Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, No. 17-14443 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the Fifth and Sixth Circuits, holding that Congress validly abrogated state sovereign immunity in the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The court explained that the VRA, as amended, clearly expresses an intent to allow private parties to sue the states. The court stated that the language in sections 2 and 3 of the VRA, read together, imposes direct liability on states for discrimination in voting and explicitly provides remedies to private parties to address violations under the statute.
Furthermore, both section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment and section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment, using identical language, authorize Congress to enforce their respective provisions by appropriate legislation. The court agreed with the Fifth and Sixth Circuits that if section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment permits Congress to abrogate state sovereign immunity, so too must section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Alabama's motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity grounds and held that Alabama is not immune from suit under the VRA.