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527 U.S. 706 (1999) ALDEN et al. v. MAINENo. 98-436.United States Supreme Court. Argued March 31, 1999. Decided June 23, 1999. CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MAINE*707 *708 *709 *710 Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Scalia, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 760. Justice Kennedy, delivered the opinion of the Court.In 1992, petitioners, a group of probation officers, filed suit against their employer, the State of Maine, in the United States District Court for the District of Maine. The officers alleged the State had violated the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 52 Stat. 1060, as *712 amended, 29 U. S. C. 201 et seq. (1994 ed. and Supp. III), and sought compensation and liquidated damages. While the suit was pending, this Court decided Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U. S. 44 (1996), which made it clear that Congress lacks power under Article I to abrogate the States' sovereign immunity from suits commenced or prosecuted in the federal courts. Upon consideration of Seminole Tribe, the District Court dismissed petitioners' action, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Mills v. Maine, 118 F. 3d 37 (CA1 1997). Petitioners then filed the same action in state court. The state trial court dismissed the suit on the basis of sovereign immunity, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed. 715 A. 2d 172 (1998). The Maine Supreme Judicial Court's decision conflicts with the decision of the Supreme Court of Arkansas, Jacoby v. Arkansas Dept. of Ed., 331 Ark. 508, 962 S. W. 2d 773 (1998), and calls into question the constitutionality of the provisions of the FLSA purporting to authorize private actions against States in their own courts without regard for consent, see 29 U. S. C. 216(b), 203(x). In light of the importance of the question presented and the conflict between the courts, we granted certiorari. 525 U. S. 981 (1998). The United States intervened as a petitioner to defend the statute. We hold that the powers delegated to Congress under Article I of the United States Constitution do not include the power to subject nonconsenting States to private suits for damages in state courts. We decide as well that the State of Maine has not consented to suits for overtime pay and liquidated damages under the FLSA. On these premises we affirm the judgment sustaining dismissal of the suit. IThe Eleventh Amendment makes explicit reference to the States' immunity from suits "commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U. S. *713 Const., Amdt. 11. We have, as a result, sometimes referred to the States' immunity from suit as "Eleventh Amendment immunity." The phrase is convenient shorthand but something of a misnomer, for the sovereign immunity of the States neither derives from, nor is limited by, the terms of the Eleventh Amendment. Rather, as the Constitution's structure, its history, and the authoritative interpretations by this Court make clear, the States' immunity from suit is a fundamental aspect of the sovereignty which the States enjoyed before the ratification of the Constitution, and which they retain today (either literally or by virtue of their admission into the Union upon an equal footing with the other States) except as altered by the plan of the Convention or certain constitutional Amendments.

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AAlthough the Constitution establishes a National Government with broad, often plenary authority over matters within its recognized competence, the founding document "specifically recognizes the States as sovereign entities." Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, supra, at 71, n. 15; accord, Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U. S. 775, 779 (1991) ("[T]he States entered the federal system with their sovereignty intact"). Various textual provisions of the Constitution assume the States' continued existence and active participation in the fundamental processes of governance. See Printz v. United States, 521 U. S. 898, 919 (1997) (citing Art. III, 2; Art. IV, 2-4; Art. V). The limited and enumerated powers granted to the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of the National Government, moreover, underscore the vital role reserved to the States by the constitutional design, see, e. g., Art. I, 8; Art. II, 2-3; Art. III, 2. Any doubt regarding the constitutional role of the States as sovereign entities is removed by the Tenth Amendment, which, like the other provisions of the Bill of Rights, was enacted to allay lingering concerns about the extent of *714 the national power. The Amendment confirms the promise implicit in the original document: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." U. S. Const., Amdt. 10; see also Printz, supra, at 919; New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 156 159, 177 (1992). The federal system established by our Constitution preserves the sovereign status of the States in two ways. First, it reserves to them a substantial portion of the Nation's primary sovereignty, together with the dignity and essential attributes inhering in that status. The States "form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere." The Federalist No. 39, p. 245 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (J. Madison). Second, even as to matters within the competence of the National Government, the constitutional design secures the founding generation's rejection of "the concept of a central government that would act upon and through the States" in favor of "a system in which the State and Federal Governments would exercise concurrent authority over the people who were, in Hamilton's words, `the only proper objects of government.'" Printz, supra, at 919-920 (quoting The Federalist No. 15, at 109); accord, New York, supra, at 166 ("The Framers explicitly chose a Constitution that confers upon Congress the power to regulate individuals, not States"). In this the Founders achieved a deliberate departure from the Articles of Confederation: Experience under the Articles had "exploded on all hands" the "practicality of making laws, with coercive sanctions, for the States as political bodies." 2 Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, p. 9 (M. Farrand ed. 1911) (J. Madison); accord, The Federalist No. 20, at 138 (J. Madison and A. Hamilton); James Iredell: Some *715 Objections to the Constitution Answered, reprinted in 3 Annals of America 249 (1976). The States thus retain "a residuary and inviolable sovereignty." The Federalist No. 39, at 245. They are not relegated to the role of mere provinces or political corporations, but retain the dignity, though not the full authority, of sovereignty. BThe generation that designed and adopted our federal system considered immunity from private suits central to sovereign dignity. When the Constitution was ratified, it was well established in English law that the Crown could not be sued without consent in its own courts. See Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419, 437-446 (1793) (Iredell, J., dissenting) (surveying English practice); cf. Nevada v. Hall, 440 U. S. 410, 414 (1979) ("The immunity of a truly independent sovereign from suit in its own courts has been enjoyed as a matter of absolute right for centuries. Only the sovereign's own consent could qualify the absolute character of that immunity"). In reciting the prerogatives of the Crown, Blackstonewhose works constituted the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generationunderscored the close and necessary relationship understood to exist between sovereignty and immunity from suit: "And, first, the law ascribes to the king the attribute of sovereignty, or pre-eminence. . . . Hence it is, that no suit or action can be brought against the king, even in civil matters, because no court can have jurisdiction over him. For all jurisdiction implies superiority of power . . . ." 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 234-235 (1765).Although the American people had rejected other aspects of English political theory, the doctrine that a sovereign could not be sued without its consent was universal in the *716 States when the Constitution was drafted and ratified. See Chisholm, supra, at 434-435 (Iredell, J., dissenting) ("I believe there is no doubt that neither in the State now in question, nor in any other in the Union, any particular Legislative mode, authorizing a compulsory suit for the recovery of money against a State, was in being either when the Constitution was adopted, or at the time the judicial act was passed"); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U. S. 1, 16 (1890) ("The suability of a State, without its consent, was a thing unknown to the law. This has been so often laid down and acknowledged by courts and jurists that it is hardly necessary to be formally asserted"). The ratification debates, furthermore, underscored the importance of the States' sovereign immunity to the American people. Grave concerns were raised by the provisions of Article III, which extended the federal judicial power to controversies between States and citizens of other States or foreign nations. As we have explained:

