The right of individuals to sue a state depends entirely on the
consent of that state.
Whether an amendment of the Ohio Constitution (Art. I, § 16, as
amended 1912) gives such consent directly or requires legislation
to put it into effect held
a question of local law in no
sense involving rights under the due process clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment of individuals suing the state for damage to
Page 248 U. S. 33
The Fifth Amendment relates to federal action only.
Upon error to a state court, this Court, finding no substantial
federal question, will dismiss sua sponte,
motion to affirm.
Writ of error or to review 96 Ohio St. 513 dismissed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
MR. JUSTICE CLARKE delivered the opinion of the Court.
The plaintiffs in error sued the State of Ohio for damages for
flooding lands by elevating the spillway of a state-maintained dam.
The supreme court of the state affirmed the action of the lower
courts in dismissing the petition on the ground that the state had
not consented so to be sued, and we are asked to review this
The plaintiffs in error agree, as they must, that their suit
cannot be maintained without the consent of the state, but they
claim that such consent was given in an amendment to § 16 of
Article I of the state constitution, adopted in 1912, which
"Suits may be brought against the state, in such courts and
in such manner, as may be provided by law.
The state supreme court held that this amendment is not
self-executing, and that, the general assembly of the state having
failed to designate the courts and the manner in which such suits
might be brought, effective consent to sue had not been given. This
decision, the plaintiffs in error claim, vaguely and indefinitely,
somehow deprives them of their property without due process of law,
Page 248 U. S. 34
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the
The right of individuals to sue a state in either a federal or a
state court cannot be derived from the Constitution or laws of the
United States. It can come only from the consent of the state.
20 How. 527; Railroad Co. v.
Tennessee, 101 U. S. 337
Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U. S. 1
Ohio gave the required consent must be determined by the
construction to be given to the constitutional amendment quoted,
and this is a question of local state law, as to which the decision
of the state supreme court is controlling with this Court, no
federal right being involved. Elmendorf v.
10 Wheat. 152, 23 U. S. 159
Old Colony Trust Co. v. Omaha, 230 U.
, 230 U. S. 116
Memphis Street Ry. Co. v. Moore, 243 U.
, 243 U. S.
The further claim that the plaintiffs in error are deprived of
their property without compensation in violation of the Fifth
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is palpably
groundless. Barron v.
7 Pet. 243, 32 U. S. 250
Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U. S. 172
175 U. S.
No federal question being presented by the record, the motion to
affirm is denied, and this Court sua sponte
writ of error for want of jurisdiction.