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ArtIII.S2.C1.17.3 The State’s Real Interest

Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State, between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Ordinarily, a state may not sue in its name unless it is the real party in interest with real interests. It can sue to protect its own property interests,1 and, if it sues for its own interest as owner of another state’s bonds, rather than as an assignee for collection, jurisdiction exists.2 The Court refused to allow a state to sue when, to avoid Eleventh Amendment restrictions on suing states, the state had passed a statute to collect on another state’s bonds held by one of its citizens.3 Nor can a state sue citizens of other states on behalf of its own citizens to collect claims.4

Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & B. Bridge Co., 54 U.S. (13 How.) 518, 559 (1852); Oklahoma ex rel. Johnson v. Cook, 304 U.S. 387 (1938); Georgia v. Evans, 316 U.S. 159 (1942). back
South Dakota v. North Carolina, 192 U.S. 286 (1904). back
New Hampshire v. Louisiana, 108 U.S. 76 (1883). back
Oklahoma ex rel. Johnson v. Cook, 304 U.S. 387 (1938). back