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"Unquestionably the doctrine of sovereign immunity was a matter of importance in the early days of independence. Many of the States were heavily indebted as a result of the Revolutionary War. They were vitally interested in the question whether the creation of a new federal sovereign, with courts of its own, would automatically subject them, like lower English lords, to suits in the courts of the `higher' sovereign." Hall, supra, at 418 (footnote omitted).The leading advocates of the Constitution assured the people in no uncertain terms that the Constitution would not strip the States of sovereign immunity. One assurance was contained in The Federalist No. 81, written by Alexander Hamilton: "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 *717 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 and the danger intimated must be merely ideal. . . . [T]here is no color to pretend that the State governments would, by the adoption of that plan, be divested of the privilege of paying their own debts in their own way, free from every constraint but that which flows from the obligations of good faith. The contracts between a nation and individuals are only binding on the conscience of the sovereign, and have no pretensions to a compulsive force. They confer no right of action independent of the sovereign will. To what purpose would it be to authorize suits against States for the debts they owe? How could recoveries be enforced? It is evident that it could not be done without waging war against the contracting State; and to ascribe to the federal courts, by mere implication, and in destruction of a preexisting right of the State governments, a power which would involve such a consequence, would be altogether forced and unwarrantable." Id., at 487-488 (emphasis in original).At the Virginia ratifying convention, James Madison echoed this theme: "Its jurisdiction in controversies between a state and citizens of another state is much objected to, and perhaps without reason. It is not in the power of individuals to call any state into court. . . .". . . It appears to me that this [clause] can have no operation but thisto give a citizen a right to be heard in the federal courts; and if a state should condescend to be a party, this court may take cognizance of it." 3 Debates on the Federal Constitution 533 (J. Elliot 2d ed. 1854) (hereinafter Elliot's Debates).*718 When Madison's explanation was questioned, John Marshall provided immediate support: "With respect to disputes between a state and the cit- izens of another state, its jurisdiction has been decried with unusual vehemence. I hope no gentleman will think that a state will be called at the bar of the federal court. Is there no such case at present? Are there not many cases in which the legislature of Virginia is a party, and yet the state is not sued? It is not rational to suppose that the sovereign power should be dragged before a court. The intent is, to enable states to recover claims of individuals residing in other states. I contend this construction is warranted by the words. But, say they, there will be partiality in it if a state cannot be defendant . . . . It is necessary to be so, and cannot be avoided. I see a difficulty in making a state defendant, which does not prevent its being plaintiff." 3 id., at 555-556 (emphasis in original).Although the state conventions which addressed the issue of sovereign immunity in their formal ratification documents sought to clarify the point by constitutional amendment, they made clear that they, like Hamilton, Madison, and Marshall, understood the Constitution as drafted to preserve the States' immunity from private suits. The Rhode Island Convention thus proclaimed that "[i]t is declared by the Convention, that the judicial power of the United States, in cases in which a state may be a party, does not extend to criminal prosecutions, or to authorize any suit by any person against a state." 1 id., at 336. The convention sought, in addition, an express amendment "to remove all doubts or controversies respecting the same." Ibid. In a similar fashion, the New York Convention "declare[d] and ma[d]e known," 1 id., at 327, its understanding "[t]hat the judicial power of the United States, in cases in which a state may be a party, does not extend to criminal prosecutions, or to authorize any suit *719 by any person against a state," 1 id., at 329. The convention proceeded to ratify the Constitution "[u]nder these impressions, and declaring that the rights aforesaid cannot be abridged or violated, and that the explanations aforesaid are consistent with the said Constitution, and in confidence that the amendments which shall have been proposed to the said Constitution will receive an early and mature consideration." Ibid. Despite the persuasive assurances of the Constitution's leading advocates and the expressed understanding of the only state conventions to address the issue in explicit terms, this Court held, just five years after the Constitution was adopted, that Article III authorized a private citizen of another State to sue the State of Georgia without its consent. Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419 (1793). Each of the four Justices who concurred in the judgment issued a separate opinion. The common theme of the opinions was that the case fell within the literal text of Article III, which by its terms granted jurisdiction over controversies "between a State and Citizens of another State," and "between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens, or Subjects." U. S. Const., Art. III, 2. The argument that this provision granted jurisdiction only over cases in which the State was a plaintiff was dismissed as inconsistent with the ordinary meaning of "between," and with the provision extending jurisdiction to "Controversies between two or more States," which by necessity contemplated jurisdiction over suits to which States were defendants. Two Justices also argued that sovereign immunity was inconsistent with the principle of popular sovereignty established by the Constitution, 2 Dall., at 454-458 (Wilson, J.); id., at 470-472 (Jay, C. J.); although the others did not go so far, they contended that the text of Article III evidenced the States' surrender of sovereign immunity as to those provisions extending jurisdiction over suits to which States were parties, id., at 452 (Blair, J.); id., at 468 (Cushing, J.). *720 Justice Iredell dissented, relying on American history, id., at 434-435, English history, id., at 437-446, and the principles of enumerated powers and separate sovereignty, id., at 435-436, 448, 449-450. See generally Hans, 134 U. S., at 12 ("The other justices were more swayed by a close observance of the letter of the Constitution, without regard to former experience and usage . . . . Justice Iredell, on the contrary, contended that it was not the intention to create new and unheard of remedies, by subjecting sovereign States to actions at the suit of individuals, (which he conclusively showed was never done before,) but only . . . to invest the federal courts with jurisdiction to hear and determine controversies and cases, between the parties designated, that were properly susceptible of litigation in courts"). The Court's decision "fell upon the country with a profound shock." 1 C. Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History 96 (rev. ed. 1926); accord, Hans, supra, at 11; Principality of Monaco v. Mississippi, 292 U. S. 313, 325 (1934); Seminole Tribe, 517 U. S., at 69. "Newspapers representing a rainbow of opinion protested what they viewed as an unexpected blow to state sovereignty. Others spoke more concretely of prospective raids on state treasuries." D. Currie, The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period 1789-1801, p. 196 (1997). The States, in particular, responded with outrage to the decision. The Massachusetts Legislature, for example, denounced the decision as "repugnant to the first principles of a federal government," and called upon the Commonwealth's Senators and Representatives to take all necessary steps to "remove any clause or article of the . . . Constitution, which can be construed to imply or justify a decision, that, a State is compellable to answer in any suit by an individual or individuals in any Court of the United States." 15 Papers of Alexander Hamilton 314 (H. Syrett & J. Cooke eds. 1969) (internal quotation marks omitted). Georgia's response was more intemperate: Its House of Representatives passed a bill *721 providing that anyone attempting to enforce the Chisholm decision would be "`guilty of felony and shall suffer death, without benefit of clergy, by being hanged.'" Currie, supra, at 196.

