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The Lawfare Podcast: Andrew Tutt on the Torres Case, State Sovereign Immunity, and Congress's War Powers

By Jen Patja Howell
Monday, August 22, 2022, 5:01 AM

One of the last decisions that the Supreme Court handed down this year was Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety. Le Roy Torres, an Iraq war veteran and Texas state trooper, sued the state of Texas after he was denied an employment accommodation for injuries he sustained while on duty. The question in the case was whether the federal law that Torres sued under could subject states themselves to legal liability. In other words, as a constitutional matter, can Congress, when legislating under its war powers, limit the normal sovereign immunity that state governments enjoy? This is an important question, not just for veterans who want to vindicate their rights, but also more broadly because Congress's war powers are some of the broadest and most consequential that the federal government possesses.

Lawfare senior editor Alan Rozenshtein talked through these issues with Andrew Tutt, a lawyer at the law firm of Arnold & Porter, who argued and won the case on behalf of Torres before the Supreme Court.