Standing

Standing in the United States

The requirement that a real dispute exist between the prospective parties to a lawsuit. Standing must be established in order to proceed in either federal or state courts, although the requirements differ somewhat. The concept of standing has several important components. Federal judicial power extends to cases or controversies through Article III of the U.S. Constitution. This has been interpreted to mean that bona fide disputes must exist if judicial resolution is to be sought. The federal courts are thus unable to respond to hypothetical or friendly suits, and they cannot render advisory opinions. This is generally true at the state level as well, but some state courts may issue advisory opinions. Standing means that the plaintiff bringing suit must have suffered direct injury, and the injury must be protected by constitutional or statutory provisions. This means suits cannot be brought by a third party or someone indirectly related to the legal injury. Further, each suit must specify the remedy being sought from the court. The burden rests with the plaintiff to define what relief the court might order. Standing also relates to the timing of a suit. A court must find a suit ripe, which means that all other avenues of possible relief must have been exhausted. Similarly, a case will not be entertained by a court if events have made pursuit of the original remedy inappropriate. A case that is too late is considered moot because there is no longer an adversarial situation. Exceptions will be made when the limited duration of a situation or condition interferes with the litigation of issues. Abortion cases demonstrate the need for such an exception.

See Also

Controversy (Civil Process) Justiciable Issue (Civil Process) Mootness (Civil Process) Ripeness (Civil Process) Taxpayer Suit (Civil Process).

Analysis and Relevance

Standing is discussed in several important Supreme Court decisions. The matter was first raised in Frothingharn vs. Mellon (262 U.S. 447: 1923). Frothingharn attempted to enjoin the implementation of a federal program by claiming injury by virtue of paying federal taxes. The Supreme Court denied standing and suggested that Frothingham’s injury was shared by millions of others. The injury was therefore “comparatively minute and indeterminate.” A plaintiff seeking review of a federal statute must be able to show “direct injury as the result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers in some indefinite way in common with people generally.” Inability to establish such injury will prevent consideration of the constitutional issue regardless of how real and pressing the issue may be. The Frothingharn precedent lasted as an absolute barrier to judicial review of congressional spending legislation by taxpayers until Flast v. Cohen (392 U.S. 83: 1968). The Court held in Flast that a taxpayer could achieve standing by showing a “nexus” between the taxpayer and the challenged program. Flast involved a challenge to federal aid to private as well as public elementary schools. The Warren Court found the relationship among the federal taxing power, the payment of federal taxes, and First Amendment protections against establishment of religion adequate to produce standing. Flast immediately raised questions about judicial review of congressional spending initiatives. It distinguished between the Frothingharn direct injury requirement and the litigant who might be acting on behalf of broader public rights. The Supreme Court has shown since Flast that access is still difficult. In United States v. Richardson (418 U.S. 166: 1974), the Court refused to allow a taxpayer to inquire into Central Intelligence Agency appropriations. The Court said that allowing “unrestricted taxpayer standing would significantly alter the allocation of power at the national level.” Another case, Schlesinger v. Reservists’ Committee to Stop the War (418 U.S. 208: 1974), challenged the military reserve status of more than a hundred members of Congress. The Court denied standing, saying that to allow such a challenge by someone who has no concrete injury would require the Court to respond to issues in the abstract. The Court said this would create the potential abuse of the judicial process and distortion of the role of the Judiciary (U.S.). Standing too easily granted would open the courts to an arguable charge of government by the Judiciary (U.S.). Taxpayers can establish standing more easily in state courts.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Standing from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Practical Information

Note: Some of this information was last updated in 1982

The legal right of one person to challenge in court the conduct of another person. A person has standing to sue if he or she has a personal stake in the outcome of the case.

(Revised by Ann De Vries)

What is Standing?

For a meaning of it, read Standing in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Standing.

Standing in Environmental Law

A qualification for bringing a lawsuit. Before a per son has the right to sue, it must have a protectable interest in the outcome. For example, the defendant in the case must have caused or threatened to cause an injury that will harm the plaintiff. It is not enough to have an intellectual or philosophical interest in the outcome; the plaintiff must be able to show that he or she is directly involved.

For environmental cases, the concept of standing was difficult at first. Public interest groups might value a natural resource that will be injured by proposed development, but that type of interest is too general to confer standing. On the other hand, if particular members of the group allege that they use the resource and their enjoyment will be directly harmed, the group may be able to bring the lawsuit on their behalf.

