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Bench Book - No Protection for Local Governments

Eleventh Amendment immunity does not extend to the political subdivisions of a state (its municipalities and counties) or to the officers and employees of those subdivisions. Mt. Healthy Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274 (1977). Those entities may therefore be sued in federal court as far as the Eleventh Amendment is concerned, although other immunities, discussed below, may apply.

Not every state organizes its probation and parole officers in the same way, and in some cases it will not be clear whether they are state officers or local officers for the purposes of an Eleventh Amendment analysis. For instance, in Hankins, discussed in the subsection immediately above, the court concluded that “county” probation offices in Arkansas were actually local branches of a state agency and that officers sued in their official capacity under Section 1983 were therefore immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. 2012 WL 3201947, at *5.