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Diamond v. Pennsylvania State Education Association

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 8, 2019

ARTHUR DIAMOND, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, et al.,
v.
Plaintiffs,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs Arthur Diamond, Justin Barry, Douglas R. Kase, Jeffrey Schwartz, Matthew Shively, Matthew Simkins, and Sandra H. Ziegler (collectively, "Plaintiffs") bring this purported class-action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Chestnut Ridge Education Association, and the National Education Association (collectively, "Union Defendants"), as well as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board James M. Darby, Members of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board Albert Mezzaroba and Robert H. Shoop, Jr., and Bedford County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts (collectively, "Commonwealth Defendants"). Plaintiffs, who are all current or retired Pennsylvania public-school teachers, allege that Union Defendants violated Plaintiffs' constitutional rights by forcing Plaintiffs to pay fees to unions as a condition of their employment ("fair-share fees") under 71 Pa. Stat. § 575 ("Section 575"), even though Plaintiffs chose not to join the Pennsylvania State Education Association or its affiliate unions. Plaintiffs also claim that Commonwealth Defendants, who are charged in various ways with enforcing Pennsylvania's laws, must be enjoined from enforcing Section 575 in an unconstitutional manner. The outcome of this case turns in significant part on the application of ]anus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018), which was decided by the Supreme Court on June 27, 2018, less than two weeks after Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint in this matter. (See ECF No. 1.)

         Pending before the Court are two Motions to Dismiss filed by Commonwealth Defendants and Union Defendants. (ECF Nos. 38, 40.) These Motions have been fully briefed (ECF Nos. 38, 39, 40, 41, 48, 51) and are now ripe for disposition.

         For the reasons that follow, this Court will GRANT Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 38, 40).

         II. Venue[1]

         Because a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania, venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).

         III. Background

         A. Background on the Constitutionality of Fair-Share Fees

         Before discussing Plaintiffs' claims, the Court will briefly describe the law on the constitutionality of fair-share fees.

         1. Abood v. Detroit Board of Education

         In 1977, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977). In Abood, the Court confronted a Michigan statute that allowed unions representing local-government employees to utilize "agency-shop" clauses in collective-bargaining agreements. Id. at 211. These clauses required every employee represented by a union, even those who declined to become union members for political or religious reasons, to pay union dues. Id. at 212. Pursuant to this statute, a union that represented teachers employed by the Detroit Board of Education (the "Board") entered into a collective-bargaining agreement with the Board that required non-union-member teachers to pay a charge to the union equal to the regular dues paid by union members. Id. The non-member teachers sued, alleging that the charges paid under the agency-shop clause were used to support political activities, as opposed to simply being used to defray the costs of the union's collective-bargaining activities, and that the clause thus violated the teachers' First Amendment rights. Id. at 213.

         The Court held that the charges were constitutional to the extent they were used to finance the union's collective-bargaining, contract-administration, and grievance activities. Id. at 225. The Court explained:

A union-shop arrangement has been thought to distribute fairly the cost of [collective-bargaining] activities among those who benefit, and it counteracts the incentive that employees might otherwise have to become 'free riders' to refuse to contribute to the union while obtaining benefits of union representation that necessarily accrue to all employees.

Id. at 221-22. Furthermore, the Court reasoned that agency-shop arrangements promote what later case law has dubbed "labor peace." Janus, 138 S.Ct. at 2465. The Court explained that designating one union as the exclusive representative of a group of employees "frees the employer from the possibility of facing conflicting demands from different unions, and permits the employer and a single union to reach agreements and settlements that are not subject to attack from rival labor organizations." Abood, 431 U.S. at 221.

         However, the Court also concluded that the agency-shop clause and fees were unconstitutional insofar as the clause compelled non-member teachers to pay fees to the union that supported the union's political activities. Id. at 234-36. Writing for the majority, Justice Stewart explained that "at the heart of the First Amendment is the notion that an individual should be free to believe as he will, and that in a free society one's beliefs should be shaped by his mind and his conscience, rather than coerced by the State." Id. at 234-35. Based on these First Amendment principles, the Court held that the Constitution prohibited the union from requiring a non-member "to contribute to the support of an ideological cause he may oppose as a condition of holding a job as a public school teacher." Id. at 235. The Court elaborated:

We do not hold that a union cannot constitutionally spend funds for the expression of political views, on behalf of political candidates, or toward the advancement of other ideological causes not germane to its duties as collective-bargaining representative. Rather, the Constitution requires only that such expenditures be financed from charges, dues, or assessments paid by employees who do not object to advancing those ideas and who are not coerced into doing so against their will by the threat of loss of governmental employment.

