In Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1 (1890), the U.S. Supreme Court established a broad view of the Eleventh Amendment and of sovereign immunity. Specifically, the Court held that the Eleventh Amendment protects a state from being sued by one of its own citizens in federal court.
- It is inherent in the nature of sovereignty not to be amenable to the suit of an individual without its consent. This is the general sense and the general practice of mankind; and the exemption, as one of the attributes of sovereignty, is now enjoyed by the government of every State in the Union. Unless, therefore, there is a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the convention, it will remain with the States ...."
Id. at 13 (quoting The Federalist No. 81, pp. 548–549 (J. Cooke ed. 1961)) (emphasis added and deleted).