There are three main exceptions to the sovereign immunity of a state. First,
The Eleventh Amendment does not stop a federal court from issuing an
injunction against a state official who is violating federal law. Although the
state official may be abiding by state law, he is not permitted to violate federal
law, and a federal court can order him to stop the action with an injunction.[
Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908)
] Money damages are possible against the
state officer, as long as the damages are attributable to the officer himself,
and are not paid from the state treasury. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232
The Eleventh Amendment does not automatically protect political subdivisions
of the state from liability. Moor v. County of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693 (1973).
The main factor is whether the damages would come out of the state treasury.
Hess v. Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp., 115 S. Ct. 394 (1994), If the state
would have to pay for damages from the state treasury, then the Eleventh
Amendment will serve as a shield from liability. Other factors may include the
amount of state control and how state law defines the subdivision, although
the Supreme Court has never issued a comprehensive guideline. Eleventh
Amendment immunity does not protect municipal corporations or other
governmental entities that are not political subdivisions of the state, such as
cities, counties, or school boards.
Finally, the states surrendered a portion of the sovereign immunity that had
been preserved for them by the Constitution when the Fourteenth Amendment
was adopted. Therefore, Congress may authorize private suits against non-
consenting states to enforce the constitutional guarantees of the Fourteenth
Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment is a constitutional limit on federal
subject matter jurisdiction, and Congress can override it by statute only
pursuant to the § 5 enforcement power of the Fourteenth Amendment.