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An initial proposal to amend the Constitution was introduced in the House of Representatives the day after Chisholm was announced; the proposal adopted as the Eleventh Amendment was introduced in the Senate promptly following an intervening recess. Currie, supra, at 196. Congress turned to the latter proposal with great dispatch; little more than two months after its introduction it had been endorsed by both Houses and forwarded to the States. 4 Annals of Congress 25, 30, 477, 499 (1794); 1 Stat. 402. Each House spent but a single day discussing the Amendment, and the vote in each House was close to unanimous. See 4 Annals of Congress, at 30-31, 476-478 (the Senate divided 23 to 2; the House 81 to 9). All attempts to weaken the Amendment were defeated. Congress in succession rejected proposals to limit the Amendment to suits in which "`the cause of action shall have arisen before the ratification of the amendment,'" or even to cases "`where such State shall have previously made provision in their own Courts, whereby such suit may be prosecuted to effect'"; it refused as well to make an exception for "`cases arising under treaties made under the authority of the United States.'" 4 id., at 30, 476. It might be argued that the Chisholm decision was a correct interpretation of the constitutional design and that the Eleventh Amendment represented a deviation from the original understanding. This, however, seems unsupportable. First, despite the opinion of Justice Iredell, the majority failed to address either the practice or the understanding that prevailed in the States at the time the Constitution was adopted. Second, even a casual reading of the opinions suggests the majority suspected the decision would be unpopular and surprising. See, e. g., 2 Dall., at 454-455 (Wilson, J.) *722 (condemning the prevailing conception of sovereignty); id., at 468 (Cushing, J.) ("If the Constitution is found inconvenient in practice in this or any other particular, it is well that a regular mode is pointed out for amendment"); id., at 478479 (Jay, C. J.) ("[T]here is reason to hope that the people of [Georgia] will yet perceive that [sovereign immunity] would not have been consistent with [republican] equality"); cf. id., at 419-420 (attorney for Chisholm) ("I did not want the remonstrance of Georgia, to satisfy me, that the motion, which I have made is unpopular. Before that remonstrance was read, I had learnt from the acts of another State, whose will must be always dear to me, that she too condemned it"). Finally, two Members of the majority acknowledged that the United States might well remain immune from suit despite Article III's grant of jurisdiction over "Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party," see id., at 469 (Cushing, J.); id., at 478 (Jay, C. J.), and, invoking the example of actions to collect debts incurred before the Constitution was adopted, one raised the possibility of "exceptions," suggesting the rule of the case might not "extend to all the demands, and to every kind of action," id., at 479 (Jay, C. J.). These concessions undercut the crucial premise that either the Constitution's literal text or the principle of popular sovereignty necessarily overrode widespread practice and opinion. The text and history of the Eleventh Amendment also suggest that Congress acted not to change but to restore the original constitutional design. Although earlier drafts of the Amendment had been phrased as express limits on the judicial power granted in Article III, see, e. g., 3 Annals of Congress 651-652 (1793) ("The Judicial Power of the United States shall not extend to any suits in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States . . ."), the adopted text addressed the proper interpretation of that provision of the original Constitution, see U. S. Const., Amdt. 11 ("The Judicial power of the United States shall not *723 be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States . . ."). By its terms, then, the Eleventh Amendment did not redefine the federal judicial power but instead overruled the Court: "This amendment, expressing the will of the ultimate sovereignty of the whole country, superior to all legislatures and all courts, actually reversed the decision of the Supreme Court. It did not in terms prohibit suits by individuals against the States, but declared that the Constitution should not be construed to import any power to authorize the bringing of such suits. . . . The Supreme Court had construed the judicial power as extending to such a suit, and its decision was thus overruled." Hans, 134 U. S., at 11.The text reflects the historical context and the congressional objective in endorsing the Amendment for ratification. Congress chose not to enact language codifying the traditional understanding of sovereign immunity but rather to address the specific provisions of the Constitution that had raised concerns during the ratification debates and formed the basis of the Chisholm decision. Cf. 15 Papers of Alexander Hamilton, at 314 (quoted supra, at 720). Given the outraged reaction to Chisholm, as well as Congress' repeated refusal to otherwise qualify the text of the Amendment, it is doubtful that if Congress meant to write a new immunity into the Constitution it would have limited that immunity to the narrow text of the Eleventh Amendment: "Can we suppose that, when the Eleventh Amendment was adopted, it was understood to be left open for citizens of a State to sue their own state in the federal courts, whilst the idea of suits by citizens of other states, or of foreign states, was indignantly repelled? Suppose that Congress, when proposing the Eleventh Amendment, had appended to it a proviso that nothing therein *724 contained should prevent a State from being sued by its own citizens in cases arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States: can we imagine that it would have been adopted by the States? The supposition that it would is almost an absurdity on its face." Hans, supra, at 14-15.The more natural inference is that the Constitution was understood, in light of its history and structure, to preserve the States' traditional immunity from private suits. As the Amendment clarified the only provisions of the Constitution that anyone had suggested might support a contrary understanding, there was no reason to draft with a broader brush. Finally, the swiftness and near unanimity with which the Eleventh Amendment was adopted suggest "either that the Court had not captured the original understanding, or that the country had changed its collective mind most rapidly." D. Currie, The Constitution in the Supreme Court: The First Hundred Years: 1789-1888, p. 18, n. 101 (1985). The more reasonable interpretation, of course, is that regardless of the views of four Justices in Chisholm, the country as a whole which had adopted the Constitution just five years earlier had not understood the document to strip the States of their immunity from private suits. Cf. Currie, The Constitution in Congress, at 196 ("It is plain that just about everybody in Congress agreed the Supreme Court had misread the Constitution").

