1793: The Supreme Court and the Metaphysics of Sovereignty

in A Community Built on Words

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780226677231
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226677224 | DOI:
1793: The Supreme Court and the Metaphysics of Sovereignty

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Constitutional and Administrative Law


Show Summary Details


The Supreme Court's first great constitutional decision, indeed its first important decision of any sort, was also its first great misstep. On February 18, 1793, the Court held in Chisholm v. Georgia that Article III of the Constitution gave it jurisdiction over an action for damages brought against a state by a citizen of another state. The Court's decision provoked swift and decisive repudiation. Less than a year after the Court announced its judgment, Congress approved a constitutional amendment intended to overturn Chisholm, and within a year the necessary supermajority of states had concurred in Congress's proposal. In February 1798, five years after Chisholm, the Court took note of the eleventh amendment, and held that it eliminated the Court's jurisdiction over all actions against states, including those like Chisholm itself that were filed before the amendment's ratification. Chisholm's continuing significance is limited to the light it sheds on the amendment that overruled it, and indeed that is how the justices of the current Court, and most constitutional lawyers, understandably view it.

Keywords: Supreme Court; constitutional decision; jurisdiction; repudiation; constitutional amendment; Chisholm v. Georgia

Chapter.  3111 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.