[ O'Connor ]
|Syllabus ||Dissent |
[ Souter ]
[ Kennedy ]
NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
IDAHO, et al., PETITIONERS v. COEUR
d'ALENE TRIBE OF IDAHO, etc., et al.
on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit
In the northern region of Idaho, close by the Coeur d'Alene Mountains which are part of Bitterroot Range, lies tranquil Lake Coeur d'Alene. One of the Nation's most beautiful lakes, it is some 24 miles long and 1 to 3 miles wide. The Spokane River originates here and thence flows west, while the Lake in turn is fed by other rivers and streams, including Coeur d'Alene River which flows to it from the east, as does the forested Saint Joe River which begins high in the Bitterroots and gathers their waters along its 130 mile journey. To the south of the lake lies the more populated part of the Coeur d'Alene Reservation. Whether the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's ownership extends to the banks and submerged lands of the lake and various of these rivers and streams, or instead is vested in the State of Idaho, is the underlying dispute. We are limited here, however, to the important, preliminary question whether the Eleventh Amendment bars a federal court from hearing the Tribe's claim.
Alleging ownership in the submerged lands and bed of Lake Coeur d'Alene and of the various navigable rivers and streams that form part of its water system, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, a federally recognized tribe, together with various individual tribe members sued in federal court. As there is no relevant distinction between the Tribe and those of its members who have joined the suit, for purposes of the issue we decide, we refer to them all as the Tribe. The Coeur d'Alene Reservation consists of some 13,032 acres of tribal land, 55,583 acres of allotted land, and 330 Government owned acres. Statistical Record of Native North Americans 53 (M. Raddy ed. 1995). The Tribe claimed the beneficial interest, subject to the trusteeship of the United States, in the beds and banks of all navigable watercourses and waters (the "submerged lands") within the original boundaries of the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, as defined by Executive Order on November 8, 1873. Executive Order of November 8, 1873, reprinted in 1 C. Kappler, Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties 837 (1904). The area in dispute includes the banks and beds and submerged lands of Lake Coeur d'Alene and some portions of the various rivers and streams we have described. In the alternative, the Tribe claimed ownership of the submerged lands pursuant to unextinguished aboriginal title. A state forum was available, see Idaho Code §5-328 (1990), but the Tribe brought this action in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho.
The suit named the State of Idaho, various state agencies, and numerous state officials in their individual capacities. In addition to its title claims, the Tribe further sought a declaratory judgment to establish its entitlement to the exclusive use and occupancy and the right to quiet enjoyment of the submerged lands as well as a declaration of the invalidity of all Idaho statutes, ordinances, regulations, customs or usages which purport to regulate, authorize, use or affect in any way the submerged lands. Finally, it sought a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting defendants from regulating, permitting or taking any action in violation of the Tribe's rights of exclusive use and occupancy, quiet enjoyment and other ownership interest in the submerged lands along with an award for costs and attorney's fees and such other relief as the court deemed appropriate.
The defendants moved to dismiss the Tribe's complaint on Eleventh Amendment immunity grounds and for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court held the Eleventh Amendment barred the claims against Idaho and the agencies. It concluded further that the action against the officials for quiet title and declaratory relief was barred by the Eleventh Amendment because these claims were the functional equivalents of a damages award against the State. It dismissed the claim for injunctive relief against the officials, on the merits, since Idaho was in rightful possession of the submerged lands as a matter of law. It explained that Idaho acquired ownership of the submerged lands upon its statehood in 1890 under the equal footing doctrine. The court did not discuss the Tribe's claim to aboriginal title. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho v. Idaho, 798 F. Supp. 1443 (Idaho 1992).
The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. 42 F. 3d 1244 (1994). It agreed with the District Court that the Eleventh Amendment barred all claims against the State and its agencies, as well as the quiet title action against the officials. The Court of Appeals found the Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), doctrine applicable and allowed the claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against the officials to proceed insofar as they sought to preclude continuing violations of federal law. The requested declaratory and injunctive relief, the Court of Appeals reasoned, is based upon Idaho's ongoing interference with the Tribe's alleged ownership rights premised on the 1873 Executive Order as later ratified by federal statute. See Act of Mar. 3, 1891, ch. 543, §19, 26 Stat. 1026-1029. It further found it conceivable that the Tribe could prove facts entitling it to relief. It reversed the District Court's dismissal of the declaratory and injunctive relief claims and ordered the case remanded. It also remanded for consideration of the Tribe's claim for declaratory relief based on aboriginal title. We granted certiorari, 517 U. S. ___ (1996), to consider whether the suit for declaratory and injunctive relief based on the Tribe's purported beneficial interest in title may proceed, and we now reverse in part.
After issuance of the District Court's opinion the United States filed suit against the State of Idaho on behalf of the Tribe seeking to quiet title to approximately a third of the land covered by this suit. United States v. Idaho, No. 94-0328 (D. Idaho filed July 21, 1994). The Government's separate suit is still pending and is not implicated here.