Id. at 235-36.

         2. 71 Pa. Stat. § 575

         In accordance with Abood, Pennsylvania enacted its own agency-shop statute for public employees in 1988, 71 Pa. Stat. § 575. According to Section 575, if mandated by the provisions of a collective-bargaining agreement, non-members of public-employee unions must pay fair-share fees to the unions. Id. § 575(b). These fees consist of the regular union-membership dues less "the cost for the previous fiscal year of [the unions'] activities or undertakings which were not reasonably employed to implement or effectuate the duties of the employe organization as exclusive representative." Id. § 575(a).

         Section 575 also contains provisions (1) indicating how the public employer is to deduct the fair-share fees from non-members' paychecks, (2) describing union notice obligations to non-members, and (3) providing procedures for non-members to challenge the propriety of fair-share fees or the payment of fair-share fees on religious grounds. Id. § 575(c)-(h). In the event of a challenge on religious grounds, the non-member objector must pay the equivalent of the fair-share fee. Id. § 575(h). However, the union does not receive that payment-the fee goes "to a nonreligious charity agreed upon by the non[-]member and the [union]." Id.

         Finally, Section 575 contains penalty provisions. Particularly, "[a]ny employe organization which violates the provisions of this section or fails to file any required report or affidavit or files a false report or affidavit shall be subject to a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2, 000)." Id. § 575(l). In addition, "[a]ny person who willfully violates this section, or who makes a false statement knowing it to be false, or who knowingly fails to disclose a material fact shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1, 000) or undergo imprisonment for not more than thirty (30) days, or both." Id. § 575(m).

         Consistent with Abood, the general propriety of the fair-share fees permitted under Section 575 withstood constitutional scrutiny for many years. See Hohe v. Casey, 740 F.Supp. 1092, 1094 (M.D. Pa. 1989) ("It is beyond doubt that agency shop fair-share fees, accompanied by appropriate procedural safeguards, are constitutional." (citing Chi. Teachers Union, Local No. 1 v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986); Ellis v. Ry. Clerks, 466 U.S. 435 (1984); Abood, 431 U.S. at 209)), vacated in part on other grounds, 956 F.2d 399 (3d Cir. 1992). However, the Supreme Court slowly began to question its holding in Abood. See Harris v. Quinn, 134 S.Ct. 2618, 2627, 2632-38 (2014); Knox v. Serv. Emps. Int'l Union, Local 1000, 567 U.S. 298, 311 (2012) ("Acceptance of the free-rider argument as a justification for compelling non[-]members to pay a portion of union dues represents something of an anomaly-----"). Then, the Court overruled Abood in June 2018 in Janus. See Janus, 138 S.Ct. at 2460. Based on Janus, the constitutionality of Section 575 is now challenged.

         3. Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31

         In Janus, the Court dealt again with a state law requiring non-union-member public employees to pay fees to the union to compensate the union for costs incurred in the collective-bargaining process. See Id. at 2460-61. The Court held that the state law was unconstitutional. Id. at 2478, 2486.

         The Court rejected the rationale in Abood because, among other reasons, Abood's free-rider justification did not support upholding the fees. Id. at 2469. Specifically, the Court explained:

In simple terms, the First Amendment does not permit the government to compel a person to pay for another party's speech just because the government thinks that the speech furthers the interests of the person who does not want to pay.

Id. at 2467.

         Moreover, the Court rejected Abood's "labor peace" argument. Id. at 2465-66. The Court explained that the Abood Court falsely assumed a close relationship between the designation of a union as the exclusive representative of a group of employees and the fees. Id. The Court noted that today, there are groups of public employees who are exclusively represented by one union but who are not compelled to pay such fees. Id. at 2466. "It is [thus] now undeniable that 'labor peace' can readily be achieved 'through means significantly less restrictive of associational freedoms' than the assessment of agency fees." Id.

         After concluding that the doctrine of stare decisis did not prohibit overruling Abood, the Court held that "States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees." Id. at 2486. "Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a non[-]member's wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay." Id.

         Plaintiffs bring the present claims within this context.