Early environmental cases spelled out a number of principles involved in standing. In Sierra Club v. Morton, decided in 1972, the Supreme Court denied standing to the Sierra Club, which was trying to stop development of Mineral King Valley. However, the complaint did not allege that Sierra Club members used the area or that they would be affected by the development. The court stated the person seeking review must be among the injured and there must be an injury in fact: \\\\”Mere interest in a problem by a representative of the public is not enough.\\\\”

In 1973, an organization called Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP) sued the Interstate Commerce Commission because it allowed an increase in rail rates for recyclable materials. SCRAP members, law students from the Washington, D.C., area, alleged that members would be harmed because natural resource use would increase and air pollution in the area would worsen. In United States v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures, the Supreme Court found that the organization had standing.

A later case, Duke Power Company v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, was based on a challenge to a statute that allowed two nuclear power plants to be constructed. Individuals who lived in the area joined together and sued for future possible harm, present fear, and thermal pollution and radioactive emissions. The Supreme Court found standing on the issues of thermal pollution and radioactive emissions but was unconvinced on the other issues.

Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, a 1990 decision, questioned the validity of the United States v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures case. The National Wildlife Federation had sued the Department of Interior for its program to allow reclassification of lands so they can be used for mining. Although the members alleged that their recreational and aesthetic enjoyment of public lands would be injured by the reclassification, the Supreme Court held that the allegations were not specific enough. In the court’s opinion, the challenge was premature and the plaintiffs had to wait until a particular piece of property was reclassified.

Attacks on agency actions and against persons who are alleged to be violating environmental laws may be authorized by statute. In those situations, usually based on citizen suit provisions of various environmental laws, the plaintiff must simply show that he or she is included in the group allowed to sue. The Administrative Procedure Act also gives standing to certain persons who are or may be injured by an administrative agency’s action.
Based on \\\\”Environment and the Law. A Dictionary\\\\”.

Standing

United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled STANDINGIn the United States, unelected, life-tenured federal judges may decide legal issues only when they are asked to do so by appropriate litigants. Such litigants are said to have standing to raise certain legal claims, including constitutional claims, in the federal courts.A litigant’s
(read more about Constitutional law entries here).

Some Constitutional Law Popular Entries

Standing

United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled STANDING Standing law defines those who may obtain judicial redress in federal court. In suits between private individuals, there is usually little analytical difficulty in determining what constitutes judicial cognizable injury and thus who has standing to sue. But in suits by private
(read more about Constitutional law entries here).

Some Constitutional Law Popular Entries

Standing in Environmental Law

A qualification for bringing a lawsuit. Before a per son has the right to sue, it must have a protectable interest in the outcome. For example, the defendant in the case must have caused or threatened to cause an injury that will harm the plaintiff. It is not enough to have an intellectual or philosophical interest in the outcome; the plaintiff must be able to show that he or she is directly involved.

For environmental cases, the concept of standing was difficult at first. Public interest groups might value a natural resource that will be injured by proposed development, but that type of interest is too general to confer standing. On the other hand, if particular members of the group allege that they use the resource and their enjoyment will be directly harmed, the group may be able to bring the lawsuit on their behalf.

Early environmental cases spelled out a number of principles involved in standing. In Sierra Club v. Morton, decided in 1972, the Supreme Court denied standing to the Sierra Club, which was trying to stop development of Mineral King Valley. However, the complaint did not allege that Sierra Club members used the area or that they would be affected by the development. The court stated the person seeking review must be among the injured and there must be an injury in fact: “Mere interest in a problem by a representative of the public is not enough.”

In 1973, an organization called Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP) sued the Interstate Commerce Commission because it allowed an increase in rail rates for recyclable materials. SCRAP members, law students from the Washington, D.C., area, alleged that members would be harmed because natural resource use would increase and air pollution in the area would worsen. In United States v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures, the Supreme Court found that the organization had standing.

A later case, Duke Power Company v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, was based on a challenge to a statute that allowed two nuclear power plants to be constructed. Individuals who lived in the area joined together and sued for future possible harm, present fear, and thermal pollution and radioactive emissions. The Supreme Court found standing on the issues of thermal pollution and radioactive emissions but was unconvinced on the other issues.

Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, a 1990 decision, questioned the validity of the United States v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures case. The National Wildlife Federation had sued the Department of Interior for its program to allow reclassification of lands so they can be used for mining. Although the members alleged that their recreational and aesthetic enjoyment of public lands would be injured by the reclassification, the Supreme Court held that the allegations were not specific enough. In the court’s opinion, the challenge was premature and the plaintiffs had to wait until a particular piece of property was reclassified.