The grant of federal judicial power is cast in terms of its reach or extent. Article III, §2 of the Constitution provides the "judicial Power shall extend" to the cases it enumerates, including "all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution [and] the Laws of the United States." The Eleventh Amendment, too, employs the term "extend." It provides:
"The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State."
This point of commonality could suggest that the Eleventh Amendment, like the grant of Article III, §2, jurisdiction, is cast in terms of reach or competence, so the federal courts are altogether disqualified from hearing certain suits brought against a State. This interpretation, however, has been neither our tradition nor the accepted construction of the Amendment's text. Rather, a State can waive its Eleventh Amendment protection and allow a federal court to hear and decide a case commenced or prosecuted against it. The Amendment, in other words, enacts a sovereign immunity from suit, rather than a nonwaivable limit on the federal judiciary's subject matter jurisdiction. The immunity is one the States enjoy save where there has been " `a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the convention.' " Principality of Monaco v. Mississippi, 292 U.S. 313, 322-323 (1934) (quoting The Federalist No. 81).
The Court's recognition of sovereign immunity has not been limited to the suits described in the text of the Eleventh Amendment. To respect the broader concept of immunity, implicit in the Constitution, which we have regarded the Eleventh Amendment as evidencing and exemplifying, we have extended a State's protection from suit to suits brought by the State's own citizens. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1 (1890). Furthermore, the dignity and respect afforded a State, which the immunity is designed to protect, are placed in jeopardy whether or not the suit is based on diversity jurisdiction. As a consequence, suits invoking the federal question jurisdiction of Article III courts may also be barred by the Amendment. Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U. S. ___ (1996).
In extended criticisms of the Court's recognition that the immunity can extend to suits brought by a State's own citizens and to suits premised on federal questions, some of them as recent as last Term, see id., at ___ (slip op., at ___) (Stevens, J., dissenting), id., at ___ (slip op., at ___) (Souter, J., dissenting), various dissenting and concurring opinions have urged a change in direction. See, e.g., Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 247 (1985) (Brennan, J., dissenting). Were we to abandon our understanding of the Eleventh Amendment as reflecting a broader principle of sovereign immunity, the Tribe's suit, which is based on its purported federal property rights, might proceed. These criticisms and proposed doctrinal revisions, however, have not found acceptance with a majority of the Court. We adhere to our precedent.
Under well established principles, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and, a fortiori, its members, are subject to the Eleventh Amendment. In Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775, 779-782 (1991), we rejected the contention that sovereign immunity only restricts suits by individuals against sovereigns, not by sovereigns against sovereigns. Since the plan of the convention did not surrender Indian tribes' immunity for the benefit of the States, we reasoned that the States likewise did not surrender their immunity for the benefit of the tribes. Indian tribes, we therefore concluded, should be accorded the same status as foreign sovereigns, against whom States enjoy Eleventh Amendment immunity. Id., at 782.
The Tribe's suit, accordingly, is barred by Idaho's Eleventh Amendment immunity unless it falls within the exception this Court has recognized for certain suits seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against state officers in their individual capacities. See Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908). The Young exception to sovereign immunity was an important part of our jurisprudence when the Court adhered to its precedents in the face of the criticisms we have mentioned, and when the Court, overruling Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1 (1989), held that Congress, in the exercise of its power to regulate commerce with Indian tribes, may not abrogate state sovereign immunity. Seminole Tribe, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 26, n. 14) We do not, then, question the continuing validity of the Ex parte Young doctrine. Of course, questions will arise as to its proper scope and application. In resolving these questions we must ensure that the doctrine of sovereign immunity remains meaningful, while also giving recognition to the need to prevent violations of federal law.
When suit is commenced against state officials, even if they are named and served as individuals, the State itself will have a continuing interest in the litigation whenever state policies or procedures are at stake. This commonsense observation of the State's real interest when its officers are named as individuals has not escaped notice or comment from this Court, either before or after Young. See, e.g., Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 846-847 (1824) (stating that the State's interest in the suit was so "direct" that "perhaps no decree ought to have been pronounced in the cause, until the State was before the court") (Marshall, C. J.); Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 114, n. 25 (1984) (noting that Young rests on a fictional distinction between the official and the State); see also Florida Dept. of State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc., 458 U.S. 670, 685 (1982) (opinion of Stevens, J.) (recognizing the irony that a state official's conduct may be considered " `state action' " for Fourteenth Amendment purposes yet not for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment). Indeed, the suit in Young, which sought to enjoin the state attorney general from enforcing state law, implicated substantial state interests. 209 U. S., at 174 ("[T]he manifest, indeed the avowed and admitted, object of seeking [the requested] relief [is] to tie the hands of the State") (Harlan, J., dissenting). We agree with these observations.
