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SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
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quo vadis Offline
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SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
Yesterday, the supreme court overruled a 1979 precedent that had said State X could be sued in State Y's courts. In the new decision, the court ruled that states have sovereign immunity versus each other: State X cannot by sued in State Y's courts, unless State X waives its immunity and allows itself to be.

I'm not a lawyer, but when Maryland left the ACC, the ACC sued Maryland in a North Carolina court, which was allowable under the 1979 precedent, and which surely put pressure on Maryland to settle.

Would that kind of lawsuit be allowed now under the new doctrine? If not, it could make it easier for schools that are public, and thus arms of their state's government, to leave conferences without worrying as much about legal ramifications in other state jurisdictions?

Or am i just way off base on this? Lawyers?
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 09:22 AM by quo vadis.)
05-14-2019 09:17 AM
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Attackcoog Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
Seems like Federal court would be the preferred venue for interstate disputes.
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 09:27 AM by Attackcoog.)
05-14-2019 09:25 AM
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ken d Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.
05-14-2019 10:00 AM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

I don't know if university vs state is important.

The key to me (a non-lawyer) is that Maryland had already agreed that it could be sued in North Carolina for this case.

Sovereign immunity does NOT mean a state/country can't be sued. It means that the state/country can not be sued WITHOUT ITS PERMISSION. Joining a conference means signing a contract that (I think) waives the state/university's right to sovereign immunity in lawsuits involving the conference.
05-14-2019 10:44 AM
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JRsec Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

This may be a loose thread in a tapestry. University Presidents are state employees. State employees are an extension of the State itself which is answerable to the voters and taxpayers of the state it serves.

This begs many questions. When is a state's taxpayers and legislators bound by a decision of a President of one of its Universities when that decision impacts apportionment and the State's budget, and therefore the taxpayers' obligations?

It also poses the question of when does a voluntary association, and that is what an athletic conference is, cease to become voluntary and becomes obligatory? And is the imposition of that obligation truly binding upon the legislators and taxpayers of a state?

When GOR's were first instituted this was my mainline of questioning their efficacy. Yes they worked fine for assigning the rights of artists, but state sponsored non profit sports teams? And I could see private schools being able to enter into them, but I could not see how ultimately the tail could wag the dog where taxpayers were concerned, especially over something that was supposed to operate like a non profit and with Title IX implications it was understood that revenue sports would cover non revenues. Therefore anything that constrains the schools revenue sports from bringing in everything they could, limits the opportunities of others and burdens the taxpayers.

It always seemed to me that each state's schools should be free to organize their sports in a manner that best suited the citizens of that state and that anything that bound them was a restraint on that states apportionment and a limit on its schools.

In fact the biggest beneficiaries of the current law is not a state, nor its citizens, but corporations (networks), and smaller less lucrative state schools which are bound to them contractually.

Nobody cared what athletic conference a school participated in until corporate money was involved and then the GOR's were to preserve rights contracts with those corporations, and then sometimes at the detriment of the taxpayers of some of the state schools.

People may not like it, but ultimately we may be headed back to networks having to sign a contract with each specific school. It's not a burden that University Presidents will relish which is probably why these points and others have not been pursued. It really has been a matter of if we are all earning more why rock the boat? But now that a revenue gap is growing, and will continue to grow, any state school not in the SEC or Big 10 is going to have leadership, alumni, and state legislators who are going to start taking a much closer look at the intricate legalities of these assigned rights and looking for a way out of them.

Schools are looking to cover declines in enrollment and are competing nationally for students. Sports profile is part of that lure. So enhancing sports profile actually affects the ability to draw those outside students. Contracts that limit a school's ability to maximize its sports revenue affects those profiles. A GOR that locks a school into an inferior position for over a decade, sometimes two, at a time when revenue may be passing peak, is going to be felt to be extremely punitive. So I would be looking for more and more challenges along these lines, and ultimately I expect the whole GOR apparatus to fail where state schools are concerned.

