Most state-supported institutions of higher education are considered to be arms of the state for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment. Consequently, an understanding of the Eleventh Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of it is particularly important for higher education attorneys, administrators, and legal scholars when confronted by the threat of litigation.

Essentially, “sovereign immunity of the states” means that private individuals or corporations cannot sue the states, state agencies, state institutions, or state officials in their official capacities. Therefore, if state colleges and universities are considered “arms of the state,” then both the entities and their administrators generally are immune from litigation. Yet, contrary to popular belief, sovereign immunity does not mean that the states may violate federal law, that federal law is inapplicable ...

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