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Although the dissent attempts to rewrite history to reflect a different original understanding, its evidence is unpersuasive. The handful of state statutory and constitutional provisions authorizing suits or petitions of right against States only confirms the prevalence of the traditional understanding that a State could not be sued in the absence of an express waiver, for if the understanding were otherwise, the provisions would have been unnecessary. The constitutional amendments proposed by the New York and Rhode Island Conventions undercut rather than support the dissent's view *725 of history, see supra, at 718-719, and the amendments proposed by the Virginia and North Carolina Conventions do not cast light upon the original understanding of the States' immunity to suit. It is true that, in the course of all but eliminating federal-question and diversity jurisdiction, see 3 Elliot's Debates 660-661 (amendment proposed by the Virginia Convention limiting the federal-question jurisdiction to suits arising under treaties and the diversity jurisdiction to suits between parties claiming lands under grants from different States); 4 id., at 246 (identical amendment proposed by the North Carolina Convention), the amendments would have removed the language in the Constitution relied upon by the Chisholm Court. While the amendments do reflect dissatisfaction with the scope of federal jurisdiction as a general matter, there is no evidence that they were directed toward the question of sovereign immunity or that they reflect an understanding that the States would be subject to private suits without consent under Article III as drafted. The dissent's remaining evidence cannot bear the weight the dissent seeks to place on it. The views voiced during the ratification debates by Edmund Randolph and James Wilson, when reiterated by the same individuals in their respective capacities as advocate and Justice in Chisholm, were decisively rejected by the Eleventh Amendment, and General Pinkney did not speak to the issue of sovereign immunity at all. Furthermore, Randolph appears to have recognized that his views were in tension with the traditional understanding of sovereign immunity, see 3 Elliot's Debates 573 ("I think, whatever the law of nations may say, that any doubt respecting the construction that a state may be plaintiff, and not defendant, is taken away by the words where a state shall be a party"), and Wilson and Pinkney expressed a radical nationalist vision of the constitutional design that not only deviated from the views that prevailed at the time but, despite the dissent's apparent embrace of the position, remains startling even today, see post, at 776 *726 (quoting with approval Wilson's statement that "`the government of each state ought to be subordinate to the government of the United States' "). Nor do the controversial early suits prosecuted against Maryland and New York reflect a widespread understanding that the States had surrendered their immunity to suit. Maryland's decision to submit to process in Vanstophorst v. Maryland, 2 Dall. 401 (1791), aroused great controversy, see Marcus & Wexler, Suits Against States: Diversity of Opinion in the 1790s, 1993 J. Sup. Ct. History 73, 74-75, and did not go unnoticed by the Supreme Court, see Chisholm, 2 Dall., at 429-430 (Iredell, J., dissenting). In Oswald v. New York, the State refused to respond to the plaintiff's summons until after the decision in Chisholm had been announced; even then it at first asserted the defense that it was "a free, sovereign and independent State," and could not be "drawn or compelled" to defend the suit. Marcus & Wexler, supra, at 76-77 (internal quotation marks omitted). And, though the Court's decision in Chisholm may have had "champions `every bit as vigorous in defending their interpretation of the Constitution as were those partisans on the other side of the issue,' " post, at 794, the vote on the Eleventh Amendment makes clear that they were decidedly less numerous. See supra, at 721. In short, the scanty and equivocal evidence offered by the dissent establishes no more than what is evident from the decision in Chisholm that some members of the founding generation disagreed with Hamilton, Madison, Marshall, Iredell, and the only state conventions formally to address the matter. The events leading to the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment, however, make clear that the individuals who believed the Constitution stripped the States of their immunity from suit were at most a small minority. Not only do the ratification debates and the events leading to the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment reveal the original understanding of the States' constitutional immunity from suit; they also underscore the importance of sovereign *727 immunity to the founding generation. Simply put, "The Constitution never would have been ratified if the States and their courts were to be stripped of their sovereign authority except as expressly provided by the Constitution itself." Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U. S. 234, 239, n. 2 (1985); accord, Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U. S. 651, 660 (1974). CThe Court has been consistent in interpreting the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment as conclusive evidence "that the decision in Chisholm was contrary to the well-understood meaning of the Constitution," Seminole Tribe, 517 U. S., at 69, and that the views expressed by Hamilton, Madison, and Marshall during the ratification debates, and by Justice Iredell in his dissenting opinion in Chisholm, reflect the original understanding of the Constitution. See, e. g., Hans, 134 U. S., at 12, 14-15, 18-19; Principality of Monaco, 292 U. S., at 325; Edelman, supra, at 660, n. 9; Seminole Tribe, supra, at 70, and nn. 12-13. In accordance with this understanding, we have recognized a "presumption that no anomalous and unheard-of proceedings or suits were intended to be raised up by the Constitutionanomalous and unheard of when the constitution was adopted." Hans, 134 U. S., at 18; accord, id., at 15. As a consequence, we have looked to "history and experience, and the established order of things," id., at 14, rather than "[a]dhering to the mere letter" of the Eleventh Amendment, id., at 13, in determining the scope of the States' constitutional immunity from suit. Following this approach, the Court has upheld States' assertions of sovereign immunity in various contexts falling outside the literal text of the Eleventh Amendment. In Hans, the Court held that sovereign immunity barred a citizen from suing his own State under the federal-question head of jurisdiction. The Court was unmoved by the petitioner's argument