To interpret Young to permit a federal court action to proceed in every case where prospective declaratory and injunctive relief is sought against an officer, named in his individual capacity, would be to adhere to an empty formalism and to undermine the principle, reaffirmed just last Term in Seminole Tribe, that Eleventh Amendment immunity represents a real limitation on a federal court's federal question jurisdiction. The real interests served by the Eleventh Amendment are not to be sacrificed to elementary mechanics of captions and pleading. Application of the Young exception must reflect a proper understanding of its role in our federal system and respect for state courts instead of a reflexive reliance on an obvious fiction. See, e.g., Pennhurst, supra, at 102-103, 114, n. 25 (explaining that Edelman's limitation of Young to prospective relief represented a refusal to apply the fiction in every conceivable circumstance).
Putting aside the acts of state officials which are plainly ultra vires under state law itself, see Pennhurst, supra, at 101-102, n. 11, there are, in general, two instances where Young has been applied. The first is where there is no state forum available to vindicate federal interests, thereby placing upon Article III courts the special obligation to ensure the supremacy of federal statutory and constitutional law. This is a most important application of the Ex parte Young doctrine and is exemplified by the facts in Young itself. See 209 U. S., at 146 ("The necessary effect and result of [the challenged] legislation must be to preclude a resort to the courts (either state or Federal) for the purpose of testing its validity").
As is well known, the ultimate question in Young was whether the State's attorney general could enforce a state rate setting scheme said by the objecting shareholders of railroad companies to be unconstitutional. The shareholders sought a federal injunction against Attorney General Young, prohibiting enforcement of the rate scheme. Attempting to show the lack of necessity for federal intervention, Young maintained the shareholders could wait until a state enforcement proceeding was brought against the railroads and then test the law's validity by raising constitutional defenses. The Court rejected the argument, first because a single violation might not bring a prompt prosecution; and second because the penalties for violations were so severe a railroad official could not test the law without grave risk of heavy fines and imprisonment. The Court added that a federal suit for injunctive relief would be "undoubtedly the most convenient, the most comprehensive and the most orderly way in which the rights of all parties can be properly, fairly and adequately passed upon." Id., at 166.
Where there is no available state forum the Young rule has special significance. In that instance providing a federal forum for a justiciable controversy is a specific application of the principle that the plan of the convention contemplates a regime in which federal guarantees are enforceable so long as there is a justiciable controversy. The Federalist No. 80, p. 475 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton) ("[T]here ought always to be a constitutional method of giving efficacy to constitutional provisions"). We of course express no opinion as to the circumstances in which the unavailability of injunctive relief in state court would raise constitutional concerns under current doctrine.
Young was not an isolated example of an instance where a state forum was unavailable. See, e.g., Osborn, supra, at 842-843 (explaining that if it was within the power of the plaintiff to make the State a party to the suit it would "certainly [be] true" that a suit against state officials would be barred, but if the "real principal" is "exempt from all judicial process" an officer suit could proceed); United States v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196 (1882) (permitting suit for injunctive relief to proceed where there did not otherwise exist a legal remedy for the alleged trespass); Poindexter v. Greenhow, 114 U.S. 270, 299 (1885) (explaining that the state law remedy for Virginia's unconstitutional refusal to accept its own bond coupons in satisfaction of state taxes was, in fact, "no remedy"). In these early cases, the Court, although expressing concern over the lack of a forum, did not rely on the lack of a forum as its doctrinal basis. After abandonment of Osborn's rule that a suit was not against the State so long as the State was not a party of record, see Governor of Georgia v. Madrazo, 1 Pet. 110, 124 (1828), the Young fiction was employed where "the act complained of, considered apart from the official authority alleged as its justification, and as the personal act of the individual defendant, constituted a violation of right for which the plaintiff was entitled to a remedy at law or in equity against the wrongdoer in his individual character." In re Ayers, 123 U.S. 443, 502 (1887). In other words, where the individual would have been liable at common law for his actions, sovereign immunity was no bar regardless of the person's official position. See, e.g., Lee, supra, at 221 (common law tort of trespass); Belknap v. Schild, 161 U.S. 10, 18 (1896) (common law tort of patent infringement); Tindal v. Wesley, 167 U.S. 204, 221-222 (1897) (common law tort of trespass); Scully v. Bird, 209 U.S. 481, 483 (1908) (common law tort of injuring plaintiff's reputation and sale of certain products). Under this line of reasoning, a state official who committed a common law tort was said to have been "stripped" of his official or representative character. See Young, supra, at 159-160; 114 U. S., at 288.
