JUDICIAL POWER AND JURISDICTION-CASES AND CONTROVERSIES
The potential for abuse of judicial power was of concern to the Founding Fathers, leading them to establish limits on the circumstance in which the courts could consider cases. When, late in the Convention, a delegate proposed to extend the judicial power beyond the consideration of laws and treaties to include cases arising under the Constitution, Madison’s notes captured these concerns. “Mr. Madison doubted whether it was not going too far to extend the jurisdiction of the Court generally to cases arising under the Constitution, and whether it ought not to be limited to cases of a Judiciary Nature. The right of expounding the Constitution in cases not of this nature ought not to be given to that Department.” Consequently, “[t]he motion of Docr. Johnson was agreed to nem : con : it being generally supposed that the jurisdiction given was constructively limited to cases of a Judiciary nature—.”359
This passage, and the language of Article III, § 2, makes clear that the Framers did not intend for federal judges to roam at large in construing the Constitution and laws of the United States, but rather preferred and provided for resolution of disputes arising in a “judicial” manner. This interpretation is reenforced by the refusal of the Convention to assign the judges the extra-judicial functions which some members of the Convention—Madison and Wilson notably—conceived for them. Thus, for instance, the Convention four times voted down proposals for judges, along with executive branch officials, to sit on a council of revision with the power to veto laws passed by Congress.360 A similar fate befell suggestions that the Chief Justice be a member of a privy council to assist the President361 and that the President or either House of Congress be able to request advisory opinions of the Supreme Court.362 The intent of the Framers in rejecting the latter proposal was early effectuated when the Justices declined a request of President Washington to tender him advice respecting legal issues growing out of United States neutrality between England and France in 1793.363 Moreover, the refusal of the Justices to participate in a congressional plan for awarding veterans’ pensions364 bespoke a similar adherence to the restricted role of courts. These restrictions have been encapsulated in a series of principles or doctrines, the application of which determines whether an issue is met for judicial resolution and whether the parties raising it are entitled to have it judicially resolved. Constitutional restrictions are intertwined with prudential considerations in the expression of these principles and doctrines, and it is seldom easy to separate out the two strands.365
The Two Classes of Cases and Controversies
By the terms of the foregoing section, the judicial power extends to nine classes of cases and controversies, which fall into two general groups. In the words of Chief Justice Marshall in Cohens v. Virginia:366 “In the first, jurisdiction depends on the character of the cause, whoever may be the parties. This class comprehends ‘all cases in law and equity arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority.’ This cause extends the jurisdiction of the court to all the cases described, without making in its terms any exception whatever, and without any regard to the condition of the party. If there be any exception, it is to be implied, against the express words of the article. In the second class, the jurisdiction depends entirely on the character of the parties. In this are comprehended ‘controversies between two or more states, between a state and citizens of another state,’ and ‘between a state and foreign states, citizens or subjects.’ If these be the parties, it is entirely unimportant, what may be the subject of controversy. Be it what it may, these parties have a constitutional right to come into the courts of the Union.”367
Judicial power is “the power of a court to decide and pronounce a judgment and carry it into effect between persons and parties who bring a case before it for decision.”368 The meaning attached to the terms “cases” and “controversies”369 determines therefore the extent of the judicial power as well as the capacity of the federal courts to receive jurisdiction. According to Chief Justice Marshall, judicial power is capable of acting only when the subject is submitted in a case and a case arises only when a party asserts his rights “in a form prescribed by law.”370 “By cases and controversies are intended the claims of litigants brought before the courts for determination by such regular proceedings as are established by law or custom for the protection or enforcement of rights, or the prevention, redress, or punishment of wrongs. Whenever the claim of a party under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States takes such a form that the judicial power is capable of acting upon it, then it has become a case. The term implies the existence of present or possible adverse parties whose contentions are submitted to the Court for adjudication.”371
Chief Justice Hughes once essayed a definition, which, however, presents a substantial problem of labels. “A ‘controversy’ in this sense must be one that is appropriate for judicial determination. A justiciable controversy is thus distinguished from a difference or dispute of a hypothetical character; from one that is academic or moot. The controversy must be definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests. It must be a real and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.”372 Of the “case” and “controversy” requirement, Chief Justice Warren admitted that “those two words have an iceberg quality, containing beneath their surface simplicity submerged complexities which go to the very heart of our constitutional form of government. Embodied in the words ‘cases’ and ‘controversies’ are two complementary but somewhat different limitations. In part those words limit the business of federal courts to questions presented in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of resolution through the judicial process. And in part those words define the role assigned to the judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power to assure that the federal courts will not intrude into areas committed to the other branches of government. Justiciability is the term of art employed to give expression to this dual limitation placed upon federal courts by the case and controversy doctrine.”373 Justice Frankfurter perhaps best captured the flavor of the “case” and “controversy” requirement by noting that it takes the “expert feel of lawyers” often to note it.374
From these quotations may be isolated several factors which, in one degree or another, go to make up a “case” and “controversy.”
The presence of adverse litigants with real interests to contend for is a standard which has been stressed in numerous cases,375 and the requirement implicates a number of complementary factors making up a justiciable suit. The requirement was one of the decisive factors, if not the decisive one, in Muskrat v. United States,376 in which the Court struck down a statute authorizing certain named Indians to bring a test suit against the United States to determine the validity of a law affecting the allocation of Indian lands. Attorney’s fees of both sides were to be paid out of tribal funds deposited in the United States Treasury. “The judicial power,” said the Court, “. . . is the right to determine actual controversies arising between adverse litigants, duly instituted in courts of proper jurisdiction. . . . It is true the United States is made a defendant to this action, but it has no interest adverse to the claimants. The object is not to assert a property right as against the government, or to demand compensation for alleged wrongs because of action upon its part. The whole purpose of the law is to determine the constitutional validity of this class of legislation, in a suit not arising between parties concerning a property right necessarily involved in the decision in question, but in a proceeding against the government in its sovereign capacity, and concerning which the only judgment required is to settle the doubtful character of the legislation in question.”377
Concerns regarding adversity also arise when the executive branch chooses to enforce, but not defend in court, federal statutes that it has concluded are unconstitutional. In United States v. Windsor,378 the Court considered the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which excludes same-sex partners from the definition of “spouse” as used in federal statutes.379 DOMA was challenged by the surviving member of a same-sex couple (married in Canada), who was seeking to claim a spousal federal estate tax exemption. Although the executive branch continued to deny the exemption, it also declined to defend the statute based on doubts as to whether it would survive scrutiny under the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Consequently, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives (BLAG)380 intervened to defend the statute. The Court held that, despite the decision not to defend, the failure of the United States to provide a refund to the taxpayer constituted an injury sufficient to establish standing, leaving only “prudential” limitations on judicial review at issue.
381 The Court concluded that the “prudential” concerns were outweighed by the presence of BLAG to offer an adversarial presentation of the issue, the legal uncertainty that would be caused by dismissing the case, and the concern that the executive branch’s assessment of the constitutionality of the statute would be immunized from judicial review.382
Collusive and Feigned Suits.
