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British Journal of American Legal Studies


Sovereign immunity is a legal fiction that forecloses the possibility of the government being hailed into court, except by its own permission. The fiction draws on narratives about kingship and realm, state and church, and property and owner that help shield the sovereign from challenges to its authority. This Article argues that sovereign immunity’s legal sources relied on relationships between king and church, king and property, and king and constitution to articulate an authority that could not be challenged by its subjects. This Article suggests that, absent other normative stories that support sovereign immunity, the doctrine remains empty of substance other than the legitimating of authority in the face of legal challenges.


Reprinted from British Journal of American Legal Studies. Copyright 2015.

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