We'll see.
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 10:56 AM by JRsec.)
05-14-2019 10:52 AM
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CarlSmithCenter Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

Lawyer here. The University of Maryland is a public institution created by, and in essence an agency of, the State of Maryland so it is imbued with the same type of sovereign immunity as the State of Maryland itself (the case decided yesterday dealt with a suit where the Franchise Tax Board of California, a California state agency, was a named party to a lawsuit in Nevada state court; the State of California itself was not a party to the litigation in its own right). However, you are correct that even after this decision state agencies, including public universities like the University of Maryland, can waive the prohibition on being sued in the courts of other states by voluntarily contracting away that sovereign immunity.
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 11:06 AM by CarlSmithCenter.)
05-14-2019 11:02 AM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 09:25 AM)Attackcoog Wrote:  Seems like Federal court would be the preferred venue for interstate disputes.

But it hasn't been, e.g. the Maryland/ACC example. Maybe because there isn't a federal issue involved?
05-14-2019 11:24 AM
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stever20 Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
I think it's important to note that this is a real thing, and not a joke.
05-14-2019 11:26 AM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 11:02 AM)CarlSmithCenter Wrote:  However, you are correct that even after this decision state agencies, including public universities like the University of Maryland, can waive the prohibition on being sued in the courts of other states by voluntarily contracting away that sovereign immunity.

JR makes a good point though - how far up the food chain does this decision have to be made? I mean, it would seem rather strange that say the local manager of a branch of a state agency could expose an entire state to possibly hundreds of millions in damages by signing an agreement that waives such immunity for their agency. Any tiny agency that signs such a waiver is a possible vector for the entire state to be on the hook for enormous sums.

It hasn't been an issue in the past, but i suspect now that the 1979 rule is gone, state legislatures will impose internal rules that empower only administrators of a certain pay-grade or above to be able to waive immunity for an agency on behalf of the state, or else require that the legislature or governor or some high-level board signs off on any such agreements.
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 11:38 AM by quo vadis.)
05-14-2019 11:33 AM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 10:44 AM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

I don't know if university vs state is important.

The key to me (a non-lawyer) is that Maryland had already agreed that it could be sued in North Carolina for this case.

Did Maryland agree though? I wonder, why would the ACC contract or whatever have a clause whereby everyone agrees to be sued in North Carolina, when under the 1979 precedent no such agreement was necessary?
05-14-2019 11:35 AM
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The Cutter of Bish Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 11:33 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 11:02 AM)CarlSmithCenter Wrote:  However, you are correct that even after this decision state agencies, including public universities like the University of Maryland, can waive the prohibition on being sued in the courts of other states by voluntarily contracting away that sovereign immunity.

JR makes a good point though - how far up the food chain does this decision have to be made? I mean, it would seem rather strange that say the local manager of a branch of a state agency could expose an entire state to possibly hundreds of millions in damages by signing an agreement that waives such immunity for their agency. Any tiny agency that signs such a waiver is a possible vector for the entire state to be on the hook for enormous sums.

It hasn't been an issue in the past, but i suspect now that the 1979 rule is gone, state legislatures will impose internal rules that empower only administrators of a certain pay-grade or above to be able to waive immunity for an agency on behalf of the state, or else require that the legislature or governor or some high-level board signs off on any such agreements.

I have a hard time swallowing any state agency getting to waive such decisions without some formal approval of the state legislature or governor. And not a once and done thing, either. Any and every agreement where there is potential risk for such measures.

And to that point, I am looking at GoR’s and thinking...boy, wouldn’t that be a fun contract to breach now?
05-14-2019 01:07 PM
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XLance Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 09:25 AM)Attackcoog Wrote:  Seems like Federal court would be the preferred venue for interstate disputes.

Maryland (the school) entered into a contract in North Carolina (governed by North Carolina law).
05-14-2019 01:23 PM
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cubucks Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 11:26 AM)stever20 Wrote:  I think it's important to note that this is a real thing, and not a joke.
Lol, I was wondering if it was or not. Thanks for inserting that comment for us. Every post now I have to research and verify.
05-14-2019 01:31 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 01:07 PM)The Cutter of Bish Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 11:33 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 11:02 AM)CarlSmithCenter Wrote:  However, you are correct that even after this decision state agencies, including public universities like the University of Maryland, can waive the prohibition on being sued in the courts of other states by voluntarily contracting away that sovereign immunity.

