What Is Sovereign Immunity? A Closer Look At One Of Gov. Kemp’s Vetoes
Among the list of legislations Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed recently? HB 311, which would have waived some instances of sovereign immunity. That’s the principle that prevents anyone from suing branches of the government directly.
WABE’s Emma Hurt spoke with lawyer Don Samuel about it.
Samuel argued unsuccessfully against sovereign immunity on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union in a case before the Georgia Supreme Court in 2017, Lathrop v. Deal.
That laid part of the groundwork for Kemp’s veto. Kemp argued in his veto statement that Lathrop v. Deal and other cases have “provided a path for suits to be brought against the state,” which Samuel outlines.
Kemp also argued that there are existing exceptions to sovereign immunity, “including breach of contract and tort claims against state officers and employees while such individuals are acting within the scope of their official duties of employment.”
Former Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a similar measure in 2016.
A note of disclosure: Samuel is the father of WABE environment reporter Molly Samuel.