Adverse litigants are lacking in those suits in which two parties have gotten together to bring a friendly suit to settle a question of interest to them. Thus, in Lord v. Veazie,383 the latter had executed a deed to the former warranting that he had certain rights claimed by a third person, and suit was instituted to decide the “dispute.” Declaring that “the whole proceeding was in contempt of the court, and highly reprehensible,” the Court observed: “The contract set out in the pleadings was made for the purpose of instituting this suit. . . . The plaintiff and defendant are attempting to procure the opinion of this court upon a question of law, in the decision of which they have a common interest opposed to that of other persons, who are not parties to the suit. . . . And their conduct is the more objectionable, because they have brought up the question upon a statement of facts agreed upon between themselves . . . and upon a judgment pro forma entered by their mutual consent, without any actual judicial decision. . . .”384 “Whenever,” said the Court in another case, “in pursuance of an honest and actual antagonistic assertion of rights by one individual against another, there is presented a question involving the validity of any act of any legislature, State or federal, and the decision necessarily rests on the competency of the legislature to so enact, the court must . . . determine whether the act be constitutional or not; but such an exercise of power is the ultimate and supreme function of courts. It is legitimate only in the last resort, and as a necessity in the determination of real, earnest and vital controversy between individuals. It never was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative act.”385 Yet several widely known constitutional decisions have been rendered in cases in which friendly parties contrived to have the actions brought and in which the suits were supervised and financed by one side.386 There are also instances in which there may not be in fact an adverse party at certain stages; that is, instances when the parties do not actually disagree, but where the Supreme Court and the lower courts are empowered to adjudicate.387
Moreover, adversity in parties has often been found in suits by stockholders against their corporation in which the constitutionality of a statute or a government action is drawn in question, even though one may suspect that the interests of plaintiffs and defendant are not all that dissimilar. Thus, in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co.,388 the Court sustained the jurisdiction of a district court which had enjoined the company from paying an income tax even though the suit was brought by a stockholder against the company, thereby circumventing a statute which forbade the maintenance in any court of a suit to restrain the collection of any tax.389 Subsequently, the Court sustained jurisdiction in cases brought by a stockholder to restrain a company from investing its funds in farm loan bonds issued by federal land banks390 and by preferred stockholders against a utility company and the TVA to enjoin the performance of contracts between the company and TVA on the ground that the statute creating it was unconstitutional.391 Perhaps most notorious was Carter v. Carter Coal Co.,392 in which the president of the company brought suit against the company and its officials, among whom was Carter’s father, a vice president of the company, and in which the Court entertained the suit and decided the case on the merits.393
Substantial Interest: Standing
Perhaps the most important element of the requirement of adverse parties may be found in the “complexities and vagaries” of the standing doctrine. “The fundamental aspect of standing is that it focuses on the party seeking to get his complaint before a federal court and not on the issues he wishes to have adjudicated.”394 The “gist of the question of standing” is whether the party seeking relief has “alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.”395 This practical conception of standing has now given way to a primary emphasis upon separation of powers as the guide. “[T]he ‘case or controversy’ requirement defines with respect to the Judicial Branch the idea of separation of powers on which the Federal Government is founded. The several doctrines that have grown up to elaborate that requirement are ‘founded in concern about the proper—and properly limited— role of the courts in a democratic society.’ ”396
Standing as a doctrine is composed of both constitutional and prudential restraints on the power of the federal courts to render decisions,397 and is almost exclusively concerned with such public law questions as determinations of constitutionality and review of administrative or other governmental action.398 As such, it is often interpreted according to the prevailing philosophies of judicial activism and restraint, and narrowly or broadly in terms of the viewed desirability of access to the courts by persons seeking to challenge legislation or other governmental action. The trend in the 1960s was to broaden access; in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, it was to narrow access by stiffening the requirements of standing, although Court majorities were not entirely consistent. The major difficulty in setting forth the standards is that the Court’s generalizations and the results it achieves are often at variance.399
The standing rules apply to actions brought in federal courts, and they have no direct application to actions brought in state courts.400
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
Save for a narrow exception, standing is also lacking when a litigant attempts to sue to contest governmental action that he claims injures him as a taxpayer. In Frothingham v. Mellon,404 the Court denied standing to a taxpayer suing to restrain disbursements of federal money to those states that chose to participate in a program to reduce maternal and infant mortality; her claim was that Congress lacked power to appropriate funds for those purposes and that the appropriations would increase her taxes in future years in an unconstitutional manner. Noting that a federal taxpayer’s “interest in the moneys of the Treasury . . . is comparatively minute and indeterminate” and that “the effect upon future taxation, of any payment out of the funds . . . [is] remote, fluctuating and uncertain,” the Court ruled that plaintiff had failed to allege the type of “direct injury” necessary to confer standing.405
Taxpayers were found to have standing, however, in Flast v. Cohen,406 to contest the expenditure of federal moneys to assist religious-affiliated organizations. The Court asserted that the answer to the question whether taxpayers have standing depends on whether the circumstances of each case demonstrate that there is a logical nexus between the status asserted and the claim sought to be adjudicated. First, there must be a logical link between the status of taxpayer and the type of legislative enactment attacked; this means that a taxpayer must allege the unconstitutionality only of exercises of congressional power under the taxing and spending clause of Article I, § 8, rather than also of incidental expenditure of funds in the administration of an essentially regulatory statute. Second, there must be a logical nexus between the status of taxpayer and the precise nature of the constitutional infringement alleged; this means that the taxpayer must show that the challenged enactment exceeds specific constitutional limitations imposed upon the exercise of the taxing and spending power, rather than simply arguing that the enactment is generally beyond the powers delegated to Congress. Both Frothingham and Flast met the first test, because they attacked a spending program. Flast met the second test, because the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment operates as a specific limitation upon the exercise of the taxing and spending power, but Frothingham did not, having alleged only that the Tenth Amendment had been exceeded. The Court reserved the question whether other specific limitations constrain the Taxing and Spending Clause in the same manner as the Establishment Clause.407
Since Flast, the Court has refused to expand taxpayer standing. Litigants seeking standing as taxpayers to challenge legislation permitting the CIA to withhold from the public detailed information about its expenditures as a violation of Article I, § 9, cl. 7, and to challenge certain Members of Congress from holding commissions in the reserves as a violation of Article I, § 6, cl. 2, were denied standing, in the former cases because their challenge was not to an exercise of the taxing and spending power and in the latter because their challenge was not to legislation enacted under Article I, § 8, but rather was to executive action in permitting Members to maintain their reserve status.408 An organization promoting church-state separation was denied standing to challenge an executive decision to donate surplus federal property to a church-related college, both because the contest was to executive action under valid legislation and because the property transfer was not pursuant to a Taxing and Spending Clause exercise but was taken under the Property Clause of Article IV, § 3, cl. 2.409 The Court also refused to create an exception for Commerce Clause violations to the general prohibition on taxpayer standing.410
Most recently, a Court plurality held that, even in Establishment Clause cases, there is no taxpayer standing where the expenditure of funds that is challenged was not specifically authorized by Congress, but came from general executive branch appropriations.411
Where expenditures “were not expressly authorized or mandated by any specific congressional enactment,” a lawsuit challenging them “is not directed at an exercise of congressional power and thus lacks the requisite ‘logical nexus’ between taxpayer status ‘and the type of legislative enactment attacked.’ ”412
Local taxpayers attacking local expenditures have generally been permitted more leeway than federal taxpayers insofar as standing is concerned. Thus, in Everson v. Board of Education,413 a municipal taxpayer was found to have standing to challenge the use of public funds for transportation of pupils to parochial schools.414 But, in Doremus v. Board of Education,415 the Court refused an appeal from a state court for lack of standing of a taxpayer challenging Bible reading in the classroom. The taxpayer’s action in Doremus, the Court wrote, “is not a direct dollars-and-cents injury but is a religious difference.”416 This rationale was similar to the spending program-regulatory program distinction of Flast. But, even a dollar-and-cents injury resulting from a state spending program will apparently not constitute a direct dollars-and-cents injury. The Court in Doremus wrote that a taxpayer challenging either a federal or a state statute “must be able to show not only that the statute is invalid but that he has sustained or is in immediate danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers in some indefinite way in common with people generally.”417
Constitutional Standards: Injury in Fact, Causation, and Redressability.
