Nevada Dep't of Human Resources v. Hibbs
Nevada Dep't of Human Resources v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721 (2003), was a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court applying the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 against state governments, putting 5 million state workers under the protection of that federal law. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote a surprisingly liberal opinion for the 6-3 majority, using strongly feminist language submitted in an amicus curiae brief by the United States.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a strong dissent, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, in which Justice Kennedy stated that the FMLA did not abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court because:
- Eleventh Amendment immunity cannot be abrogated without proof of a pattern of unconstitutional acts by the states, and even then the remedy must be limited to what is congruent and proportional; and neither of these requirements were met by the FMLA.