With the growth of statutory and complex regulatory schemes, this mode of analysis might have been somewhat obscured. Part of the significance of Young, in this respect, lies in its treatment of a threatened suit by an official to enforce an unconstitutional state law as if it were a common law tort. See 209 U. S., at 158 (treating this possibility as a "specific wrong or trespass"), id., at 167 ("The difference between an actual and direct interference with tangible property and the enjoining of state officers from enforcing an unconstitutional act, is not of a radical nature"). Treatment of a threatened suit to enforce an unconstitutional statute as a tort found support in Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 U.S. 362 (1894), and Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466 (1898). See Currie, Sovereign Immunity and Suits Against Government Officers, 1984 Sup. Ct. Rev. 149, 154, and n. 35. By employing the common law injury framework, the Young Court underscored the inadequacy of state procedures for vindicating the constitutional rights at stake. Id., at 163-166. The enforcement scheme in Young, which raised obstacles to the vindication of constitutional claims, was not unusual. See, e.g., Willcox v. Consolidated Gas Co., 212 U.S. 19, 53-54 (1909) (discussing the "enormous and overwhelming" penalties for violating the challenged statutes); Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Andrews, 216 U.S. 165 (1910) (penalties for each violation of the challenged statute included $1,000 fine); Herndon v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 218 U.S. 135, 151 (1910) (penalties for violating the challenged statute could "in a short time . . . amount to many thousands of dollars"); Oklahoma Operating Co. v. Love, 252 U.S. 331, 336 (1920) (penalties for violations are "such as might well deter even the boldest and most confident"). In many situations, as in the above cited cases, the exercise of a federal court's equitable jurisdiction was necessary to avoid "excessive and oppressive penalties, [the] possibility of [a] multiplicity of suits causing irreparable damage, or [the] lack of proper opportunities for [state] review." Warren, Federal and State Court Interference, 43 Harv. L. Rev. 345, 377-378 (1930).
The reluctance to place much reliance on the availability of a state forum can be understood in part by the prevalence of the idea that if a State consented to suit in a state forum it had consented, by that same act, to suit in a federal forum. See, e.g., Davis v. Gray, 16 Wall. 203, 221 (1873); Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., supra, at 391. Today, by contrast, it is acknowledged that States have real and vital interests in preferring their own forum in suits brought against them, interests that ought not to be disregarded based upon a waiver presumed in law and contrary to fact. See, e.g., Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 673 (1974). In this case, there is neither warrant nor necessity to adopt the Young device to provide an adequate judicial forum for resolving the dispute between the Tribe and the State. Idaho's courts are open to hear the case, and the State neither has nor claims immunity from their process or their binding judgment.
Even if there is a prompt and effective remedy in a state forum, a second instance in which Young may serve an important interest is when the case calls for the interpretation of federal law. This reasoning, which is described as the interest in having federal rights vindicated in federal courts, can lead to expansive application of the Young exception. See, e.g., Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 68 (1985) (explaining that Young furthers the federal interest in vindicating federal law); Pennhurst, 465 U. S., at 105 ("[T]he Young doctrine has been accepted as necessary to permit the federal courts to vindicate federal rights") (citation omitted). It is difficult to say States consented to these types of suits in the plan of the convention. Neither in theory nor in practice has it been shown problematic to have federal claims resolved in state courts where Eleventh Amendment immunity would be applicable in federal court but for an exception based on Young. For purposes of the Supremacy Clause, it is simply irrelevant whether the claim is brought in state or federal court. Federal courts, after all, did not have general federal question jurisdiction until 1875. Assuming the availability of a state forum with the authority and procedures adequate for the effective vindication of federal law, due process concerns would not be implicated by having state tribunals resolve federal question cases.
In some cases, it is true, the federal courts play an indispensable role in maintaining the structural integrity of the constitutional design. A federal forum assures the peaceful resolution of disputes between the States, South Dakota v. North Carolina, 192 U.S. 286 (1904), and suits initiated by the United States against States, United States v. Texas, 143 U.S. 621 (1892). While we can assume there is a special role for Article III courts in the interpretation and application of federal law in other instances as well, we do not for that reason conclude that state courts are a less than adequate forum for resolving federal questions. A doctrine based on the inherent inadequacy of state forums would run counter to basic principles of federalism. In Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976), we expressed our "emphatic reaffirmation . . . of the constitutional obligation of the state courts to uphold federal law, and [our] expression of confidence in their ability to do so." Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 105 (1980).
Interpretation of federal law is the proprietary concern of state, as well as federal, courts. It is the right and duty of the States, within their own judiciaries, to interpret and to follow the Constitution and all laws enacted pursuant to it, subject to a litigant's right of review in this Court in a proper case. The Constitution and laws of the United States are not a body of law external to the States, acknowledged and enforced simply as a matter of comity. The Constitution is the basic law of the Nation, a law to which a State's ties are no less intimate than those of the National Government itself. The separate States and the Government of the United States are bound in the common cause of preserving the whole constitutional order. Federal and state law "together form one system of jurisprudence." Claflin v. Houseman, 93 U.S. 130, 137 (1876). It would be error coupled with irony were we to bypass the Eleventh Amendment, which enacts a scheme solicitous of the States, on the sole rationale that state courts are inadequate to enforce and interpret federal rights in every case.