Although the Court has been inconsistent, it has now settled upon the rule that, “at an irreducible minimum,” the constitutional requisites under Article III for the existence of standing are that the plaintiff must personally have: 1) suffered some actual or threatened injury; 2) that injury can fairly be traced to the challenged action of the defendant; and 3) that the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision.418
For a time, the actual or threatened injury requirement noted above included an additional requirement that such injury be the product of “a wrong which directly results in the violation of a legal right.”419 In other words, the injury needs to be “one of property, one arising out of contract, one protected against tortuous invasion, or one founded in a statute which confers a privilege.”420 It became apparent, however, that the “legal right” language was “demonstrably circular: if the plaintiff is given standing to assert his claims, his interest is legally protected; if he is denied standing, his interest is not legally protected.”421 Despite this test, the observable tendency of the Court was to find standing in cases which were grounded in injuries far removed from property rights.422
In any event, the “legal rights” language has now been dispensed with. Rejection of this doctrine occurred in two administrative law cases in which the Court announced that parties had standing when they suffered “injury in fact” to some interest, “economic or otherwise,” that is arguably within the zone of interest to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional provision in question.423 Political,424 environmental, aesthetic, and social interests, when impaired, now afford a basis for making constitutional attacks upon governmental action.425 “But deprivation of a procedural right without some concrete interest that is affected by the deprivation—a procedural right in vacuo—is insufficient to create Article III standing.”426 Moreover, while Congress has the power to define injuries and articulate “chains of causation” that will give rise to a case or controversy, a plaintiff does not “automatically satisf[y] the injury-in-fact requirement whenever a statute grants a person a statutory right and purports to authorize a person to sue to vindicate that right.”427
The breadth of the “injury-in-fact” concept may be discerned in a series of cases involving the right of private parties to bring actions under the Fair Housing Act to challenge alleged discriminatory practices, even where discriminatory action was not directed against parties to a suit, Theses case held that the subjective and intangible interests of enjoying the benefits of living in integrated communities were sufficient to permit them to attack actions that threatened or harmed those interests.428 Or, there is important case of FEC v. Akins,429 which addresses the ability of Congress to confer standing and to remove prudential constraints on judicial review. Congress had afforded persons access to Commission information and had authorized “any person aggrieved” by the actions of the FEC to sue. The Court found “injury-in-fact” present where plaintiff voters alleged that the Federal Election Commission had denied them information respecting an organization that might or might not be a political action committee.430 Another area where the Court has interpreted this term liberally are injuries to the interests of individuals and associations of individuals who use the environment, affording them standing to challenge actions that threatened those environmental conditions.431
Even citizens who bring qui tam actions under the False Claims Act—actions that entitle the plaintiff (“relator”) to a percentage of any civil penalty assessed for violation—have been held to have standing, on the theory that the government has assigned a portion of its damages claim to the plaintiff, and the assignee of a claim has standing to assert the injury in fact suffered by the assignor.432 Citing this holding and historical precedent, the Court upheld the standing of an assignee who had promised to remit the proceeds of the litigation to the assignor.433 The Court noted that “federal courts routinely entertain suits which will result in relief for parties that are not themselves directly bringing suit. Trustees bring suits to benefit their trusts; guardians at litem bring suits to benefit their wards; receivers bring suit to benefit their receiverships; assignees in bankruptcy bring suit to benefit bankrupt estates; and so forth.”434
Beyond these historical anomalies, the Court has indicated that, for parties lacking an individualized injury to seek judicial relief on behalf of an absent third party, there generally must be some sort of agency relationship between the litigant and the injured party. In Hollingsworth v. Perry,435 the Court considered the question of whether the official proponents of Proposition 8,436 a state measure that amended the California Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, had standing to defend the constitutionality of the provision on appeal. After rejecting the argument that the proponents of Proposition 8 had a particularized injury in their own right,437 the Court considered the argument that the plaintiffs were formally authorized through some sort of official act to litigate on behalf of the State of California.
Although the proponents were authorized by California law to argue in defense of the proposition,438 the Court found that this authorization, by itself, was insufficient to create standing. The Court expressed concern that, although California law authorized the proponents to argue in favor of Proposition 8, the proponents were still acting as private individuals, not as state officials439 or as agents that were controlled by the state.440 Because the proponents did not act as agents or official representatives of the State of California in defending the law, the Court held that the proponents only possessed a generalized interest in arguing in defense of Proposition 8 and, therefore, lacked standing to appeal an adverse district court decision.
Nonetheless, the Court has been wary in constitutional cases of granting standing to persons who alleged threats or harm to interests that they shared with the larger community of people at large; it is unclear whether this rule against airing “generalized grievances” through the courts441 has a constitutional or a prudential basis.442
In a number of cases, particularly where a plaintiff seeks prospective relief, such as an injunction or declaratory relief, the Supreme Court has strictly construed the nature of the injury-in-fact necessary to obtain such judicial remedy. First, the Court has been hesitant to assume jurisdiction over matters in which the plaintiff seeking relief cannot articulate a concrete harm.443 For example, in Laird v. Tatum, the Court held that plaintiffs challenging a domestic surveillance program lacked standing when their alleged injury stemmed from a “subjective chill,” as opposed to a “claim of specific present objective harm or a threat of specific future harm.”444 And in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, the Court explained that a concrete injury requires that an injury must “actually exist” or there must be a “risk of real harm,” such that a plaintiff who alleges nothing more than a bare procedural violation of a federal statute cannot satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement.445 Second, the Court has required plaintiffs seeking equitable relief to demonstrate that the risk of a future injury is of a sufficient likelihood; past injury is insufficient to create standing to seek prospective relief.446 The Court has articulated the threshold of likelihood of future injury necessary for standing in such cases in various ways,447 generally refusing to find standing where the risk of future injury is speculative.448
More recently, in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, the Court held that, in order to demonstrate Article III standing, a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief must prove that the future injury, which is the basis for the relief sought, must be “certainly impending”; a showing of a “reasonable likelihood” of future injury is insufficient.449 Moreover, the Court in Amnesty International held that a plaintiff cannot satisfy the imminence requirement by merely “manufacturing” costs incurred in response to speculative, non-imminent injuries.450
A year after Amnesty International, the Court in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus451 reaffirmed that preenforcement challenges to a statute can occur “under circumstances that render the threatened enforcement sufficiently imminent.”452 In Susan B. Anthony List, an organization planning to disseminate a political advertisement, which was previously the source of an administrative complaint under an Ohio law prohibiting making false statements about a candidate or a candidate’s record during a political campaign, challenged the prospective enforcement of that law. The Court, in finding that the plaintiff ’s future injury was certainly impending, relied on the history of prior enforcement of the law with respect to the advertisement, coupled with the facts that “any person” could file a complaint under the law, and any threat of enforcement of the law could burden political speech.453
Of increasing importance are causation and redressability, the second and third elements of standing, recently developed and held to be of constitutional requisite. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of; that is, the Court insists that the plaintiff show that “but for” the action, she would not have been injured. And the Court has insisted that there must be a “substantial likelihood” that the relief sought from the court if granted would remedy the harm.454 Thus, poor people who had been denied service at certain hospitals were held to lack standing to challenge IRS policy of extending tax benefits to hospitals that did not serve indigents, because they could not show that alteration of the tax policy would cause the hospitals to alter their policies and treat them.455 Or, low-income persons seeking the invalidation of a town’s restrictive zoning ordinance were held to lack standing, because they had failed to allege with sufficient particularity that the complained-of injury—inability to obtain adequate housing within their means—was fairly attributable to the ordinance instead of to other factors, so that voiding of the ordinance might not have any effect upon their ability to find affordable housing.456 Similarly, the link between fully integrated public schools and allegedly lax administration of tax policy permitting benefits to discriminatory private schools was deemed too tenuous, the harm flowing from private actors not before the courts and the speculative possibility that directing denial of benefits would result in any minority child being admitted to a school.457
But the Court did permit plaintiffs to attack the constitutionality of a law limiting the liability of private utilities in the event of nuclear accidents and providing for indemnification, on a showing that “but for” the passage of the law there was a “substantial likelihood,” based upon industry testimony and other material in the legislative history, that the nuclear power plants would not be constructed and that therefore the environmental and aesthetic harm alleged by plaintiffs would not occur; thus, a voiding of the law would likely relieve the plaintiffs of the complained of injuries.458 And in a case where a creditor challenged a bankruptcy court’s structured dismissal of a Chapter 11 case that denied the creditor the opportunity to obtain a settlement or assert a claim with “litigation value,” the Court held that a decision in the creditor’s favor was likely to redress the loss.459 Operation of these requirements makes difficult but not impossible the establishment of standing by persons indirectly injured by governmental action, that is, action taken as to third parties that is alleged to have injured the claimants as a consequence.460
In a case permitting a plaintiff contractors’ association to challenge an affirmative-action, set-aside program, the Court seemed to depart from several restrictive standing decisions in which it had held that the claims of attempted litigants were too “speculative” or too “contingent.”461 The association had sued, alleging that many of its members “regularly bid on and perform construction work” for the city and that they would have bid on the set-aside contracts but for the restrictions. The Court found the association had standing, because certain prior cases under the Equal Protection Clause established a relevant proposition. “When the government erects a barrier that makes it more difficult for members of one group to obtain a benefit than it is for members of another group, a member of the former group seeking to challenge the barrier need not allege that he would have obtained the benefit but for the barrier in order to establish standing. The ‘injury in fact’ in an equal protection case of this variety is the denial of equal treatment resulting from the imposition of the barrier, not the ultimate inability to obtain the benefit.”462 The association, therefore, established standing by alleging that its members were able and ready to bid on contracts but that a discriminatory policy prevented them from doing so on an equal basis.463
Redressability can be present in an environmental “citizen suit” even when the remedy is civil penalties payable to the government. The civil penalties, the Court explained, “carried with them a deterrent effect that made it likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the penalties would redress [plaintiffs’] injuries by abating current violations and preventing future ones.”464
Prudential Standing Rules.