         B. Factual and Procedural Background[2]

         Plaintiffs Arthur Diamond, Justin Barry, Douglas R. Kase, Jeffrey Schwartz, Matthew Shively, and Matthew Simkins are public-school teachers in various Pennsylvania school districts. (ECF No. 62 ¶¶ 17-22.) Plaintiff Sandra H. Ziegler is a retired public-school teacher who taught in a Pennsylvania school district for 24 years. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiffs represent two distinct classes: the "agency-fee payers" and the "religious objectors," described below. (Id. at 2.)

         Plaintiffs bring this purported class-action lawsuit against the following Defendants: the Pennsylvania State Education Association (the "PSEA"), a labor union; the Chestnut Ridge Education Association (the "CREA"), a local union chapter affiliated with the PSEA; the National Education Association (the "NEA"), a labor union affiliated with the PSEA; Josh Shapiro, the attorney general of Pennsylvania, in his official capacity; James M. Darby, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (the "PLRB"), in his official capacity; Albert Mezzaroba and Robert H. Shoop, Jr., members of the PLRB, in their official capacities; and Lesley Childers-Potts, the district attorney of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, in her official capacity and as a representative of the class of all district attorneys in Pennsylvania with the authority to prosecute violations of Section 575. (Id. ¶¶ 11-16.)

         Mr. Diamond, who represents the agency-fee-payer class, refuses to join the PSEA or its affiliates because he disapproves of their political advocacy and the salaries paid to their members. (Id. ¶ 17.) However, the collective-bargaining agreements negotiated by the PSEA compelled Mr. Diamond and others like him to pay a fair-share fee to the PSEA and its affiliates as a condition of their employment. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) Pennsylvania law authorized the PSEA and its affiliates to extract these fair-share fees. (Id. ¶ 31); see 71 Pa. Stat. § 575.

         Mr. Barry, Mr. Kase, Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Shively, Mr. Simkins, and Ms. Ziegler[3] represent the second class of Plaintiffs-the religious objectors. (ECF No. 62 at 2.) These Plaintiffs refuse to join the PSEA or its affiliates because the union advocates for policies that contradict their religious beliefs. (Id. ¶¶ 18-23.) The collective-bargaining agreements negotiated by the PSEA compelled Plaintiffs and their fellow religious objectors to pay a fee for choosing not to join the union. (Id. ¶ 24.) Specifically, the religious-objector Plaintiffs paid the equivalent of a fair-share fee to nonreligious charities approved by the union. (Id.) This option was available only to those who objected to the union's activities on "bona fide religious grounds" and is also authorized by Pennsylvania law. (Id. ¶¶ 24, 31); see 71 Pa. Stat. § 575.

         Plaintiffs claim that Union Defendants' "compelled extraction of money from the representative plaintiffs and their fellow class members violated their constitutional rights- regardless of whether the union kept the money for themselves or directed it toward a union-approved charity." (ECF No. 62 ¶ 28.) Plaintiffs bring this class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201. (Id. ¶ 53.) Plaintiffs also bring state-law causes of action against Union Defendants, including conversion, trespass to chattels, replevin, unjust enrichment, and restitution. (Id. ¶ 54.) Plaintiffs request that this Court:

(1) Certify plaintiff classes of agency-fee payers and religious objectors and defendant classes of all chapters and affiliates of the PSEA and of all district attorneys in Pennsylvania with the authority to prosecute violations of Section 575 (id. ¶ 55(a)-(d));
(2) Declare that Plaintiffs have a constitutional right to decline to join or financially support a public-employee union and that they cannot be penalized or forced to pay money to a union or third-party entity as a consequence of exercising this constitutional right (id. ¶ 55(e));
(3) Declare that all collective-bargaining agreements that compel non-union members to pay fair-share fees violate Plaintiffs' constitutional rights (id. ¶ 55(o));
(4) Declare Section 575 unconstitutional to the extent it allows public-employee unions to extract fair-share fees from non-members' salaries without first securing their consent (id. ¶ 55(g)-(h)) and to the extent it delineates punishments for those who refuse to join or financially support a public-employee union or pay money to a union-approved charity (id. ¶ 55(n));
(5) Declare Section 575 unconstitutional because it forces religious objectors to pay fees to union-approved charities and penalizes them for exercising their constitutional right not to join or financially support a union, and also because it disqualifies religious charities from receiving a non-union member's fair-share fees (id. ¶ 55(Z)-(m));
(6) Declare the objection and arbitration provisions of Section 575 unconstitutional (id. ¶ 55(i)-(k));
(7) Enjoin the PSEA and its affiliates from enrolling Plaintiffs in union membership unless the union informs them of their constitutional rights and secures a waiver of those rights (id. ¶ 55(q));
(8) Enjoin the PSEA from entering into collective-bargaining agreements that compel employees to pay money to a union as a condition of employment, compel employees who decline union membership to pay money to third-party entities, or allow a union to enroll employees in union membership without informing them of their constitutional rights and securing a waiver (id. ¶ 55(r));
(9) Enjoin Defendants from enforcing provisions of collective-bargaining agreements that require payment as a consequence of exercising one's constitutional right not to join or financially support a public-employee union (id. ¶ 55(s));
(10) Enjoin Commonwealth Defendants from enforcing Section 575 in an unconstitutional manner (id. ¶ 55(g)-(n), (s));
(11) Order the PSEA, NEA, and their affiliates and chapters to repay all fair-share fees they extracted from Plaintiffs, regardless of whether Union Defendants kept those funds for themselves or diverted them to charities (id. ¶ 55(p)); and
(12) Award costs and attorneys' fees (id. ¶ 55(t)).