It is a principal concern of the court system in any State to define and maintain a proper balance between the State's courts on one hand, and its officials and administrative agencies on the other. This is of vital concern to States. As the Idaho State Attorney General has explained, "[e]verywhere a citizen turns--to apply for a life sustaining public benefit, to obtain a license, to respond to a complaint--it is [administrative law] that governs the way in which their contact with state government will be carried out." EchoHawk, Introduction to Administrative Procedure Act Issue, 30 Idaho L. Rev. 261, 261 (1994). In the States there is an ongoing process by which state courts and state agencies work to elaborate an administrative law designed to reflect the State's own rules and traditions concerning the respective scope of judicial review and administrative discretion. An important case such as the instant one has features which instruct and enrich the elaboration of administrative law that is one of the primary responsibilities of the state judiciary. Where, as here, the parties invoke federal principles to challenge state administrative action, the courts of the State have a strong interest in integrating those sources of law within their own system for the proper judicial control of state officials.
Our precedents do teach us, nevertheless, that where prospective relief is sought against individual state officers in a federal forum based on a federal right, the Eleventh Amendment, in most cases, is not a bar. See, e.g., Willcox, 212 U. S., at 40. Indeed, since Edelman we have consistently allowed suits seeking prospective injunctive relief based on federal violations to proceed. Last Term, however, we did not allow a suit raising a federal question to proceed based on Congress' provision of an alternative review mechanism. Whether the presumption in favor of federal court jurisdiction in this type of case is controlling will depend upon the particular context. What is really at stake where a state forum is available is the desire of the litigant to choose a particular forum versus the desire of the State to have the dispute resolved in its own courts. The Eleventh Amendment's background principles of federalism and comity need not be ignored in resolving these conflicting preferences. The Young exception may not be applicable if the suit would "upset the balance of federal and state interests that it embodies." Papasan v. Allain, 478
U. S. 265, 277 (1986). The exception has been "tailored to conform as precisely as possible to those specific situations in which it is necessary to permit the federal courts to vindicate federal rights." Ibid. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Pennhurst, 465 U. S., at 104, n. 13.
The course of our case law indicates the wisdom and necessity of considering, when determining the applicability of the Eleventh Amendment, the real affront to a State of allowing a suit to proceed. As we explained in Ford Motor Co. v. Department of Treasury of Ind., 323 U.S. 459 (1945): "[T]he nature of a suit as one against the state is to be determined by the essential nature and effect of the proceeding." Id., at 464. We held that "when the action is in essence one for the recovery of money from the state, the state is the real, substantial party in interest and is entitled to invoke its sovereign immunity from suit even though individual officials are nominal defendants." Ibid. In re Ayers, cited with approval in Young, stated that it is not "conclusive of the principal question in this case, that the [State] is not named as a party defendant. Whether it is the actual party, in the sense of the prohibition of the Constitution, must be determined by a consideration of the nature of the case as presented on the whole record." 123 U. S., at 492. See also Ex parte New York, 256 U.S. 490, 500 (1921) (Young's applicability "is to be determined not by the mere names of the titular parties but by the essential nature and effect of the proceeding, as it appears from the entire record"). Of course, the State's interests are almost always implicated to a certain extent in Young actions, but the statements we cite reflect the Court's recognition "that the need to promote the supremacy of federal law must be accommodated to the constitutional immunity of the States." Pennhurst, supra, at 105.
Our recent cases illustrate a careful balancing and accommodation of state interests when determining whether the Young exception applies in a given case. In Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651 (1974), the relief granted by the Federal District Court required state officials to release and remit federal benefits. While the district court's order might have served the goal of deterrence as well as compensation, we concluded the suit was barred by the Eleventh Amendment because it was not necessary for the vindication of federal rights. In reaching this conclusion, we explained that "we must judge the award actually made in this case, and not one which might have been differently tailored in a different case." Id., at 665. There was no need for the Edelman Court to consider the other relief granted by the district court, prospectively enjoining state officials from failing to abide by federal requirements, since it was conceded that Young was sufficient for this purpose. 415 U. S., at 664. The second time the Edelman litigation came before the Court, in Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979), we made a point of saying the relief sought pursuant to the Young action was a notice "simply inform[ing] class members that their federal suit is at an end, that the federal court can provide them with no further relief, and that there are existing state administrative procedures. . . . Petitioner raises no objection to the expense of preparing or sending it. The class members are given no more . . . than what they would have gathered by sitting in the courtroom." 440 U. S., at 349 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267 (1977), is consistent with this approach. Although authorizing relief having an undeniably substantial effect on the State, Milliken does not obviate the need for careful consideration of a suit's impact. Milliken concerned a Young suit against various Michigan officials resulting in a District Court order requiring the State, along with the Detroit School Board, to pay for a comprehensive education program for school children who had been subjected to past acts of de jure segregation. The gravamen of the complaint and its ultimate purpose was to vindicate the plaintiffs' civil liberties, not to establish ownership over state resources or funds. The Milliken lawsuit and the resulting order were a direct result of the State's "official acts of racial discrimination committed by both the Detroit School Board and the State of Michigan" in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. 433 U. S., at 269. If Congress pursuant to its §5 remedial powers under the Fourteenth Amendment may abrogate sovereign immunity, even if the resulting legislation goes beyond what is constitutionally necessary, see, e.g., Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445 (1976) (concluding that Title VII's authorization of federal court jurisdiction to award money damages against a state government to individuals subjected to employment discrimination does not violate the Eleventh Amendment since Congress was exercising its §5 remedial powers), it follows that the substantive provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment themselves offer a powerful reason to provide a federal forum. The Milliken Court, for similar reasons, rejected a Tenth Amendment challenge to the order. 433 U. S., at 291. In short, "[t]he theme that thus emerges from [our recent Young cases] . . . is one of balancing of state and federal interests." Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U. S., at 27 (Stevens, J., concurring).