Even when Article III constitu- tional standing rules have been satisfied, the Court has held that principles of prudence may counsel the judiciary to refuse to adjudicate some claims.465 The rule is “not meant to be especially demanding,”466 and it is clear that the Court feels free to disregard any of these prudential rules when it sees fit.467 Congress is also free to legislate away prudential restraints and confer standing to the extent permitted by Article III.468 The Court has identified three rules as prudential ones,469 only one of which has been a significant factor in the jurisprudence of standing. The first two rules are that the plaintiff ’s interest, to which she asserts an injury, must come within the “zone of interest” arguably protected by the constitutional provision or statute in question470 and that plaintiffs may not air “generalized grievances” shared by all or a large class of citizens.471 The important rule concerns the ability of a plaintiff to represent the constitutional rights of third parties not before the court.
Standing to Assert the Rights of Others.
Usually, one may assert only one’s interest in the litigation and not challenge the constitutionality of a statute or a governmental action because it infringes the protectable rights of someone else.472 In Tileston v. Ullman,473 an early round in the attack on a state anti-contraceptive law, a doctor sued, charging that he was prevented from giving his patients needed birth control advice. The Court held that he had no standing; no right of his was infringed, and he could not represent the interests of his patients.
There are several exceptions to the general rule, however, that make generalization misleading. Many cases allow standing to third parties who demonstrate a requisite degree of injury to themselves and if under the circumstances the injured parties whom they seek to represent would likely not be able to assert their rights. Thus, in Barrows v. Jackson,474 a white defendant who was being sued for damages for breach of a restrictive covenant directed against African Americans—and therefore able to show injury in liability for damages—was held to have standing to assert the rights of the class of persons whose constitutional rights were infringed.475 Similarly, the Court has permitted defendants who have been convicted under state law—giving them the requisite injury—to assert the rights of those persons not before the Court whose rights would be adversely affected through enforcement of the law in question.476 In fact, the Court has permitted persons who would be subject to future prosecution or future legal action—thus satisfying the injury requirement—to represent the rights of third parties with whom the challenged law has interfered with a relationship.477
It is also possible, of course, that one’s own rights can be affected by action directed at someone from another group.478 A substantial dispute was occasioned in Singleton v. Wulff,479 over the standing of doctors who were denied Medicaid funds for the performance of abortions not “medically indicated” to assert the rights of absent women to compensated abortions. All the Justices thought the Court should be hesitant to resolve a controversy on the basis of the rights of third parties, but they divided with respect to the standards exceptions. Four Justices favored a lenient standard, permitting third party representation when there is a close, perhaps confidential, relationship between the litigant and the third parties and when there is some genuine obstacle to third party assertion of their rights; four Justices would have permitted a litigant to assert the rights of third parties only when government directly interdicted the relationship between the litigant and the third parties through the criminal process and when litigation by the third parties is in all practicable terms impossible.480 Following Wulff, the Court emphasized the close attorney-client relationship in holding that a lawyer had standing to assert his client’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel in challenging application of a drug-forfeiture law to deprive the client of the means of paying counsel.481 A “next friend” that is asserting the rights of another must establish that he has a “close relationship” with the real party in interest who is unable to litigate his own cause because of a “hindrance,”482 such as mental incapacity, lack of access to courts, or other disability.483
A variant of the general rule is that one may not assert the unconstitutionality of a statute in other respects when the statute is constitutional as to him.484 Again, the exceptions may be more important than the rule. Thus, an overly broad statute, especially one that regulates speech and press, may be considered on its face rather than as applied, and a defendant to whom the statute constitutionally applies may thereby be enabled to assert its unconstitutionality.485
Legal challenges based upon the allocation of governmental authority under the Constitution, e.g., separation of powers and federalism, are generally based on a showing of injury to the disadvantaged governmental institution. The prohibition on litigating the injuries of others, however, does not appear to bar individuals from bringing these suits. For instance, injured private parties routinely bring separation-of-powers challenges,486 even though one could argue that the injury in question is actually upon the authority of the affected branch of government. Then, in Bond v. United States,487 the Court considered whether a criminal defendant could raise federalism arguments based on state prerogatives under the Tenth Amendment.488 There, the Court held that individuals could raise Tenth Amendment challenges, because states are not the “sole intended beneficiaries of federalism,” and an individual has a “direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balance between the National Government and the States . . . .”489
Organizations do not have stand- ing as such to represent their particular concept of the public interest,490 but organizations have been permitted to assert the rights of their members.491 In Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm’n,492 the Court promulgated elaborate standards, holding that an organization or association “has standing to bring suit on behalf of its members when: (a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization’s purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted, nor the relief requested, requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.” Similar considerations arise in the context of class actions, in which the Court holds that a named representative with a justiciable claim for relief is necessary when the action is filed and when the class is certified, but that following class certification there need be only a live controversy with the class, provided the adequacy of the representation is sufficient.493
Standing of States to Represent Their Citizens.
The right of a state to sue as parens patriae, in behalf of its citizens, has long been recognized.494 No state, however, may be parens patriae of its citizens “as against the Federal Government.”495 But a state may sue to protect the its citizens from environmental harm,496 and to enjoin other states and private parties from engaging in actions harmful to the economic or other well-being of it citizens.497 The state must be more than a nominal party without a real interest of its own, merely representing the interests of particular citizens who cannot represent themselves;498 it must articulate an interest apart from those of private parties that partakes of a “quasi-sovereign interest” in the health and well-being, both physical and economic, of its residents in general, although there are suggestions that the restrictive definition grows out of the Court’s wish to constrain its original jurisdiction and may not fit such suits brought in the lower federal courts.499
Standing of Members of Congress.
The lower federal courts, principally the D.C. Circuit, developed a body of law governing the standing of Members of Congress, as Members, to bring court actions, usually to challenge actions of the executive branch.500 When the Supreme Court finally addressed the issue on the merits in 1997, however, it severely curtailed Member standing.501 All agree that a legislator “receives no special consideration in the standing inquiry,”502 and that he, along with every other person attempting to invoke the aid of a federal court, must show “injury in fact” as a predicate to standing.503 What such injury in fact may consist of, however, has been the subject of debate.