JR makes a good point though - how far up the food chain does this decision have to be made? I mean, it would seem rather strange that say the local manager of a branch of a state agency could expose an entire state to possibly hundreds of millions in damages by signing an agreement that waives such immunity for their agency. Any tiny agency that signs such a waiver is a possible vector for the entire state to be on the hook for enormous sums.

It hasn't been an issue in the past, but i suspect now that the 1979 rule is gone, state legislatures will impose internal rules that empower only administrators of a certain pay-grade or above to be able to waive immunity for an agency on behalf of the state, or else require that the legislature or governor or some high-level board signs off on any such agreements.

I have a hard time swallowing any state agency getting to waive such decisions without some formal approval of the state legislature or governor. And not a once and done thing, either. Any and every agreement where there is potential risk for such measures.

And to that point, I am looking at GoR’s and thinking...boy, wouldn’t that be a fun contract to breach now?

Yes, this decision might create some wiggle room there. Or waggle room. 07-coffee3
05-14-2019 04:16 PM
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 10:44 AM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

I don't know if university vs state is important.

The key to me (a non-lawyer) is that Maryland had already agreed that it could be sued in North Carolina for this case.

Sovereign immunity does NOT mean a state/country can't be sued. It means that the state/country can not be sued WITHOUT ITS PERMISSION. Joining a conference means signing a contract that (I think) waives the state/university's right to sovereign immunity in lawsuits involving the conference.

U. of Maryland is run by the state board of Ed. If the states want to? They could challenge the NCAA and P5 for a chance to get a state school into the FBS playoffs. We have cases that G5 fans of schools outnumbered P5 fans of schools at bowl games. Like there was more Boise State fans than than Boston College fans.
Now, the ACC lawsuit against Maryland represents like 8 states against the state of Maryland. I would rule exit and enterence fees not allow anymore because it makes schools want to move at a disadvantage edge.
05-14-2019 07:29 PM
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 11:02 AM)CarlSmithCenter Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

Lawyer here. The University of Maryland is a public institution created by, and in essence an agency of, the State of Maryland so it is imbued with the same type of sovereign immunity as the State of Maryland itself (the case decided yesterday dealt with a suit where the Franchise Tax Board of California, a California state agency, was a named party to a lawsuit in Nevada state court; the State of California itself was not a party to the litigation in its own right). However, you are correct that even after this decision state agencies, including public universities like the University of Maryland, can waive the prohibition on being sued in the courts of other states by voluntarily contracting away that sovereign immunity.

I'm not a lawyer but this has been my experience. I have hired lots of subcontractors in other states. The contracts always have a clause that states "governed by the laws of "state/county." Typically the one paying designated the location.

Federal courts would not be involved unless the contract violated federal law. Since most of these contracts involve parties in different states, that is a possibility. If the ACC contracts violated federal law, Maryland would have filed suit in federal court. That's not a dig on Maryland but any party to a contract would do the same.
05-14-2019 10:36 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 10:36 PM)Wolfman Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 11:02 AM)CarlSmithCenter Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 10:00 AM)ken d Wrote:  I'm not a lawyer either. But it seems to me that the case you cite isn't germane in this decision. IIRC, the ACC sued the University of Maryland, not the State of Maryland. And I suspect that the university had previously agreed as a condition of its membership in that voluntary organization that disputes could be settled in a North Carolina court.

Lawyer here. The University of Maryland is a public institution created by, and in essence an agency of, the State of Maryland so it is imbued with the same type of sovereign immunity as the State of Maryland itself (the case decided yesterday dealt with a suit where the Franchise Tax Board of California, a California state agency, was a named party to a lawsuit in Nevada state court; the State of California itself was not a party to the litigation in its own right). However, you are correct that even after this decision state agencies, including public universities like the University of Maryland, can waive the prohibition on being sued in the courts of other states by voluntarily contracting away that sovereign immunity.

I'm not a lawyer but this has been my experience. I have hired lots of subcontractors in other states. The contracts always have a clause that states "governed by the laws of "state/county." Typically the one paying designated the location.

Federal courts would not be involved unless the contract violated federal law. Since most of these contracts involve parties in different states, that is a possibility. If the ACC contracts violated federal law, Maryland would have filed suit in federal court. That's not a dig on Maryland but any party to a contract would do the same.

