U.S. Supreme Court
Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 U.S. 1 (1891)
Pennoyer v. McConnaughy
Submitted January 5, 1891
Decided April 20, 1891
140 U.S. 1
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED
STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
A suit in equity against the Board of Land Commissioners of the State of Oregon, brought by a purchaser of swamp and overflowed lands under the Act of October 26, 1870, in order to restrain the defendants from doing acts which the bill alleges are violations of the plaintiff's contract with the state when he purchased the lands, and which are unconstitutional, destructive of the plaintiff's rights and privileges, and which it is alleged will work irreparable damage and mischief to his property rights so acquired, is not a suit against the state within the meaning of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The cases reviewed in which suits at law or in equity against officials of a state, brought without permission of the state, have been held to be either suits against the state, and therefore brought in violation of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, or, on the other hand, suits against persons who hold office under the state, for illegal acts done by them under color of an unconstitutional law of the state, and therefore not suits against the state.