A suit by Members for an injunction against continued prosecution of the Indochina war was held maintainable on the theory that if the court found the President’s actions to be beyond his constitutional authority, the holding would have a distinct and significant bearing upon the Members’ duties to vote appropriations and other supportive legislation and to consider impeachment.504 The breadth of this rationale was disapproved in subsequent cases. The leading decision is Kennedy v. Sampson,505 in which a Member was held to have standing to contest the alleged improper use of a pocket veto to prevent from becoming law a bill the Senator had voted for. Thus, Congressmen were held to have a derivative rather than direct interest in protecting their votes, which was sufficient for standing purposes, when some “legislative disenfranchisement” occurred.506 In a comprehensive assessment of its position, the Circuit distinguished between (1) a diminution in congressional influence resulting from executive action that nullifies a specific congressional vote or opportunity to vote in an objectively verifiable manner, which will constitute injury in fact, and (2) a diminution in a legislator’s effectiveness, subjectively judged by him, resulting from executive action, such a failing to obey a statute, where the plaintiff legislator has power to act through the legislative process, in which injury in fact does not exist.507 Having thus established a fairly broad concept of Member standing, the Circuit then proceeded to curtail it by holding that the equitable discretion of the court to deny relief should be exercised in many cases in which a Member had standing but in which issues of separation of powers, political questions, and other justiciability considerations counseled restraint.508
Member or legislator standing has been severely curtailed, although not quite abolished, in Raines v. Byrd.509 Several Members of Congress, who had voted against passage of the Line Item Veto Act, sued in their official capacities as Members of Congress to invalidate the law, alleging standing based on the theory that the statute adversely affected their constitutionally prescribed lawmaking power.510 Emphasizing its use of standing doctrine to maintain separation-of-powers principles, the Court adhered to its holdings that, in order to possess the requisite standing, a person must establish that he has a “personal stake” in the dispute and that the alleged injury suffered is particularized as to him.511 Neither requirement, the Court held, was met by these legislators. First, the Members did not suffer a particularized loss that distinguished them from their colleagues or from Congress as an entity. Second, the Members did not claim that they had been deprived of anything to which they were personally entitled. “[A]ppellees’ claim of standing is based on loss of political power, not loss of any private right, which would make the injury more concrete. . . . If one of the Members were to retire tomorrow, he would no longer have a claim; the claim would be possessed by his successor instead. The claimed injury thus runs (in a sense) with the Member’s seat, a seat which the Member holds . . . as trustee for his constituents, not as a prerogative of personal power.”512
So, there is no such thing as Member standing? Not necessarily so, because the Court turned immediately to preserving (at least a truncated version of) Coleman v. Miller,513 in which the Court had found that 20 of the 40 members of a state legislature had standing to sue to challenge the loss of the effectiveness of their votes as a result of a tie-breaker by the lieutenant governor. Although there are several possible explanations for the result in that case, the Court in Raines chose to fasten on a particularly narrow point. “[O]ur holding in Coleman stands (at most . . .) for the proposition that legislators whose votes would have been sufficient to defeat (or enact) a specific legislative Act have standing to sue if that legislative action goes into effect (or does not go into effect), on the ground that their votes have been completely nullified.”514 Because these Members could still pass or reject appropriations bills, vote to repeal the Act, or exempt any appropriations bill from presidential cancellation, the Act did not nullify their votes and thus give them standing.515
In a subsequent case, the Court reaffirmed the continued viability of Coleman516 in concluding that legislators, when authorized by the legislature, could have standing to assert an “institutional injury” to that legislative body.517 Specifically, the Court held in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission that the Arizona legislature had standing to challenge the validity of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and the commission’s 2012 map of congressional districts because the legislature had been “stripped” of what the plaintiff considered its “exclusive constitutionally guarded role” in redistricting.518 Comparing the Arizona legislature’s role to the “institutional injury” suffered by the plaintiffs in Coleman, the Court viewed the Arizona legislators’ injury as akin to that of the Coleman legislators. Specifically, the Court likened the instant case to Coleman because the Arizona Constitution and the ballot initiative that provided for redistricting by an independent commission “completely nullif[y]” any vote “now or ‘in the future’ ” by the legislature “purporting to adopt a redistricting plan.”519 However, in Arizona State Legislature, the Court left open the question of whether Congress, in a lawsuit against the President over an institutional injury to the legislative branch, would likewise have standing, as such a lawsuit would “raise separation-of-powers concerns absent” in the case before the Court.520
Standing to Challenge Lawfulness of Governmental Action.
Standing to challenge governmental action on statutory or other non-constitutional grounds has a constitutional content to the degree that Article III requires a “case” or “controversy,” necessitating a litigant who has sustained or will sustain an injury so that he will be moved to present the issue “in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution.”521 Liberalization of standing in the administrative law field has been notable.
The “old law” required that in order to sue to contest the lawfulness of agency administrative action, one must have suffered a “legal wrong,” that is, “the right invaded must be a legal right,”522 requiring some resolution of the merits preliminarily. An injury-in-fact was insufficient. A “legal right” could be established in one of two ways. It could be a common-law right, such that if the injury were administered by a private party, one could sue on it;523 or it could be a right created by the Constitution or a statute.524 The statutory right most relied on was the judicial review section of the Administrative Procedure Act, which provided that “[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof.”525 Early decisions under this statute interpreted the language as adopting the “legal interest” and “legal wrong” standard then prevailing as constitutional requirements of standing, which generally had the effect of limiting the type of injury cognizable in federal court to economic ones.526
In 1970, however, the Court promulgated a two-pronged standing test: if the litigant (1) has suffered injury-in-fact and if he (2) shows that the interest he seeks to protect is arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statutory guarantee in question, he has standing.527 Of even greater importance was the expansion of the nature of the cognizable injury beyond economic injury to encompass “aesthetic, conservational, and recreational” interests as well.528 “Aesthetic and environmental well-being, like economic well-being, are important ingredients of the quality of life in our society, and the fact that particular environmental interests are shared by the many rather than the few does not make them less deserving of legal protection through the judicial process.”529 Thus, plaintiffs who pleaded that they used the natural resources of the Washington area, that rail freight rates would deter the recycling of used goods, and that their use of natural resources would be disturbed by the adverse environmental impact caused by the nonuse of recyclable goods, had standing as “persons aggrieved” to challenge the rates set. Neither the large numbers of persons allegedly injured nor the indirect and less perceptible harm to the environment was justification to deny standing. The Court granted that the plaintiffs might never be able to establish the “attenuated line of causation” from rate setting to injury, but that was a matter for proof at trial, not for resolution on the pleadings.530
Much debate has occurred in recent years with respect to the validity of “citizen suit” provisions in the environmental laws, especially in light of the Court’s retrenchment in constitutional standing cases. The Court in insisting on injury in fact as well as causation and redressability has curbed access to citizen suits,531 but that Congress may expansively confer substantial degrees of standing through statutory creations of interests remains true.
The Requirement of a Real Interest
Almost inseparable from the requirements of adverse parties and substantial enough interests to confer standing is the requirement that a real issue be presented, as contrasted with speculative, abstract, hypothetical, or moot issues. It has long been the Court’s “considered practice not to decide abstract, hypothetical or contingent questions.”532 A party cannot maintain a suit “for a mere declaration in the air.”533 In Texas v. ICC,534 the State attempted to enjoin the enforcement of the Transportation Act of 1920 on the ground that it invaded the reserved rights of the State. The Court dismissed the complaint as presenting no case or controversy, declaring: “It is only where rights, in themselves appropriate subjects of judicial cognizance, are being, or about to be, affected prejudicially by the application or enforcement of a statute that its validity may be called in question by a suitor and determined by an exertion of the judicial power.”535 And in Ashwander v. TVA,536 the Court refused to decide any issue save that of the validity of the contracts between the Authority and the Company. “The pronouncements, policies and program of the Tennessee Valley Authority and its directors, their motives and desires, did not give rise to a justiciable controversy save as they had fruition in action of a definite and concrete character constituting an actual or threatened interference with the rights of the person complaining.”537
Concepts of real interest and abstract questions appeared prominently in United Public Workers v. Mitchell,538 an omnibus attack on the constitutionality of the Hatch Act prohibitions on political activities by governmental employees. With one exception, none of the plaintiffs had violated the Act, though they stated they desired to engage in forbidden political actions. The Court found no justiciable controversy except in regard to the one, calling for “concrete legal issues, presented in actual cases, not abstractions,” and seeing the suit as really an attack on the political expediency of the Act.