Attacks on agency actions and against persons who are alleged to be violating environmental laws may be authorized by statute. In those situations, usually based on citizen suit provisions of various environmental laws, the plaintiff must simply show that he or she is included in the group allowed to sue. The Administrative Procedure Act also gives standing to certain persons who are or may be injured by an administrative agency’s action.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Standing (Justiciability)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of standing. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Justiciability is provided. Finally, the subject of Civil Procedure in relation with standing is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Standing (Private Actions)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of standing. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Private Actions is provided. Finally, the subject of Antitrust, Trade Law in relation with standing is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Standing (Reviewability)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of standing. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Reviewability is provided. Finally, the subject of Judicial Review in relation with standing is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Resources

See Also

  • Legal Topics.
  • Judicial Review.

    Further Reading (Articles)

    Standing desks sit well with workers, Sunday Gazette-Mail; June 26, 2011; Laura Casey

    Standing O-verkill ; Western New York audiences are quick to their feet when showering praise on performances — making standing ovations a much more common and indiscriminate reward, The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); January 13, 2008; Colin Dabkowski

    Standing on the Edge: Standing Doctrine and the Injury Requirement at the Borders of Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Vanderbilt Law Review; April 1, 2012; Myers, Mary Alexander;

    Standing and social choice: historical evidence., University of Pennsylvania Law Review; December 1, 1995; Stearns, Maxwell L.

    Standing and the Statutory Universe, Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum; March 22, 2001; Buzbee, William W.

    STANDING ORDER; after Police Eject a Group of Fans for Allegedly Refusing to Sit Down during a Match, We Ask If It’s Time to Bring Back the Traditional Football Terraces, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); November 21, 2011

    Standing (Update), Encyclopedia of the American Constitution; January 1, 2000

    Standing on the Precipice: Privacy Litigation and Standing Requirements, Mondaq Business Briefing; November 27, 2012

    Standing’s Expected Value, Michigan Law Review; May 1, 2013; Nash, Jonathan Remy

    Standing on Its Head: The Problem of Future Claimants in Mass Tort Class Actions, Texas Law Review; November 1, 1998; Gaston, Jeremy

    STANDING OVATION; Last Month Record Sport Led Calls for the SPL to Review Its Policy on All-Seater Stadia… Now Change Is on the Way and the Majority of Our Clubs Are Delighted, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); December 20, 2011

    Standing without Injury?, Trial; March 1, 2012; Funk, William

    Standing for nonparents seeking custody or guardianship of minors after In re R.L.S.: the recent Illinois Supreme Court case In re R.L.S. created different standing requirements for nonparents seeking to bring custody petitions under the IMDMA and petitions for guardianships of minors under the Probate Act, requiring petitioners to prove distinct elements based upon which petition they bring.(Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act), Illinois Bar Journal; February 1, 2007; Seckel, Roman J.

    Standing Rock Telecommunications Wins Federal Funding Support For Tribally Owned Wireless Network.(Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc. ), Mondaq Business Briefing; July 4, 2011

    Standing orders extend rural nursing practice and patient access; there are few reports about the use of standing orders in New Zealand. A study in Opotiki sheds light on how standing orders can be used safely and increase patients’ access to services.(PRACTICE)(Report), Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand; April 1, 2009; Scott-Jones, Jo Young, Frances Keir, Dorothy Lawrenson, Ross

    Standing Requirements In California UCL Cases Brought In Federal Court In The Wake Of Tobacco II And Kwikset.(Case overview), Mondaq Business Briefing; March 1, 2012

    The Enigma of Standing Doctrine in Texas Courts, The Review of Litigation; October 1, 2008; Dorsaneo, William V., III

    HENRY THOMAS STANDING ELK, JR. SENTENCED IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT., States News Service; November 8, 2011

    Federal Government Standing Committee Provides First Indications of the Content of Pending Regulatory Reform, Mondaq Business Briefing; March 21, 2012

    Patent Issued for Modular Standing Frame, Journal of Engineering; November 13, 2013

    Standing: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

    Federal Primary Materials

    The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Standing. This part provides references, in relation to Standing, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

    Federal primary materials about Standing by content types:

    Laws and Regulations

    US Constitution
    Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

    Federal Case Law and Court Materials

    U.S. Courts of Appeals
    United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

    Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

    Presidential Materials

    Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

    Executive Materials

    Federal Legislative History Materials

    Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Standing and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Standing or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

    State Administrative Materials and Resources

    State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Standing and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Standing. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Standing should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

    State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

    State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Standing when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

    Tools and Forms

    Law in Other Regions

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