Suits Against Government Corporations.

The multiplica- tion of government corporations during periods of war and depression has provided one motivation for limiting the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In Keifer & Keifer v. RFC,1039 the Court held that the government does not become a conduit of its immunity in suits against its agents or instrumentalities merely because they do its work. Nor does the creation of a government corporation confer upon it legal immunity. Whether Congress endows a public corporation with governmental immunity in a specific instance is a matter of ascertaining the congressional will. Moreover, it has been held that waivers of governmental immunity in the case of federal instrumentalities and corporations should be construed liberally.1040 On the other hand, Indian nations are exempt from suit without further congressional authorization; it is as though their former immunity as sovereigns passed to the United States for their benefit, as did their tribal properties.1041

Footnotes

1039
306 U.S. 381 (1939). [Back to text]
1040
FHA v. Burr, 309 U.S. 242 (1940). Nonetheless, the Court held that a congressional waiver of immunity in the case of a governmental corporation did not mean that funds or property of the United States can be levied on to pay a judgment obtained against such a corporation as the result of waiver of immunity. [Back to text]
1041
United States v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 309 U.S. 506 (1940). [Back to text]