that the Eleventh Amendment, by its *728 terms, applied only to suits brought by citizens of other States: "It seems to us that these views of those great advocates and defenders of the Constitution were most sensible and just; and they apply equally to the present case as to that then under discussion. The letter is appealed to now, as it was then, as a ground for sustaining a suit brought by an individual against a State. The reason against it is as strong in this case as it was in that. It is an attempt to strain the Constitution and the law to a construction never imagined or dreamed of." Id., at 14-15.Later decisions rejected similar requests to conform the principle of sovereign immunity to the strict language of the Eleventh Amendment in holding that nonconsenting States are immune from suits brought by federal corporations, Smith v. Reeves, 178 U. S. 436 (1900), foreign nations, Principality of Monaco, supra, or Indian tribes, Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U. S. 775 (1991), and in concluding that sovereign immunity is a defense to suits in admiralty, though the text of the Eleventh Amendment addresses only suits "in law or equity," Ex parte New York, 256 U. S. 490 (1921). These holdings reflect a settled doctrinal understanding, consistent with the views of the leading advocates of the Constitution's ratification, that sovereign immunity derives not from the Eleventh Amendment but from the structure of the original Constitution itself. See, e. g., Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U. S. 261, 267-268 (1997) (acknowledging "the broader concept of immunity, implicit in the Constitution, which we have regarded the Eleventh Amendment as evidencing and exemplifying"); Seminole Tribe, supra, at 55-56; Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U. S. 89, 98-99 (1984); Ex parte New York, supra, at 497. The Eleventh Amendment confirmed, rather *729 than established, sovereign immunity as a constitutional principle; it follows that the scope of the States' immunity from suit is demarcated not by the text of the Amendment alone but by fundamental postulates implicit in the constitutional design. As we explained in Principality of Monaco:

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"Manifestly, we cannot rest with a mere literal application of the words of 2 of Article III, or assume that the letter of the Eleventh Amendment exhausts the restrictions upon suits against non-consenting States. Behind the words of the constitutional provisions are postulates which limit and control. There is the essential postulate that the controversies, as contemplated, shall be found to be of a justiciable character. There is also the postulate that States of the Union, still possessing attributes of sovereignty, shall be immune from suits, without their consent, save where there has been `a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the convention.' " 292 U. S., at 322-323 (quoting The Federalist No. 81 (footnote omitted).Or, as we have more recently reaffirmed: "Although the text of the Amendment would appear to restrict only the Article III diversity jurisdiction of the federal courts, `we have understood the Eleventh Amendment to stand not so much for what it says, but for the presupposition . . . which it confirms.' Blatch- ford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U. S. 775, 779 (1991). That presupposition, first observed over a century ago in Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U. S. 1 (1890), has two parts: first, that each State is a sovereign entity in our federal system; and second, that ` "[i]t is inherent in the nature of sovereignty not to be amenable to the suit of an individual without its consent,"` id., at 13 (emphasis deleted), quoting The Federalist No. 81, p. 487 . . . ." Seminole Tribe, supra, at 54.*730 Accord, Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U. S. 139, 146 (1993) ("The Amendment is rooted in a recognition that the States, although a union, maintain certain attributes of sovereignty, including sovereign immunity"). IIIn this case we must determine whether Congress has the power, under Article I, to subject nonconsenting States to private suits in their own courts. As the foregoing discussion makes clear, the fact that the Eleventh Amendment by its terms limits only "[t]he Judicial power of the United States" does not resolve the question. To rest on the words of the Amendment alone would be to engage in the type of ahistorical literalism we have rejected in interpreting the scope of the States' sovereign immunity since the discredited decision in Chisholm Seminole Tribe, 517 U. S., at 68; see also id., at 69 (quoting Principality of Monaco, supra, at 326, in turn quoting Hans, 134 U. S., at 15) ("[W]e long have recognized that blind reliance upon the text of the Eleventh Amendment is ` "to strain the Constitution and the law to a construction never imagined or dreamed of"` "). While the constitutional principle of sovereign immunity does pose a bar to federal jurisdiction over suits against nonconsenting States, see, e. g., Principality of Monaco, 292 U. S., at 322-323, this is not the only structural basis of sovereign immunity implicit in the constitutional design. Rather, "[t]here is also the postulate that States of the Union, still possessing attributes of sovereignty, shall be immune from suits, without their consent, save where there has been `a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the convention.' " Ibid. (quoting The Federalist No. 81; accord, Blatchford, supra, at 781; Seminole Tribe, supra, at 68. This separate and distinct structural principle is not directly related to the scope of the judicial power established by Article III, but inheres in the system of federalism established by the Constitution. In exercising its Article I powers Congress *731 may subject the States to private suits in their own courts only if there is "compelling evidence" that the States were required to surrender this power to Congress pursuant to the constitutional design. Blatchford, 501 U. S., at 781. APetitioners contend the text of the Constitution and our recent sovereign immunity decisions establish that the States were required to relinquish this portion of their sovereignty. We turn first to these sources. 1Article I, 8, grants, Congress broad power to enact legislation in several enumerated areas of national concern. The Supremacy Clause, furthermore, provides: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . , shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." U. S. Const., Art. VI.It is contended that, by virtue of these provisions, where Congress enacts legislation subjecting the States to suit, the legislation by necessity overrides the sovereign immunity of the States.

