully withheld from recipients. Illinois appeals, claiming that its sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment means that the federal courts cannot order it to pay the grants. In Edelman v. Jordan, the Supreme Court agrees that the state has not waived its immunity by participating in the joint federal-state welfare program.