I think what happened in Maryland vs the ACC was that Maryland had to address the ACC complaint filed in NC court because at that time, in 2012, it was understood that legally, they had to, as per the 1979 supreme court decision.

But now, they wouldn't have to. IMO, that is a potentially significant development in these kinds of cases.
(This post was last modified: 05-15-2019 08:00 AM by quo vadis.)
05-15-2019 07:59 AM
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-14-2019 09:17 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  Yesterday, the supreme court overruled a 1979 precedent that had said State X could be sued in State Y's courts. In the new decision, the court ruled that states have sovereign immunity versus each other: State X cannot by sued in State Y's courts, unless State X waives its immunity and allows itself to be.

I'm not a lawyer, but when Maryland left the ACC, the ACC sued Maryland in a North Carolina court, which was allowable under the 1979 precedent, and which surely put pressure on Maryland to settle.

Would that kind of lawsuit be allowed now under the new doctrine? If not, it could make it easier for schools that are public, and thus arms of their state's government, to leave conferences without worrying as much about legal ramifications in other state jurisdictions?

Or am i just way off base on this? Lawyers?

Most college athletic programs are separate private non profit corps separated from the University. So I don't know that the rule applies. The ACC was not a state, nor is Maryland's Athletic dept.
05-15-2019 08:26 AM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-15-2019 08:26 AM)goodknightfl Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 09:17 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  Yesterday, the supreme court overruled a 1979 precedent that had said State X could be sued in State Y's courts. In the new decision, the court ruled that states have sovereign immunity versus each other: State X cannot by sued in State Y's courts, unless State X waives its immunity and allows itself to be.

I'm not a lawyer, but when Maryland left the ACC, the ACC sued Maryland in a North Carolina court, which was allowable under the 1979 precedent, and which surely put pressure on Maryland to settle.

Would that kind of lawsuit be allowed now under the new doctrine? If not, it could make it easier for schools that are public, and thus arms of their state's government, to leave conferences without worrying as much about legal ramifications in other state jurisdictions?

Or am i just way off base on this? Lawyers?

Most college athletic programs are separate private non profit corps separated from the University. So I don't know that the rule applies. The ACC was not a state, nor is Maryland's Athletic dept.

The ACC (not a state) sued the University of Maryland (a branch of the state, so legally "a state") in North Carolina state court (also legally "a state").

The sovereign immunity principle doesn't apply to a state suing a state. They can do that. It just means neither state can force the other to answer the suit in their courts. That's what federal court is for, among other things. This about non-state entities (like a conference) suing a state entity (like a state school).

This case is IMO important because if, e.g., a school decides to break a conference agreement, the conference (not a state entity) can't sue the state school in another state, a state where it might have "home field advantage", like the ACC suing Maryland in North Carolina, unless the state entity agrees to it, which of course they are unlikely to do.
05-15-2019 08:32 AM
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ken d Offline
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RE: SCOTUS decision on state immunity: Implications for realignment?
(05-15-2019 08:26 AM)goodknightfl Wrote:  
(05-14-2019 09:17 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  Yesterday, the supreme court overruled a 1979 precedent that had said State X could be sued in State Y's courts. In the new decision, the court ruled that states have sovereign immunity versus each other: State X cannot by sued in State Y's courts, unless State X waives its immunity and allows itself to be.

I'm not a lawyer, but when Maryland left the ACC, the ACC sued Maryland in a North Carolina court, which was allowable under the 1979 precedent, and which surely put pressure on Maryland to settle.

Would that kind of lawsuit be allowed now under the new doctrine? If not, it could make it easier for schools that are public, and thus arms of their state's government, to leave conferences without worrying as much about legal ramifications in other state jurisdictions?

Or am i just way off base on this? Lawyers?

Most college athletic programs are separate private non profit corps separated from the University. So I don't know that the rule applies. The ACC was not a state, nor is Maryland's Athletic dept.

I don't know that to be true. Most have separate booster clubs which raise funds for the athletic program. But the athletics departments themselves are part of the university.

I doubt any of this will matter in the long run. Conferences will simply require state run schools to waive whatever sovereign immunity is determined to exist as a condition of membership in the conference. I suspect most conference bylaws already have such a provision.
05-15-2019 09:08 AM
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