2002 Term information here
Frew v. Hawkins
Do states waive their immunity when they sign consent decrees?
Oral arguments: October 7, 2003Something for everyone with an interest in federalism: Frew v Hawkins, which grew out of a Medicaid lawsuit in Texas, takes up Section 1983 law, statutory intent, state sovereign immunity, and the enforceability, in federal court, of state consent decrees. (As an added attraction, there's a passionate amicus brief signed by the odd assemblage of AARP, the ACLU, and the anti-defamation league).
Some background on the case: after being sued for failing its obligations to children under Medicaid law, Texas agreed to change its ways by signing on to a consent decree. Plaintiffs weren't impressed with the results and, two years later, filed a motion in federal court to enforce the agreement. Texas health officials, in response, appealed to the 5th Circuit. They claimed to be in compliance with the decree, thank you very much, and immune from compliance action under the11th Amendment.
The Supremes have decided many cases in recent years regarding states' immunity from suits under state and federal statutes. Here, they will decide if states are immune from enforcement actions based on their own agreements.
Specific questions in this case:
Do State officials waive Eleventh Amendment immunity by urging the district
court to adopt a consent decree when the decree is based on federal law and
specifically provides for the district court's ongoing supervision of the
officials' decree compliance?
5th Circuit opinion here
Lane v. Tennessee
Are states immune from damage claims under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ?
6th Circuit opinion here
Locke v. Davey
Does the First Amendment trump a state constitutional provision prohibiting the use of state money for religious instruction?