         Plaintiffs initiated this lawsuit on June 15, 2018, by filing their Class Action Complaint.

         (ECF No. 1.) On August 20, 2018, Commonwealth Defendants and Union Defendants filed separate Motions to Dismiss with accompanying briefs. (ECF Nos. 30, 31, 32, 33.) In response, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 37.) Commonwealth Defendants and Union Defendants filed new Motions to Dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) and briefs in support on September 19, 2018.[4] (ECF Nos. 38, 39, 40, 41.) Plaintiffs responded with their Brief in Opposition to the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 48) on October 10, 2018. After receiving leave of court (see ECF No. 50), Union Defendants filed a Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 51) on October 30, 2018. Union Defendants also submitted two Notices of Supplemental Authority (ECF Nos. 52, 53), directing this Court's attention to relevant cases that were decided after Union Defendants submitted their Reply Brief.

         On January 7, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Class-Action Complaint (ECF No. 58) and brief in support (ECF No. 59). After Union Defendants opposed the Motion (ECF No. 60), the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs' Motion on January 31, 2019. (See ECF No. 61.) Plaintiffs then filed their Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 62) on February 5, 2019. Per the Court's January 31, 2019, Memorandum Order, the Court treats the Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (ECF Nos. 38, 40) as Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint. (See ECF No. 61 at 5.) Since the filing of the Second Amended Complaint, Union Defendants have filed ten Notices of Supplemental Authority (ECF Nos. 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72) identifying new decisions that purportedly support Union Defendants' position in this matter.

         IV. Standard of Review

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), under which a complaint may be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, puts the court's "very power to hear the case" at issue. Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294, 302 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). There are two types of Rule 12(b)(1) challenges: facial and factual. In re Horizon Healthcare Sews. Inc. Data Breach Litig., 846 F.3d 625, 632-33 (3d Cir. 2017); Hartig Drug Co. Inc. v. Senju Pharm. Co. Ltd., 836 F.3d 261, 268 (3d Cir. 2016).

         A facial challenge "attacks the complaint on its face without contesting its alleged facts." Hartig, 836 F.3d at 268. This type of challenge is treated like a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, discussed infra, in that the court must assume that the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations are true. Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 346 (3d Cir. 2016); Hartig, 836 F.3d at 268. Facial challenges address issues such as whether the complaint presents a question of federal law or pleads diversity jurisdiction, and such attacks can occur before the moving party has filed an answer. Constitution Party of Pa. v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 358 (3d Cir. 2014).

         In contract, a factual attack "is an argument that there is no subject matter jurisdiction because the facts of the case ... do not support the asserted jurisdiction." Id. This challenge "allows the defendant to present competing facts," id.; see Davis, 824 F.3d at 346, and the court does not assume that the plaintiff's allegations are true. Davis, 824 F.3d at 346. For example, "while diversity of citizenship might have been adequately pleaded by the plaintiff, the defendant can submit proof that, in fact, diversity is lacking." Constitution Party, 757 F.3d at 358.

         In order to tell the difference between a facial and factual attack, the court looks to the stage of the proceedings: if a complaint is challenged under Rule 12(b)(1) before the defendant answered the complaint or otherwise presented competing facts, it is a facial attack. Id; Davis, 824 F.3dat2016.

