Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356 (2001)

This U.S. Supreme Court case raised the issue of whether the "sovereign immunity" clause of the Eleventh Amendment prohibits public employees, including faculty members, from suing public institutions, including colleges and universities, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for damages. In August 2000 AAUP joined a brief authored by the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), which asserted that an extensive record demonstrates public sector employment discrimination against the disabled. AAUP is concerned that holding public entities, such as state universities, immune from the ADA would impair the ability of professors to protect themselves from disability discrimination in the workplace.

Status: In February 2001 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that states, including public universities and colleges, should be immune from lawsuits by individuals seeking monetary damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Chief Justice Rehnquist authored the majority opinion, finding that in enacting the ADA, Congress had failed to show "a history and pattern of unconstitutional employment discrimination by the states against the disabled." A copy of the decision is available at