In 1793, the Court unanimously refused to grant the request of President Washington and Secretary of State Jefferson to construe the treaties and laws of the United States pertaining to questions of international law arising out of the wars of the French Revolution.540 Noting the constitutional separation of powers and functions in his reply, Chief Justice Jay said: “These being in certain respects checks upon each other, and our being Judges of a Court in the last resort, are considerations which afford strong arguments against the propriety of our extra-judicially deciding the questions alluded to, especially as the power given by the Constitution to the President, of calling on the heads of departments for opinions, seem to have been purposely as well as expressly united to the Executive departments.”541 Although the Court has generally adhered to its refusal, Justice Jackson was not quite correct when he termed the policy a “firm and unvarying practice. . . .”542 The Justices in response to a letter calling for suggestions on improvements in the operation of the courts drafted a letter suggesting that circuit duty for the Justices was unconstitutional, but they apparently never sent it;543 Justice Johnson communicated to President Monroe, apparently with the knowledge and approval of the other Justices, the views of the Justices on the constitutionality of internal improvements legislation;544 and Chief Justice Hughes in a letter to Senator Wheeler on President Roosevelt’s Court Plan questioned the constitutionality of a proposal to increase the membership and have the Court sit in divisions.545 Other Justices have individually served as advisers and confidants of Presidents in one degree or another.546
Nonetheless, the Court has generally adhered to the early precedent and would no doubt have developed the rule in any event, as a logical application of the case and controversy doctrine. As Justice Jackson wrote when the Court refused to review an order of the Civil Aeronautics Board, which in effect was a mere recommendation to the President for his final action: “To revise or review an administrative decision which has only the force of a recommendation to the President would be to render an advisory opinion in its most obnoxious form—advice that the President has not asked, tendered at the demand of a private litigant, on a subject concededly within the President’s exclusive, ultimate control. This Court early and wisely determined that it would not give advisory opinions even when asked by the Chief Executive. It has also been the firm and unvarying practice of Constitutional Courts to render no judgments not binding and conclusive on the parties and none that are subject to later review or alteration by administrative action.”547 The Court’s early refusal to render advisory opinions has discouraged direct requests for advice so that the advisory opinion has appeared only collaterally in cases where there was a lack of adverse parties,548 or where the judgment of the Court was subject to later review or action by the executive or legislative branches of government,549 or where the issues involved were abstract or contingent.550
Rigid emphasis upon such ele- ments of judicial power as finality of judgment and award of execution coupled with equally rigid emphasis upon adverse parties and real interests as essential elements of a case and controversy created serious doubts about the validity of any federal declaratory judgment procedure.551 These doubts were largely dispelled by Court decisions in the late 1920s and early 1930s,552 and Congress quickly responded with the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934.553 Quickly tested, the Act was unanimously sustained.554 “The principle involved in this form of procedure,” the House report said, “is to confer upon the courts the power to exercise in some instances preventive relief; a function now performed rather clumsily by our equitable proceedings and inadequately by the law courts.”555 The Senate report stated: “The declaratory judgment differs in no essential respect from any other judgment except that it is not followed by a decree for damages, injunction, specific performance, or other immediately coercive decree. It declares conclusively and finally the rights of parties in litigations over a contested issue, a form of relief which often suffices to settle controversies and fully administer justice.”556
The 1934 Act provided that “[i]n cases of actual controversy” federal courts could “declare rights and other legal relations of any interested party petitioning for such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be prayed. . . .”557 Upholding the Act, the Court wrote: “The Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934, in its limitation to ‘cases of actual controversy,’ manifestly has regard to the constitutional provision and is operative only in respect to controversies which are such in the constitutional sense. The word ‘actual’ is one of emphasis rather than of definition. Thus the operation of the Declaratory Judgment Act is procedural only. In providing remedies and defining procedure in relation to cases and controversies in the constitutional sense the Congress is acting within its delegated power over the jurisdiction of the federal courts which the Congress is authorized to establish.”558 Finding that the case presented a definite and concrete controversy, the Court held that a declaration should have been issued.559
The Court has insisted that “the requirements for a justiciable case or controversy are no less strict in a declaratory judgment proceeding than in any other type of suit.”560 As Justice Douglas wrote: “The difference between an abstract question and a ‘controversy’ contemplated by the Declaratory Judgment Act is necessarily one of degree, and it would be difficult, if it would be possible, to fashion a precise test for determining in every case whether there is such a controversy. Basically, the question in each case is whether the facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”561 It remains, therefore, for the courts to determine in each case the degree of controversy necessary to establish a case for purposes of jurisdiction. Even then, however, the Court is under no compulsion to exercise its jurisdiction.562 Use of declaratory judgments to settle disputes and identify rights in many private areas, like insurance and patents in particular but extending into all areas of civil litigation, except taxes,563 is common. The Court has, however, at various times demonstrated a substantial reluctance to have important questions of public law, especially regarding the validity of legislation, resolved by such a procedure.564 In part, this has been accomplished by a strict insistence upon concreteness, ripeness, and the like.565 Nonetheless, even at such times, several noteworthy constitutional decisions were rendered in declaratory judgment actions.566
As part of the 1960s hospitality to greater access to courts, the Court exhibited a greater receptivity to declaratory judgments in constitutional litigation, especially cases involving civil liberties issues.567 The doctrinal underpinnings of this hospitality were sketched out by Justice Brennan in his opinion for the Court in Zwickler v. Koota,568 in which the relevance to declaratory judgments of the Dombrowski v. Pfister569 line of cases involving federal injunctive relief against the enforcement of state criminal statutes was in issue. First, it was held that the vesting of “federal question” jurisdiction in the federal courts by Congress following the Civil War, as well as the enactment of more specific civil rights jurisdictional statutes, “imposed the duty upon all levels of the federal judiciary to give due respect to a suitor’s choice of a federal forum for the hearing and decision of his federal constitutional claims.”570 Escape from that duty might be found only in “narrow circumstances,” such as an appropriate application of the abstention doctrine, which was not proper where a statute affecting civil liberties was so broad as to reach protected activities as well as unprotected activities. Second, the judicially developed doctrine that a litigant must show “special circumstances” to justify the issuance of a federal injunction against the enforcement of state criminal laws is not applicable to requests for federal declaratory relief: “a federal district court has the duty to decide the appropriateness and the merits of the declaratory request irrespective of its conclusion as to the propriety of the issuance of the injunction.”571 This language was qualified subsequently, so that declaratory and injunctive relief were equated in cases in which a criminal prosecution is pending in state court at the time the federal action is filed572 or is begun in state court after the filing of the federal action but before any proceedings of substance have taken place in federal court,573 and federal courts were instructed not to issue declaratory judgments in the absence of the factors permitting issuance of injunctions under the same circumstances. But in the absence of a pending state action or the subsequent and timely filing of one, a request for a declaratory judgment that a statute or ordinance is unconstitutional does not have to meet the stricter requirements justifying the issuance of an injunction.574
Just as standing historically has concerned who may bring an action in federal court, the ripeness doctrine concerns when it may be brought. Formerly, it was a wholly constitutional principle requiring a determination that the events bearing on the substantive issue have happened or are sufficiently certain to occur so as to make adjudication necessary and so as to assure that the issues are sufficiently defined to permit intelligent resolution. The focus was on the harm to the rights claimed rather than on the harm to the plaintiff that gave him standing to bring the action,575 although, to be sure, in most cases the harm is the same. But in liberalizing the doctrine of ripeness in recent years the Court subdivided it into constitutional and prudential parts576 and conflated standing and ripeness considerations.577
The early cases generally required potential plaintiffs to expose themselves to possibly irreparable injury in order to invoke federal judicial review. Thus, in United Public Workers v. Mitchell,578 government employees alleged that they wished to engage in various political activities and that they were deterred from their desires by the Hatch Act prohibitions on political activities. As to all but one plaintiff, who had himself actually engaged in forbidden activity, the Court held itself unable to adjudicate because the plaintiffs were not threatened with “actual interference” with their interests. The Justices viewed the threat to plaintiffs’ rights as hypothetical and refused to speculate about the kinds of political activity they might engage in or the Government’s response to it. “No threat of interference by the Commission with rights of these appellants appears beyond that implied by the existence of the law and the regulations.”579 Similarly, resident aliens planning to work in the Territory of Alaska for the summer and then return to the United States were denied a request for an interpretation of the immigration laws that they would not be treated on their return as excludable aliens entering the United States for the first time, or alternatively, for a ruling that the laws so interpreted would be unconstitutional. The resident aliens had not left the country and attempted to return, although other alien workers had gone and been denied reentry, and the immigration authorities were on record as intending to enforce the laws as they construed them.580 Of course, the Court was not entirely consistent in applying the doctrine.581
It remains good general law that pre-enforcement challenges to criminal and regulatory legislation will often be unripe for judicial consideration because of uncertainty of enforcement,582 because the plaintiffs can allege only a subjective feeling of inhibition or fear arising from the legislation or from enforcement of it,583 or because the courts need before them the details of a concrete factual situation arising from enforcement in order to engage in a reasoned balancing of individual rights and governmental interests.584 But one who challenges a statute or possible administrative action need demonstrate only a realistic danger of sustaining an injury to his rights as a result of the statute’s operation and enforcement and need not await the consummation of the threatened injury in order to obtain preventive relief, such as exposing himself to actual arrest or prosecution. When one alleges an intention to engage in conduct arguably affected with a constitutional interest but proscribed by statute and there exists a credible threat of prosecution thereunder, he may bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief.585 Similarly, the reasonable certainty of the occurrence of the perceived threat to a constitutional interest is sufficient to afford a basis for bringing a challenge, provided the court has sufficient facts before it to enable it to intelligently adjudicate the issues.586
Of considerable uncertainty in the law of ripeness is Duke Power, in which the Court held ripe for decision on the merits a challenge to a federal law limiting liability for nuclear accidents at nuclear power plants, on the basis that, because the plaintiffs had sustained an injury-in-fact and had standing, the Article III requisite of ripeness was satisfied and no additional facts arising out of the occurrence of the claimed harm would enable the court better to decide the issues.587 Should this analysis prevail, ripeness as a limitation on justiciability will decline in importance.