         Here, Commonwealth Defendants have not yet filed an answer or presented competing facts; therefore, their Motion to Dismiss, to the extent it is based on Rule 12(b)(1), must be treated as a facial attack on this Court's subject-matter jurisdiction, a conclusion with which they agree. (See ECF No. 39 at 3.)

         In contrast, in support of their Motion to Dismiss, Union Defendants submitted various sworn declarations. (ECF Nos. 41-1, 41-2, 41-3, 41-4, 41-5, 41-6, 41-7.) Union Defendants seem to assert that based on the submission of these declarations, their Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) must be treated as a factual attack on this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. (See ECF No. 41 at 10 n.1 (citing Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176-77 (3d Cir. 2000), which discussed treating a 12(b)(1) motion as a factual attack).) And Plaintiffs do not challenge this assertion. Therefore, when evaluating Union Defendants' 12(b)(1) grounds for dismissal, the Court may consider Union Defendants' affidavits.

         B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         A complaint may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Rule 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786 (3d Cir. 2016). But detailed pleading is not generally required. Id. The Rules demand only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and Iqbal, a court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint must take three steps.[5] First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009). Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at 679; see also Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011) ("Mere restatements of the elements of a claim are not entitled to the assumption of truth." (citation omitted)). Finally, "[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.; see also Connelly, 809 F.3d at 786. Ultimately, the plausibility determination is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         V. Discussion

         A. Commonwealth Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted.

         In Commonwealth Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (ECF No. 38) and brief in support thereof (ECF No. 39), Commonwealth Defendant move to dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint because (1) Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim fails to specify which constitutional rights are at issue, (2) Plaintiffs' claims against Commonwealth Defendants are barred by the Eleventh Amendment, and (3) the chairman and members of the PLRB and Attorney General Shapiro are not appropriate defendants to this action. (Id.)

         1. Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim states a claim even though it does not explicitly state which constitutional rights are at issue.

         As an initial matter, the Court rejects Commonwealth Defendants' assertion that Plaintiffs' failure to specify the constitutional rights at issue is fatal to Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a complaint state "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required-the complaint must simply contain enough information to give the defendants fair notice of the claim and the facts upon which the claim is based. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint clearly gives notice of the constitutional rights at issue through its factual allegations and its reliance on ]anus. The cases to which Commonwealth Defendants cite are inapposite, as they involved factual allegations that were not clear enough to implicate specific constitutional rights. See, e.g., Culver v. Pennsylvania, Civil No. 3:10-CV-382, 2010 WL 11531289, at *4 (M.D. Pa. May 19, 2010) ("Culver's claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do not allege in an intelligible fashion any cognizable violation of specific rights guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of the United States upon which relief can be granted."), report and recommendation adopted by 2010 WL 11537607 (M.D. Pa. July 28, 2010). Therefore, based on the Court's experience and common sense, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, the Court declines to dismiss Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim as to Commonwealth Defendants for failure to specify the constitutional rights on which the claim is based.

         2. Based on Eleventh Amendment immunity, Plaintiffs' claims against Commonwealth Defendants are dismissed.

         Commonwealth Defendants next move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against them because they are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. (ECF No. 39 at 6.) Commonwealth Defendants explain that the Eleventh Amendment protects Commonwealth Defendants from this lawsuit and that no exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity applies. (Id. at 8-10.)

         In response, Plaintiffs do not dispute that Eleventh Amendment immunity generally applies to Commonwealth Defendants. Instead, Plaintiffs assert that their claims against Commonwealth Defendants fall within the Ex parte Young exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity because Plaintiffs seek prospective relief to enjoin violations of federal law. (ECF No. 48 at 29.)

         a. The Eleventh Amendment

         The Eleventh Amendment states that "[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State."[6] U.S. Const, amend. XI. The Supreme Court "has long 'understood the Eleventh Amendment to stand not so much for what it says, but for the presupposition . . . which it confirms." Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents,528 U.S. 62, 72-73 (2000) (citations omitted) (quoting Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida,517 U.S. 44, 54 (1996)). This presupposition is that "the States entered the federal system with their sovereignty intact [and] that the judicial authority in Article III is limited by this sovereignty." Blatchford v. Native Vill. of Noatak & Circle Vill.,501 U.S. 775, 779 (1991) (citing Welch v. Tex. Dep't of Highways and Pub. Transp., 483 U.S. 468, 472 (1987)). "Accordingly, for over a century now, [the Supreme Court has] made clear ...


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