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As is evident from its text, however, the Supremacy Clause enshrines as "the supreme Law of the Land" only those Federal Acts that accord with the constitutional design. See Printz, 521 U. S., at 924. Appeal to the Supremacy Clause alone merely raises the question whether a law is a valid exercise of the national power. See The Federalist No. 33, at 204 (A. Hamilton) ("But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the larger society which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land"); Printz, supra, at 924-925. *732 The Constitution, by delegating to Congress the power to establish the supreme law of the land when acting within its enumerated powers, does not foreclose a State from asserting immunity to claims arising under federal law merely because that law derives not from the State itself but from the national power. A contrary view could not be reconciled with Hans, supra, which sustained Louisiana's immunity in a private suit arising under the Constitution itself; with Employees of Dept. of Public Health and Welfare of Mo. v. Department of Public Health and Welfare of Mo., 411 U. S. 279, 283 (1973), which recognized that the FLSA was binding upon Missouri but nevertheless upheld the State's immunity to a private suit to recover under that Act; or with numerous other decisions to the same effect. We reject any contention that substantive federal law by its own force necessarily overrides the sovereign immunity of the States. When a State asserts its immunity to suit, the question is not the primacy of federal law but the implementation of the law in a manner consistent with the constitutional sovereignty of the States. Nor can we conclude that the specific Article I powers delegated to Congress necessarily include, by virtue of the Necessary and Proper Clause or otherwise, the incidental authority to subject the States to private suits as a means of achieving objectives otherwise within the scope of the enumerated powers. Although some of our decisions had endorsed this contention, see Parden v. Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept., 377 U. S. 184, 190-194 (1964); Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U. S. 1, 13-23 (1989) (plurality opinion), they have since been overruled, see Seminole Tribe, supra, at 63-67, 72; College Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd., ante, at 680. As we have recognized in an analogous context: "When a `La[w] . . . for carrying into Execution' the Commerce Clause violates the principle of state sovereignty reflected in the various constitutional *733 provisions . . . it is not a `La[w] . . . proper for carrying into Execution the Commerce Clause,' and is thus, in the words of The Federalist, `merely [an] ac[t] of usurpation' which `deserve[s] to be treated as such.'" Printz, supra, at 923-924 (quoting The Federalist No. 33, at 204) (ellipses and alterations in Printz).The cases we have cited, of course, came at last to the conclusion that neither the Supremacy Clause nor the enumerated powers of Congress confer authority to abrogate the States' immunity from suit in federal court. The logic of the decisions, however, does not turn on the forum in which the suits were prosecuted but extends to state-court suits as well. The dissenting opinion seeks to reopen these precedents, contending that state sovereign immunity must derive either from the common law (in which case the dissent contends it is defeasible by statute) or from natural law (in which case the dissent believes it cannot bar a federal claim). See post, at 797-798. As should be obvious to all, this is a false dichotomy. The text and the structure of the Constitution protect various rights and principles. Many of these, such as the right to trial by jury and the prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, derive from the common law. The common-law lineage of these rights does not mean they are defeasible by statute or remain mere common-law rights, however. They are, rather, constitutional rights, and form the fundamental law of the land. Although the sovereign immunity of the States derives at least in part from the common-law tradition, the structure and history of the Constitution make clear that the immunity exists today by constitutional design. The dissent has provided no persuasive evidence that the founding generation regarded the States' sovereign immunity as defeasible by federal statute. While the dissent implies this view was held by Madison and Marshall, see post, at 778, nothing in the comments made by either individual at the ratification *734 conventions states, or even implies, such an understanding. Although the dissent seizes upon Justice Iredell's statutory analysis in Chisholm in an attempt to attribute this view to Justice Iredell, see post, at 787-789, citing Chisholm, 2 Dall., at 449, Justice Iredell's views on the underlying constitutional question are clear enough from other portions of his dissenting opinion: "So much, however, has been said on the Constitution, that it may not be improper to intimate that my present opinion is strongly against any construction of it, which will admit, under any circumstances, a compulsive suit against a State for the recovery of money. I think every word in the Constitution may have its full effect without involving this consequence, and that nothing but express words, or an insurmountable implication (neither of which I consider, can be found in this case) would authorize the deduction of so high a power." Id., at 449-450.Despite the dissent's assertion to the contrary, the fact that a right is not defeasible by statute means only that it is protected by the Constitution, not that it derives from natural law. Whether the dissent's attribution of our reasoning and conclusions to natural law results from analytical confusion or rhetorical device, it is simply inaccurate. We do not contend the Founders could not have stripped the States of sovereign immunity and granted Congress power to subject them to private suit but only that they did not do so. By the same token, the contours of sovereign immunity are determined by the Founders' understanding, not by the principles or limitations derived from natural law. The dissent has offered no evidence that the Founders believed sovereign immunity extended only to cases where the sovereign was the source of the right asserted. No such limitation existed on sovereign immunity in England, where sovereign immunity was predicated on a different theory altogether. *735 See 1 F. Pollock & F. Maitland, History of English Law 518 (2d ed. 1909), quoted in Nevada v. Hall, 440 U. S., at 415, n. 6 ("`[The King] can not be compelled to answer in his own court, but this is true of every petty lord of every petty manor' "); accord, 3 W. Holdsworth, A History of English Law 465 (3d ed. 1927) ("[N]o feudal lord could be sued in his own court"). It is doubtful whether the King was regarded, in any meaningful sense, as the font of the traditions and customs which formed the substance of the common law, yet he could not be sued on a common-law claim in his own courts. And it strains credibility to imagine that the King could have been sued in his own court on, say, a French cause of action.

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In light of the ratification debates and the history of the Eleventh Amendment, there is no reason to believe the Founders intended the Constitution to preserve a more restricted immunity in the United States. On the contrary, Congress' refusal to modify the text of the Eleventh Amendment to create an exception to sovereign immunity for cases arising under treaties, see supra, at 721, suggests the States' sovereign immunity was understood to extend beyond statelaw causes of action. And surely the dissent does not believe that sovereign immunity poses no bar to a state-law suit against the United States in federal court, or that the Federal Tort Claims Act effected a contraction, rather than an expansion, of the United States' amenability to suit. 2There are isolated statements in some of our cases suggesting that the Eleventh Amendment is inapplicable in state courts. See Hilton v. South Carolina Public Railways Comm'n, 502 U. S. 197, 204-205 (1991); Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U. S. 58, 63 (1989); Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U. S., at 239-240, n. 2; Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U. S. 1, 9, n. 7 (1980); Hall, supra, at 418-421. This, of course, is a truism as to the literal terms of *736 the Eleventh Amendment. As we have explained, however, the bare text of the Amendment is not an exhaustive description of the States' constitutional immunity from suit. The cases, furthermore, do not decide the question presented herewhether the States retain immunity from private suits in their own courts notwithstanding an attempted abrogation by the Congress. Two of the cases discussing state-court immunity may be dismissed out of hand. The footnote digressions in Atascadero State Hospital and Thiboutot were irrelevant to either opinion's holding or rationale. The discussion in Will was also unnecessary to the decision; our holding that 42 U. S. C. 1983 did not create a cause of action against the States rendered it unnecessary to determine the scope of the States' constitutional immunity from suit in their own courts. Our opinions in Hilton and Hall, however, require closer attention, for in those cases we sustained suits against States in state courts. In Hilton we held that an injured employee of a stateowned railroad could sue his employer (an arm of the State) in state court under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 53 Stat. 1404, 45 U. S. C. 51-60. Our decision was "controlled and informed" by stare decisis. 