U.S. Supreme Court
Smith v. Reeves, 178 U.S. 436 (1900)
Smith v. Reeves
Argued April 16, 1900
Decided May 14, 1900
178 U.S. 436
Within the meaning of the constitutional provisions relating to actions instituted by private persons against a state, this suit, though in form against an officer of the California, is in fact against the state itself.
By § 3669 of the Political Code of California, which provides that any person dissatisfied with the assessment made upon him by the State Board of Equalization, may, after payment and on the conditions named in the act, bring an action against the state treasurer for the recovery of the amount of taxes and percentage so paid to the treasurer, or any part thereof, the state has not consented to be sued except in its own courts.
It was competent for the state to couple with its consent to be sued on account of taxes alleged to have been exacted under illegal assessments made by the state board the condition that the suit be brought in one of its own courts.
A suit brought against a state by one of its citizens is excluded from the judicial power of the United States even when it is one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the same rule applies to suits of a like character brought by federal corporations against a state without its consent.
The case is stated in the opinion.