This case by case approach to the Young doctrine has been evident from the start. Before Larson v. Domestic and Foreign Commerce Corp., 337 U.S. 682 (1949) (a federal sovereign immunity case), we allowed suits to proceed, as explained above, if the official committed a tort as defined by the common law. While Larson rejected this reliance on the common law of torts, see id., at 692-695, the importance of case by case analysis was recognized again in Seminole Tribe. There, in holding the Young exception inapplicable to a suit based on federal law, we relied on Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U.S. 412 (1988). Chilicky, in turn, addressed whether a Bivens type of action, a right of action stemming from the Constitution itself, see Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), applied in a suit alleging due process violations in the denial of Social Security disability benefits. A Bivens action was unavailable, the Chilicky Court held, given the particular circumstances present in the case. Seminole Tribe's implicit analogy of Young to Bivens is instructive. Both the Young and Bivens lines of cases reflect a sensitivity to varying contexts, and courts should consider whether there are "special factors counselling hesitation," 403 U. S., at 396, before allowing a suit to proceed under either theory. The range of concerns to be considered in answering this inquiry is broad. See id., at 407 (Harlan, J., concurring).
As no one disputes, the Young fiction is an exercise in line drawing. There is no reason why the line cannot be drawn to reflect the real interests of States consistent with the clarity and certainty appropriate to the Eleventh Amendment's jurisdictional inquiry.
We now turn to consider whether the Tribe may avoid the Eleventh Amendment bar and avail itself of the Young exception. Although the "difference between the type of relief barred by the Eleventh Amendment and that permitted under Ex parte Young will not in many instances be that between day and night," Edelman, 415 U. S., at 667, this suit, we decide, falls on the Eleventh Amendment side of the line, and Idaho's sovereign immunity controls.
The Tribe has alleged an on going violation of its property rights in contravention of federal law and seeks prospective injunctive relief. The Tribe argues that it should therefore be able to avail itself of the Ex Parte Young fiction. Moreover, the Tribe points to the plurality decision in Florida Dept. of State v. Treasure Salvors Inc., 458 U.S. 670 (1982) (opinion of Stevens, J.), where we allowed a Federal District Court to issue a warrant commanding state officials to turn over various artifacts (mainly treasure from a sunken Spanish galleon) to the United States Marshal despite the State's claim of sovereign immunity.
An allegation of an on going violation of federal law where the requested relief is prospective is ordinarily sufficient to invoke the Young fiction. However, this case is unusual in that the Tribe's suit is the functional equivalent of a quiet title action which implicates special sovereignty interests. We do not think Treasure Salvors, supra, is helpful to the Tribe because the state officials there were acting beyond the authority conferred upon them by the State, id., at 696-697, a theory the Tribe does not even attempt to pursue in the case before us. We must examine the effect of the Tribe's suit and its impact on these special sovereignty interests in order to decide whether the Ex parte Young fiction is applicable.
It is common ground between the parties, at this stage of the litigation, that the Tribe could not maintain a quiet title suit against Idaho in federal court, absent the State's consent. The Eleventh Amendment would bar it. Tindal, 167 U. S., at 223. Despite this prohibition, the declaratory and injunctive relief the Tribe seeks is close to the functional equivalent of quiet title in that substantially all benefits of ownership and control would shift from the State to the Tribe. This is especially troubling when coupled with the far reaching and invasive relief the Tribe seeks, relief with consequences going well beyond the typical stakes in a real property quiet title action. The suit seeks, in effect, a determination that the lands in question are not even within the regulatory jurisdiction of the State. The requested injunctive relief would bar the State's principal officers from exercising their governmental powers and authority over the disputed lands and waters. The suit would diminish, even extinguish, the State's control over a vast reach of lands and waters long deemed by the State to be an integral part of its territory. To pass this off as a judgment causing little or no offense to Idaho's sovereign authority and its standing in the Union would be to ignore the realities of the relief the Tribe demands.