A case initially presenting all the attributes neces- sary for federal court litigation may at some point lose some attribute of justiciability and become “moot.” The usual rule is that an actual controversy must exist at all stages of trial and appellate consideration and not simply at the date the action is initiated.588 “Under Article III of the Constitution, federal courts may adjudicate only actual, ongoing cases or controversies. . . . Article III denies federal courts the power ‘to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them,’ . . . and confines them to resolving ‘real and substantial controvers[ies] admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.’ This case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate. To sustain our jurisdiction in the present case, it is not enough that a dispute was very much alive when suit was filed, or when review was obtained in the Court of Appeals. . . . The parties must continue to have a ‘personal stake in the outcome’ of the lawsuit.”589 Because, with the advent of declaratory judgments, it is open to the federal courts to “declare the rights and other legal relations” of the parties with res judicata effect,590 the question in cases alleged to be moot now seems largely if not exclusively to be decided in terms of whether an actual controversy continues to exist between the parties rather than in terms of any additional older concepts.591 So long as concrete, adverse legal interests between the parties continue, a case is not made moot by intervening actions that cast doubt on the practical enforceability of a final judicial order.592
Cases may become moot because of a change in the law,593 or in the status of the parties,594 or because of some act of one of the parties which dissolves the controversy.595 But the Court has developed several exceptions. Thus, in criminal cases, although the sentence of the convicted appellant has been served, the case “is moot only if it is shown that there is no possibility that any collateral legal consequences will be imposed on the basis of the challenged conviction.”596 The “mere possibility” of such a consequence, even a “remote” one, is enough to find that one who has served his sentence has retained the requisite personal stake giving his case “an adversary cast and making it justiciable.”597 This exception has its counterpart in civil litigation in which a lower court judgment may still have certain present or future adverse effects on the challenging party.598
A second exception, the “voluntary cessation” doctrine, focuses on whether challenged conduct which has lapsed or the utilization of a statute which has been superseded is likely to recur.599 Thus, cessation of the challenged activity by the voluntary choice of the person engaging in it, especially if he contends that he was properly engaging in it, will moot the case only if it can be said with assurance “that ‘there is no reasonable expectation that the wrong will be repeated.’ ”600 This amounts to a “formidable burden” of showing with absolute clarity that there is no reasonable prospect of renewed activity.601 Otherwise, “[t]he defendant is free to return to his old ways” and this fact would be enough to prevent mootness because of the “public interest in having the legality of the practices settled.”602 In this vein, the Court in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, informed by principles of contract law, held that an unaccepted offer to settle a lawsuit amounts to a “legal nullity” that fails to bind either party and therefore does not moot the litigation.603
Still a third exception concerns the ability to challenge short-term conduct which may recur in the future, which has been denominated as disputes “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”604 Thus, in cases in which (1) the challenged action is too short in its duration to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or expiration, and (2) there is a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party would be subjected to the same action again, mootness will not be found when the complained-of conduct ends.605 This exception is frequently invoked in cases involving situations of comparatively limited duration, such as elections,606 pregnancies,607 short sentences in criminal cases,608 the award of at least some short-term federal government contracts,609 and the issuance of injunctions that expire in a brief period.610
An interesting and potentially significant liberalization of the law of mootness, perhaps as part of a continuing circumstances exception, is occurring in the context of class action litigation. It is now clearly established that, when the controversy becomes moot as to the plaintiff in a certified class action, it still remains alive for the class he represents so long as an adversary relationship sufficient to constitute a live controversy between the class members and the other party exists.611 The Court was closely divided, however, with respect to the right of the named party, when the substantive controversy became moot as to him, to appeal as error the denial of a motion to certify the class which he sought to represent and which he still sought to represent. The Court held that in the class action setting there are two aspects of the Article III mootness question, the existence of a live controversy and the existence of a personal stake in the outcome for the named class representative.612 Finding a live controversy, the Court determined that the named plaintiff retained a sufficient interest, “a personal stake,” in his claimed right to represent the class in order to satisfy the “imperatives of a dispute capable of judicial resolution;” that is, his continuing interest adequately assures that “sharply presented issues” are placed before the court “in a concrete factual setting” with “self-interested parties vigorously advocating opposing positions.”613
The immediate effect of the decision is that litigation in which class actions are properly certified or in which they should have been certified will rarely ever be mooted if the named plaintiff (or in effect his attorney) chooses to pursue the matter, even though the named plaintiff can no longer obtain any personal relief from the decision sought.614 Of much greater potential significance is the possible extension of the weakening of the “personal stake” requirement in other areas, such as the representation of third-party claims in non-class actions and the initiation of some litigation in the form of a “private attorneys general” pursuit of adjudication.615 In Genesis Healthcare Corporation v. Symczyk,616 the Court appeared to follow the “personal stake” rule applicable to class actions in the context of “collective actions” under the Fair Labor Standards Act, at least to the extent that actions that would moot the plaintiff ’s claims prior to a “conditional certification” by the court would likewise moot the collective action.
Retroactivity Versus Prospectivity.
One of the distinguish- ing features of an advisory opinion is that it lays down a rule to be applied to future cases, much as does legislation generally. It should therefore follow that an Article III court could not decide purely prospective cases, cases which do not govern the rights and disabilities of the parties to the cases.617 The Court asserted that this principle is true, while applying it only to give retroactive effect to the parties to the immediate case.618 Yet, occasionally, the Court did not apply its holding to the parties before it,619 and in a series of cases beginning in the mid-1960s it became embroiled in attempts to limit the retroactive effect of its—primarily but not exclusively620 — constitutional-criminal law decisions. The results have been confusing and unpredictable.621
Prior to 1965, “both the common law and our own decisions recognized a general rule of retrospective effect for the constitutional decisions of this Court . . . subject to [certain] limited exceptions.”622 Statutory and judge-made law have consequences, at least to the extent that people must rely on them in making decisions and shaping their conduct. Therefore, the Court was moved to recognize that there should be a reconciling of constitutional interests reflected in a new rule of law with reliance interests founded upon the old.623 In both criminal and civil cases, however, the Court’s discretion to do so has been constrained by later decisions.
