New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



Forthcoming in Federal Courts Stories


This is a chapter in the forthcoming federal courts stories. Ex parte Young is a central part of the federal courts canon, yet the underlying historical details are little known or understood. This is unfortunate. Many cases in the canon are contested by advocates of greater or lesser federal court intervention. Ex parte Young, however, is bedrock, almost universally admired across the ideological spectrum. At the time, though, this decision opening the doors to federal court was widely condemned by progressives who disdained judicial involvement in economic legislation. The Story of Ex Parte Young tells of the cases’ origins in Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, shedding light on how we should understand this now widely-accepted decision.

Date of Authorship for this Version

May 2009