Sleeper Case on the High Court Docket

In its first argument of the new term, the Supreme Court will examine the power of federal judges to hold state officials to their promises in federal consent decrees despite claims of sovereign immunity.

It's not the sexiest of three pending federalism cases over 11th Amendment immunity from private suits. But, court scholars say, it has potentially enormous practical importance. Frew v. Hawkins, No. 02-628.

Stemming from a Texas class action, it challenges the power of federal courts to enforce their judgments, bringing to the fore many states' unhappiness with long-running federal court supervision of state institutional reforms. The outcome could affect the ability of civil rights plaintiffs to force state officials to shoulder their responsibilities under federal laws.

The National Law Journal reports the story here.