Publication Date



39 p. ; This student paper has been awarded the 2008 Don G. McCormick Prize.


In this paper, I attempt to examine the extent to which the notion of popular sovereignty has affected Americas views on sovereign immunity. This paper does not attempt to settle the ongoing battles about whether the Constitution protects sovereign immunity, although those battles are examined in part because they have produced the most thorough critiques and defenses of sovereign immunity. I examine the debates surrounding the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Chisholm v. Georgia because those events present insights into how the framers saw the issues of sovereignty and sovereign immunity. Since one framer, James Wilson, had unusually well-developed and pointed views on the topic, his views are examined in detail. I also examine the reasoning of late-20th century state judicial opinions abolishing common law sovereign immunity.'


University of New Mexico School of Law

Document Type

Student Paper



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