Generalized or Widespread Injuries.

Persons do not have standing to sue in federal court when all they can claim is that they have an interest or have suffered an injury that is shared by all members of the public. Thus, a group of persons suing as citizens to litigate a contention that membership of Members of Congress in the military reserves constituted a violation of Article I, § 6, cl. 2, was denied standing.401 “The only interest all citizens share in the claim advanced by respondents is one which presents injury in the abstract. . . . [The] claimed nonobservance [of the clause], standing alone, would adversely affect only the generalized interest of all citizens in constitutional governance.”402

Notwithstanding that a generalized injury that all citizens share is insufficient to confer standing, where a plaintiff alleges that the defendant’s action injures him in “a concrete and personal way,” “it does not matter how many [other] persons have [also] been injured. . . . [W]here a harm is concrete, though widely shared, the Court has found injury in fact.”403


Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208 (1974). [Back to text]
418 U.S. at 217. See also United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166, 176–77 (1974); Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 483 (1982); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 754 (1984); Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149 (1990); Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 573–77 (1992); Lance v. Coffman, 549 U.S. 437, 441 (2007) (per curiam). Cf. Ex parte Levitt, 302 U.S. 633 (1937); Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1 (1972). [Back to text]
Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 549 U.S. 497, 517, 522 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). In this case, “EPA maintain[ed] that because greenhouse gas emissions inflict widespread harm, the doctrine of standing presents an insuperable jurisdictional obstacle.” The Court, however, found that “EPA’s steadfast refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions presents a risk of harm to Massachusetts that is both ‘actual’ and ‘imminent.’ ” Id. at 517, 521. [Back to text]