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Sossamon v. Texas

Docket No.: 08-1438
Certiorari Granted: 05/24/10
Argued: November 2, 2010
Decided: 04/20/11

Topics:

ADA, Administrative Procedure, Americans with Disabilities Act, Article I, Bankruptcy, Civil Rights Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Commerce Clause, Education Amendments of 1972, Eleventh Amendment, Title VII, disparate treatment, equitable relief, immunity from suit, judicial review, sovereign immunity

PartyNames: Harvey Leroy Sossamon, III v. Texas, et al.
Petitioner: Harvey Leroy Sossamon, III
Respondent: Texas, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Citation: 560 F.3d 316
Supreme Court Docket

Harvey Leroy Sossamon, III
v.
Texas, et al.
Background:

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to 2000cc-5, provides an express private right of action to "obtain appropriate relief against a government," id. § 2000cc-2. The statute defines "government" to include state and local governmental entities and any "official of [such] an entity." Id § 2000cc-5(4) (A). The Fifth Circuit held, in conflict with the decisions of other courts, that the Constitution prohibits Congress from authorizing damages claims against states, or against state officials in their individual or personal capacities, for violations of the statute.

Consideration Limited:

LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: "WHETHER AN INDIVIDUAL MAY SUE A STATE OR STATE OFFICIAL IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY FOR DAMAGES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS LAND USE AND INSTITUTIONALIZED PERSONS ACT, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc ET SEQ. (2000 ED.)." JUSTICE KAGAN TOOK NO PART

Question Presented:

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to 2000cc-5, provides an express private right of action to "obtain appropriate relief against a government," id. § 2000cc-2. The statute defines "government" to include state and local governmental entities and any "official of [such] an entity." Id § 2000cc-5(4) (A). The Fifth Circuit held, in conflict with the decisions of other courts, that the Constitution prohibits Congress from authorizing damages claims against states, or against state officials in their individual or personal capacities, for violations of the statute. The question presented is: Whether states and state officials may be subject to suit for damages for violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act?

Question:

Under the RLUIPA, can a person sue a state official in his individual capacity for damages?

Sossamon v. Texas
ORAL ARGUMENT

11/02/10

Listen to Oral Argument in Sossamon v. Texas
Holding: affirmed
Vote: 6-2
Recused: J.,
Opinion By:

Sossamon v. Texas
Case Documents

1Opinion in Sossamon v. Texas
2Sossamon v. Texas Oral Argument Transcript (HTML)
3Sossamon v. Texas Oral Argument Audio
4Opinion in Sossamon v. Texas
5Sossamon v. Texas Oral Argument Audio
6Sossamon v. Texas Oral Argument Transcript (HTML)
Additional documents for this case are pending review.