Any contention that the State is not implicated by the suit in a manner having an immediate effect on jurisdictional control over important public lands is belied by the complaint itself. The state officials who are the named defendants, all members of the Board of Land Commissioners save Director Higginson, include: Governor Cecil Andrus, who is Chairman of the Board and trustee of a public water right in Lake Coeur d'Alene pursuant to Idaho Code §67-4304 (1989); Pete Cenarrusa, Secretary of State; Larry EchoHawk, Attorney General; Jerry Evans, Superintendent of Public Instruction; J. D. Williams, Auditor; and Keith Higginson, Director of the Department of Water Resources. The power to regulate and control the use and disposition of public lands, including the beds of navigable lakes, rivers and streams, is vested in the Board of Land Commissioners. Idaho Const., Art. IX, §7 (Supp. 1996); Idaho Code §§58-101, 58-104(9) (1994 and Supp. 1996).
Not only would the relief block all attempts by these officials to exercise jurisdiction over a substantial portion of land but also would divest the State of its sovereign control over submerged lands, lands with a unique status in the law and infused with a public trust the State itself is bound to respect. As we stressed in Utah Div. of State Lands v. United States, 482 U.S. 193, 195-198 (1987), lands underlying navigable waters have historically been considered "sovereign lands." State ownership of them has been "considered an essential attribute of sovereignty." Id., at 195. The Court from an early date has acknowledged that the people of each of the Thirteen Colonies at the time of independence "became themselves sovereign; and in that character hold the absolute right to all their navigable waters and the soils under them for their own common use, subject only to the rights since surrendered by the Constitution to the general government." Martin v. Lessee of Waddell, 16 Pet. 367, 410 (1842). Then, in Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan, 3 How. 212 (1845), the Court concluded that States entering the Union after 1789 did so on an "equal footing" with the original States and so have similar ownership over these "sovereign lands." Id., at 228-229. In consequence of this rule, a State's title to these sovereign lands arises from the equal footing doctrine and is "conferred not by Congress but by the Constitution itself." Oregon ex rel. State Land Bd. v. Corvallis Sand & Gravel Co., 429 U.S. 363, 374 (1977). The importance of these lands to state sovereignty explains our longstanding commitment to the principle that the United States is presumed to have held navigable waters in acquired territory for the ultimate benefit of future States and "that disposals by the United States during the territorial period are not lightly to be inferred, and should not be regarded as intended unless the intention was definitely declared or otherwise made very plain." United States v. Holt State Bank, 270 U.S. 49, 55 (1926).
The principle which underlies the equal footing doctrine and the strong presumption of state ownership is that navigable waters uniquely implicate sovereign interests. The principle arises from ancient doctrines. See, e.g., Institutes of Justinian, Lib. II, Tit. I, §2 (T. Cooper transl. 2d ed. 1841) ("Rivers and ports are public; hence the right of fishing in a port, or in rivers are in common"). The special treatment of navigable waters in English law was recognized in Bracton's time. He stated that "[a]ll rivers and ports are public, so that the right to fish therein is common to all persons. The use of river banks, as of the river itself, is also public." 2 H. Bracton, De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae 40 (S. Thorne trans. 1968). The Magna Carta provided that the Crown would remove "all fish weirs . . . from the Thames and the Medway and throughout all England, except on the sea coast." M. Evans & R. Jack, Sources of English Legal and Constitutional History 53 (1984); see also Waddell, supra, at 410-413 (tracing tidelands trusteeship back to Magna Carta).
The Court in Shively v. Bowlby, 152 U.S. 1, 13 (1894), summarizing English common law, stated:
"In England, from the time of Lord Hale, it has been treated as settled that the title in the soil of the sea, or of arms of the sea, below ordinary highwater mark, is in the King; except so far as an individual or a corporation has acquired rights in it by express grant, or by prescription or usage . . . and that this title, jus privatum, whether in the King or in a subject, is held subject to the public right, jus publicum, of navigation and fishing."
Not surprisingly, American law adopted as its own much of the English law respecting navigable waters, including the principle that submerged lands are held for a public purpose. See Arnold v. Mundy, 6 N. J. L. 1 (1821). A prominent example is Illinois Central R. Co. v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387 (1892), where the Court held that the Illinois Legislature did not have the authority to vest the State's right and title to a portion of the navigable waters of Lake Michigan in a private party even though a proviso in the grant declared that it did not authorize obstructions to the harbor, impairment of the public right of navigation, or exemption of the private party from any act regulating rates of wharfage and dockage to be charged in the harbor. An attempted transfer was beyond the authority of the legislature since it amounted to abdication of its obligation to regulate, improve, and secure submerged lands for the benefit of every individual. Id., at 455-460. While Illinois Central was "necessarily a statement of Illinois law," Appleby v. City of New York, 271 U.S. 364, 395 (1926), it invoked the principle in American law recognizing the weighty public interests in submerged lands.
