Supreme Court: State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. US ex rel. Stevens

**  A qui tam suit raises no constitutional concerns under the Eleventh Amendment or associated principles of state sovereign immunity. “In ratifying the Constitution, the States consented to suits brought by other states or by the Federal Government.” Alden v. Maine, 119 S.Ct. 2240, 2267 (1999). The United States is a real party in interest in qui tam suits under the False Claims Act, which seek to vindicate the United States’ sovereign and proprietary interests. Because a qui tam relator sues on behalf of the United States, her suit qualifies as a suit by the United States for purposes of the states’ immunity waiver. Any requirement that the United States’ interests be advanced only by executive branch officials would run counter to the framers’ original understanding.

**  States are “persons” subject to liability under the False Claims Act. Any contrary determination would apply to suits initiated by the Department of Justice as well as by relators, and thus would deprive the Department of its most effective weapon against fraud. Moreover, this interpretation is supported by conventional modes of statutory construction, including text, purpose, history, and established usage. And not only is the federalism-based “plain statement” rule this Court sometimes invokes to limit private actions against states inapposite here, but state liability under the False Claims Act actually preserves the traditional balance of federalism by precluding one state from siphoning into its own coffers some of the federal funds intended to benefit the entire country.​

Download the Amicus Brief here.