502 U. S., at 201. A generation earlier we had held that because the FELA made clear that all who operated railroads would be subject to suit by injured workers, States that chose to enter the railroad business after the statute's enactment impliedly waived their sovereign immunity from such suits. See Parden v. Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept., 377 U. S. 184 (1964). Some States had excluded railroad workers from the coverage of their workers' compensation statutes on the assumption that the FELA provided adequate protection for those workers. Hilton, 502 U. S., at 202. Closing the courts to FELA suits against state employers would have dislodged settled expectations and required an extensive legislative response. Ibid. *737 There is language in Hilton which gives some support to the position of petitioners here but our decision did not squarely address, much less resolve, the question of Congress' power to abrogate States' immunity from suit in their own courts. The respondent in Hilton, the South Carolina Public Railways Commission, neither contested Congress' constitutional authority to subject it to suits for money damages nor raised sovereign immunity as an affirmative defense. See Brief for Respondent in No. 90-848, O. T. 1991, pp. 7, n. 14, 21. Nor was the State's litigation strategy surprising. Hilton was litigated and decided in the wake of Union Gas, and before this Court's decisions in New York, Printz, and Seminole Tribe. At that time it may have appeared to the State that Congress' power to abrogate its immunity from suit in any court was not limited by the Constitution at all, so long as Congress made its intent sufficiently clear. Furthermore, our decision in Parden was based on concepts of waiver and consent. Although later decisions have undermined the basis of Parden`s reasoning, see, e. g., Welch v. Texas Dept. of Highways and Public Transp., 483 U. S. 468, 476-478 (1987) (recognizing that Parden erred in finding a clear congressional intent to subject the States to suit); College Savings Bank, ante, at 680 (overruling Parden`s theory of constructive waiver), we have not questioned the general proposition that a State may waive its sovereign immunity and consent to suit, see Seminole Tribe, 517 U. S., at 65. Hilton, then, must be read in light of the doctrinal basis of Parden, the issues presented and argued by the parties, and the substantial reliance interests drawn into question by the litigation. When so read, we believe the decision is best understood not as recognizing a congressional power to subject nonconsenting States to private suits in their own courts, nor even as endorsing the constructive waiver theory of Parden, but as simply adhering, as a matter of stare decisis and presumed historical fact, to the narrow proposition *738 that certain States had consented to be sued by injured workers covered by the FELA, at least in their own courts.

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In Hall we considered whether California could subject Nevada to suit in California's courts and determined the Constitution did not bar it from doing so. We noted that "[t]he doctrine of sovereign immunity is an amalgam of two quite different concepts, one applicable to suits in the sovereign's own courts and the other to suits in the courts of another sovereign." 440 U. S., at 414. We acknowledged that "[t]he immunity of a truly independent sovereign from suit in its own courts has been enjoyed as a matter of absolute right for centuries. Only the sovereign's own consent could qualify the absolute character of that immunity," ibid., that "the notion that immunity from suit is an attribute of sovereignty is reflected in our cases," id., at 415, and that "[t]his explanation adequately supports the conclusion that no sovereign may be sued in its own courts without its consent," id., at 416. We sharply distinguished, however, a sovereign's immunity from suit in the courts of another sovereign: "[B]ut [this explanation] affords no support for a claim of immunity in another sovereign's courts. Such a claim necessarily implicates the power and authority of a second sovereign; its source must be found either in an agreement, express or implied, between the two sovereigns, or in the voluntary decision of the second to respect the dignity of the first as a matter of comity." Ibid. Since we determined the Constitution did not reflect an agreement between the States to respect the sovereign immunity of one another, California was free to determine whether it would respect Nevada's sovereignty as a matter of comity. Our opinion in Hall did distinguish a State's immunity from suit in federal court from its immunity in the courts of *739 other States; it did not, however, address or consider any differences between a State's sovereign immunity in federal court and in its own courts. Our reluctance to find an implied constitutional limit on the power of the States cannot be construed, furthermore, to support an analogous reluctance to find implied constitutional limits on the power of the Federal Government. The Constitution, after all, treats the powers of the States differently from the powers of the Federal Government. As we explained in Hall: "[I]n view of the Tenth Amendment's reminder that powers not delegated to the Federal Government nor prohibited to the States are reserved to the States or to the people, the existence of express limitations on state sovereignty may equally imply that caution should be exercised before concluding that unstated limitations on state power were intended by the Framers." Id., at 425 (footnote omitted).The Federal Government, by contrast, "can claim no powers which are not granted to it by the constitution, and the powers actually granted must be such as are expressly given, or given by necessary implication." Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 1 Wheat. 304, 326 (1816); see also City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S. 507, 516 (1997); United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 552 (1995). Our decision in Hall thus does not support the argument urged by petitioners here. The decision addressed neither Congress' power to subject States to private suits nor the States' immunity from suit in their own courts. In fact, the distinction drawn between a sovereign's immunity in its own courts and its immunity in the courts of another sovereign, as well as the reasoning on which this distinction was based, are consistent with, and even support, the proposition urged by respondent herethat the Constitution reserves to the *740 States a constitutional immunity from private suits in their own courts which cannot be abrogated by Congress. Petitioners seek support in two additional decisions. In Reich v. Collins, 513 U. S. 106 (1994), we held that, despite its immunity from suit in federal court, a State which holds out what plainly appears to be "a clear and certain" postdeprivation remedy for taxes collected in violation of federal law may not declare, after disputed taxes have been paid in reliance on this remedy, that the remedy does not in fact exist. Id., at 108. This case arose in the context of taxrefund litigation, where a State may deprive a taxpayer of all other means of challenging the validity of its tax laws by holding out what appears to be a "clear and certain" postdeprivation remedy. Ibid.; see also Fair Assessment in Real Estate Assn., Inc. v. McNary, 454 U. S. 100 (1981). In this context, due process requires the State to provide the remedy it has promised. Cf. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U. S. 517, 539 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring). The obligation arises from the Constitution itself; Reich does not speak to the power of Congress to subject States to suits in their own courts. In Howlett v. Rose, 496 U. S. 356 (1990), we held that a state court could not refuse to hear a 1983 suit against a school board on the basis of sovereign immunity. The school board was not an arm of the State, however, so it could not assert any constitutional defense of sovereign immunity to which the State would have been entitled. See Mt. Healthy City Bd. of Ed. v. Doyle, 429 U. S. 274, 280 (1977). In Howlett, then, the only question was "whether a state-law defense of `sovereign immunity' is available to a school board otherwise subject to suit in a Florida court even though such a defense would not be available if the action had been brought in a federal forum." 496 U. S., at 358-359. The decision did not address the question of Congress' power to compel a state court to entertain an action against a nonconsenting State.