American law, in some ways, enhanced and extended the public aspects of submerged lands. English law made a distinction between waterways subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and large enough to accommodate boats (royal rivers) and nontidal waterways (public highways). With respect to the royal rivers, the King was presumed to hold title to the river bed and soil while the public retained the right of passage and the right to fish. With public highways, as the name suggests, the public retained the right of passage, but title was typically held by a private party. See J. Angell, A Treatise on The Common Law in relation to Water Courses 14-18 (1824). The riparian proprietor was presumed to hold title to the stream to the center thread of the waters (usque ad filum aquae) which accorded him the exclusive right of fishery in the stream and entitled him to compensation for any impairment of his right to the enjoyment of his property caused by construction. The State's obligation to pay compensation could result in substantial liability. Shrunk v. Schuylkill, 14 Serg. & Rawle 71, 80 (Pa. 1826). State courts, however, early on in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Alabama, and North Carolina rejected the distinction and concluded the State presumptively held title regardless of whether the waterway was subject to the ebb and flow of the tide. See, e.g., Carson v. Blazer, 2 Binn. 475 (Pa. 1810); Cates v. Wadlington, 1 McCord 580 (S. C. 1822); Bullock v. Wilson, 2 Port. 436 (Ala. 1835); Collins v. Benbury, 3 Iredell 277 (N. C. 1842); but see Hooker v. Cummings, 20 Johns. 90 (N. Y. 1822). And this Court in describing the concept of sovereign lands rejected the requirement that navigable waters need be affected by the tides. Barney v. Keokuk, 94 U.S. 324, 337-338 (1877); cf. Propeller Genesse Chief v. Fitzhugh, 12 How. 443 (1852).
American law, moreover, did not recognize the sovereign's rights of private property (jus privatum) that existed in England, apart from the public's rights to this land (jus publicum). In England, for instance, the Crown had the exclusive right to hunt the "grand fishes," e.g., whales and sturgeons, of the sea. J. Angell, A Treatise on the Right of Property in Tide Waters and in the Soils and Shores Thereof 18-19 (1847). There was a particular aversion to recognizing in States the Crown's jus privatum right to seize private structures on shores and marshes reclaimed from tidewaters. See J. Gould, A Treatise on the Law of Waters including Riparian Rights, and Public And Private Rights In Waters Tidal And Inland §32 (2d ed. 1891). All these developments in American law are a natural outgrowth of the perceived public character of submerged lands, a perception which underlies and informs the principle that these lands are tied in a unique way to sovereignty.
Idaho views its interest in the submerged lands in similar terms. Idaho law provides: "Water being essential to the industrial prosperity of the state, and all agricultural development . . . its control shall be in the state, which, in providing for its use, shall equally guard all the various interests involved. All the waters of the state, when flowing in their natural channels . . . are declared to be the property of the state." Idaho Code §42-101 (1990). Title to these public waters is held by the State of Idaho in its sovereign capacity for the purpose of ensuring that it is used for the public benefit. Poole v. Olaveson, 82 Idaho 496, 503, 356 P. 2d 61, 65 (1960). There are specific statutory provisions concerning Lake Coeur d'Alene. The Lake is held in trust by the Governor for the people of the State of Idaho. The "preservation of [Lake Coeur d'Alene] for scenic beauty, health, recreation, transportation and commercial purposes [being] necessary and desirable for all the inhabitants of the state is hereby declared to be a beneficial use of such water." Idaho Code §67-4304 (1989). The "lands belonging to the state of Idaho between the ordinary high and low water mark at [Lake Coeur d'Alene] . . . are hereby declared to be devoted to a public use in connection with the preservation of said lak[e] in [its] present condition as a health resort and recreation place for the inhabitants of the state." Idaho Code §67-4305 (Supp. 1996).
Our recitation of the ties between the submerged lands and the State's own sovereignty, and of the severance and diminishment of state sovereignty were the declaratory and injunctive relief to be granted, is not in derogation of the Tribe's own claim. As the Tribe views the case, the lands are just as necessary, perhaps even more so, to its own dignity and ancient right. The question before us is not the merit of either party's claim, however, but the relation between the sovereign lands at issue and the immunity the State asserts.
It is apparent, then, that if the Tribe were to prevail, Idaho's sovereign interest in its lands and waters would be affected in a degree fully as intrusive as almost any conceivable retroactive levy upon funds in its Treasury. Under these particular and special circumstances, we find the Young exception inapplicable. The dignity and status of its statehood allows Idaho to rely on its Eleventh Amendment immunity and to insist upon responding to these claims in its own courts, which are open to hear and determine the case.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed in part, and the case is remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.