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B*741 Whether Congress has authority under Article I to abrogate a State's immunity from suit in its own courts is, then, a question of first impression. In determining whether there is "compelling evidence" that this derogation of the States' sovereignty is "inherent in the constitutional compact," Blatchford, 501 U. S., at 781, we continue our discussion of history, practice, precedent, and the structure of the Constitution. 1We look first to evidence of the original understanding of the Constitution. Petitioners contend that because the ratification debates and the events surrounding the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment focused on the States' immunity from suit in federal courts, the historical record gives no instruction as to the founding generation's intent to preserve the States' immunity from suit in their own courts. We believe, however, that the Founders' silence is best explained by the simple fact that no one, not even the Constitution's most ardent opponents, suggested the document might strip the States of the immunity. In light of the overriding concern regarding the States' war-time debts, together with the well-known creativity, foresight, and vivid imagination of the Constitution's opponents, the silence is most instructive. It suggests the sovereign's right to assert immunity from suit in its own courts was a principle so well established that no one conceived it would be altered by the new Constitution. The arguments raised against the Constitution confirm this strong inference. In England, the rule was well established that "no lord could be sued by a vassal in his own court, but each petty lord was subject to suit in the courts of a higher lord." Hall, 440 U. S., at 414-415. It was argued that, by analogy, the States could be sued without consent in federal court. Id., at 418. The point of the argument *742 was that federal jurisdiction under Article III would circumvent the States' immunity from suit in their own courts. The argument would have made little sense if the States were understood to have relinquished the immunity in all events. The response the Constitution's advocates gave to the argument is also telling. Relying on custom and practice and, in particular, on the States' immunity from suit in their own courts, see 3 Elliot's Debates 555 (remarks of J. Marshall)they contended that no individual could sue a sovereign without its consent. It is true the point was directed toward the power of the Federal Judiciary, for that was the only question at issue. The logic of the argument, however, applies with even greater force in the context of a suit prosecuted against a sovereign in its own courts, for in this setting, more than any other, sovereign immunity was long established and unquestioned. See Hall, supra, at 414. Similarly, while the Eleventh Amendment by its terms addresses only "the Judicial power of the United States," nothing in Chisholm, the catalyst for the Amendment, suggested the States were not immune from suits in their own courts. The only Justice to address the issue, in fact, was explicit in distinguishing between sovereign immunity in federal court and in a State's own courts. See 2 Dall., at 452 (opinion of Blair, J.) ("When sovereigns are sued in their own Courts, such a method [a petition of right] may have been established as the most respectful form of demand; but we are not now in a State-Court; and if sovereignty be an exemption from suit in any other than the sovereign's own Courts, it follows that when a State, by adopting the Constitution, has agreed to be amenable to the judicial power of the United States, she has, in that respect, given up her right of sovereignty"). The language of the Eleventh Amendment, furthermore, was directed toward the only provisions of the constitutional text believed to call the States' immunity from private suits into question. Although Article III expressly contemplated *743 jurisdiction over suits between States and individuals, nothing in the Article or in any other part of the Constitution suggested the States could not assert immunity from private suit in their own courts or that Congress had the power to abrogate sovereign immunity there. Finally, the Congress which endorsed the Eleventh Amendment rejected language limiting the Amendment's scope to cases where the States had made available a remedy in their own courts. See supra, at 721. Implicit in the proposal, it is evident, was the premise that the States retained their immunity and the concomitant authority to decide whether to allow private suits against the sovereign in their own courts. In light of the language of the Constitution and the historical context, it is quite apparent why neither the ratification debates nor the language of the Eleventh Amendment addressed the States' immunity from suit in their own courts. The concerns voiced at the ratifying conventions, the furor raised by Chisholm, and the speed and unanimity with which the Amendment was adopted, moreover, underscore the jealous care with which the founding generation sought to preserve the sovereign immunity of the States. To read this history as permitting the inference that the Constitution stripped the States of immunity in their own courts and allowed Congress to subject them to suit there would turn on its head the concern of the founding generationthat Article III might be used to circumvent state-court immunity. In light of the historical record it is difficult to conceive that the Constitution would have been adopted if it had been understood to strip the States of immunity from suit in their own courts and cede to the Federal Government a power to subject nonconsenting States to private suits in these fora. 2Our historical analysis is supported by early congressional practice, which provides "contemporaneous and weighty evidence *744 of the Constitution's meaning." Printz, 521 U. S., at 905 (internal quotation marks omitted). Although early Congresses enacted various statutes authorizing federal suits in state court, see id., at 906-907 (listing statutes); Testa v. Katt, 330 U. S. 386, 389-390 (1947), we have discovered no instance in which they purported to authorize suits against nonconsenting States in these fora. The "numerousness of these statutes [authorizing suit in state court], contrasted with the utter lack of statutes" subjecting States to suit, "suggests an assumed absence of such power." 521 U. S., at 907-908. It thus appears early Congresses did not believe they had the power to authorize private suits against the States in their own courts. Not only were statutes purporting to authorize private suits against nonconsenting States in state courts not enacted by early Congresses; statutes purporting to authorize such suits in any forum are all but absent from our historical experience. The first statute we confronted that even arguably purported to subject the States to private actions was the FELA. See Parden, 377 U. S., at 187 ("Here, for the first time in this Court, a State's claim of immunity against suit by an individual meets a suit brought upon a cause of action expressly created by Congress"). As we later recognized, however, even this statute did not clearly create a cause of action against the States. See Welch, 483 U. S., at 476-478. The provisions of the FLSA at issue here, which were enacted in the aftermath of Parden, are among the first statutory enactments purporting in express terms to subject nonconsenting States to private suits. Although similar statutes have multiplied in the last generation, "they are of such recent vintage that they are no more probative than the [FLSA] of a constitu

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