In the 1960s, when the Court began its expansion of the Bill of Rights and applied its rulings to the states, it became necessary to determine the application of the rulings to criminal defendants who had exhausted all direct appeals but who could still resort to habeas corpus, to those who had been convicted but still were on direct appeal, and to those who had allegedly engaged in conduct but who had not gone to trial. At first, the Court drew the line at cases in which judgments of conviction were not yet final, so that all persons in those situations obtained retrospective use of decisions,624 but the Court later promulgated standards for a balancing process that resulted in different degrees of retroactivity in different cases.625 Generally, in cases in which the Court declared a rule that was “a clear break with the past,” it denied retroactivity to all defendants, with the sometime exception of the appellant himself.626 With respect to certain cases in which a new rule was intended to overcome an impairment of the truth-finding function of a criminal trial627 or to cases in which the Court found that a constitutional doctrine barred the conviction or punishment of someone,628 full retroactivity, even to habeas claimants, was the rule. Justice Harlan strongly argued that the Court should sweep away its confusing balancing rules and hold that all defendants whose cases are still pending on direct appeal at the time of a law-changing decision should be entitled to invoke the new rule, but that no habeas claimant should be entitled to benefit.629
The Court later drew a sharp distinction between criminal cases pending on direct review and cases pending on collateral review. For cases on direct review, “a new rule for the conduct of criminal prosecutions is to be applied retroactively to all cases, state or federal, pending on direct review or not yet final, with no exception for cases in which the new rule constitutes a ‘clear break’ with the past.”630 Justice Harlan’s habeas approach was first adopted by a plurality in Teague v. Lane631 and then by the Court in Penry v. Lynaugh.632 Thus, for collateral review in federal courts of state court criminal convictions, the general rule is that “new rules” of constitutional interpretation—those “not ‘dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant’s conviction became final’ ”633 —will not be applied.634 However, “[a] new rule applies retroactively in a collateral proceeding only if (1) the rule is substantive or (2) the rule is a ‘watershed rul[e] of criminal procedure’ implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding.”635 Put another way, a new rule will be applied in a collateral proceeding only if it places certain kinds of conduct “beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to prescribe” or constitutes a “new procedure[ ] without which the likelihood of an accurate conviction is seriously diminished.”636 In Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Court extended the holding of Teague beyond the context of federal habeas review, such that when a new substantive rule of constitutional law controls the outcome of a case, state collateral review courts must give retroactive effect to that rule in the same manner as federal courts engaging in habeas review.637
As a result, at least with regard to the first exception, the Court has held that the Teague rule is constitutionally based,638 as substantive rules set forth categorical guarantees that place certain laws and punishments beyond a state’s power, making “the resulting conviction or sentence . . . by definition . . . unlawful.”639 In contrast, procedural rules are those that are aimed at enhancing the accuracy of a conviction or sentence by regulating the manner of determining the defendant’s guilt.640 As a consequence, with respect to a defendant who did not receive the benefit of a new procedural rule, the possibility exists that the underlying conviction or sentence may “still be accurate” and the “defendant’s continued confinement may still be lawful” under the Constitution.641 In this vein, the Court has described a substantive rule as one that alters the range of conduct that the law punishes, or that prohibits “a certain category of punishment for a class of defendants because of their status or offense.”642
Under the second exception it is “not enough under Teague to say that a new rule is aimed at improving the accuracy of a trial. More is required. A rule that qualifies under this exception must not only improve accuracy, but also alter our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements essential to the fairness of a proceeding.”643
What the rule is to be, and indeed if there is to be a rule, in civil cases has been disputed to a rough draw in recent cases. As was noted above, there is a line of civil cases, constitutional and nonconstitutional, in which the Court has declined to apply new rules, the result often of overruling older cases, retrospectively, sometimes even to the prevailing party in the case.644 As in criminal cases, the creation of new law, through overrulings or otherwise, may result in retroactivity in all instances, in pure prospectivity, or in partial prospectivity in which the prevailing party obtains the results of the new rule but no one else does. In two cases raising the question when states are required to refund taxes collected under a statute that is subsequently ruled unconstitutional, the Court revealed itself to be deeply divided.645 The question in Beam was whether the company could claim a tax refund under an earlier ruling holding unconstitutional the imposition of certain taxes upon its products. The holding of a fractionated Court was that it could seek a refund, because in the earlier ruling the Court had applied the holding to the contesting company, and, once a new rule has been applied retroactively to the litigants in a civil case, considerations of equality and stare decisis compel application to all.646 Although partial or selective prospectivity is thus ruled out, neither pure retroactivity nor pure prospectivity is either required or forbidden.
Four Justices adhered to the principle that new rules, as defined above, may be applied purely prospectively, without violating any tenet of Article III or any other constitutional value.647 Three Justices argued that all prospectivity, whether partial or total, violates Article III by expanding the jurisdiction of the federal courts beyond true cases and controversies.648 Apparently, the Court now has resolved this dispute, although the principal decision was by a five-to-four vote. In Harper v. Virginia Dep’t of Taxation,649 the Court adopted the principle of the Griffith decision in criminal cases and disregarded the Chevron Oil approach in civil cases. Henceforth, in civil cases, the rule is: “When this Court applies a rule of federal law to the parties before it, that rule is the controlling interpretation of federal law and must be given full retroactive effect in all cases open on direct review and as to all events, regardless of whether such events predate or postdate our announcement of the rule.”650 Four Justices continued to adhere to Chevron Oil, however,651 so that with one Justice each retired from the different sides one may not regard the issue as definitively settled.652 Future cases must, therefore, be awaited for resolution of this issue.
In some cases, a court will refuse to adjudicate a case despite the fact that it presents all the qualifications that we have considered to make it a justiciable controversy; it is in its jurisdiction, presented by parties with standing, and it is a case in which adverseness and ripeness exist. Such are cases that present a “political question.” Although the Court has referred to the political question doctrine as “one of the rules basic to the federal system and this Court’s appropriate place within that structure,”653 it has also been remarked that “[i]t is, measured by any of the normal responsibilities of a phrase of definition, one of the least satisfactory terms known to the law. The origin, scope, and purpose of the concept have eluded all attempts at precise statements.”654
It has been suggested that it may be more useful to itemize the categories of questions that have been labeled political rather than to attempt to isolate the factors that a court will consider to identify such cases.655 The Court has to some extent agreed, noting that the criteria applied by the Court in political questions cases can vary depending on the issue involved.656 Regardless of which approach is taken, however, the Court’s narrowing of the rationale for political questions in Baker v. Carr,657 discussed below, appears to have changed the nature of the inquiry radically.
Origins and Development.
In the first decade after ratifica- tion of the Constitution, the Court in Ware v. Hylton658 refused to pass on the question whether a treaty had been broken, and in Martin v. Mott,659 the Court held that the President acting under congressional authorization had exclusive and unreviewable power to determine when the militia should be called out. But the roots of the doctrine are most clearly seen in Marbury v. Madison,660 where Chief Justice Marshall stated: “The province of the court is, solely, to decide on the rights of individuals, not to inquire how the executive, or executive officers, perform duties in which they have a discretion. Questions in their nature political, or which are, by the constitution and laws, submitted to the executive can never be made in this court.”661
In Luther v. Borden,662 however, the Court made clear that the doctrine went beyond considerations of interference with executive functions. This case, arising from the Dorr Rebellion (a period of political unrest in Rhode Island), considered the claims of two competing factions vying to be declared the lawful government of Rhode Island.663 Chief Justice Taney, for the Court, began by saying that the answer was primarily a matter of state law that had been decided in favor of one faction by the state courts.664 Insofar as the Federal Constitution had anything to say on the subject, the Chief Justice continued, that was embodied in the clause empowering the United States to guarantee to every state a republican form of government,665 and this clause committed the determination of that issue to Congress.
“Under this article of the Constitution it rests with Congress to decide what government is the established one in a State. For as the United States guarantee to each State a republican government, Congress must necessarily decide what government is established in the State before it can determine whether it is republican or not. And when the senators and representatives of a State are admitted into the councils of the Union, the authority of the government under which they are appointed, as well as its republican character, is recognized by the proper constitutional authority. And its decision is binding on every other department of the government, and could not be questioned in a judicial tribunal.”666 Here, the contest had not proceeded to a point where Congress had made a decision, “[y]et the right to decide is placed there, and not in the courts.”667
Moreover, in effectuating the provision in the same clause that the United States should protect states against domestic violence, Congress had vested discretion in the President to use troops to protect a state government upon the application of the legislature or the governor. Before he could act upon the application of a legislature or a governor, the President “must determine what body of men constitute the legislature, and who is the governor . . . .” No court could review the President’s exercise of discretion in this respect; no court could recognize as legitimate a group vying against the group recognized by the President as the lawful government.668 Although the President had not actually called out the militia in Rhode Island, he had pledged support to one of the competing governments, and this pledge of military assistance if it were needed had in fact led to the capitulation of the other faction, thus making an effectual and authoritative determination not reviewable by the Court.669
The Doctrine Before Baker v. Carr.
Over the years, the po- litical question doctrine has been applied to preclude adjudication of a variety of other issues. In particular, prior to Baker v. Carr,670 cases challenging the distribution of political power through apportionment and districting,671 weighted voting,672 and restrictions on political action673 were held to present nonjusticiable political questions. Certain factors appear more or less consistently through most of the cases decided before Baker, and it is perhaps best to indicate the cases and issues deemed political before attempting to isolate these factors.
1. Republican Form of Government. By far the most consistent application of the doctrine has been in cases in which litigants asserted claims under the republican form of government clause.674 The attacks were generally either on the government of the state itself675 or involved a challenge regarding the manner in which it had acted.676 There have, however, been cases involving this clause in which the Court has reached the merits.677
2. Recognition of Foreign States. Although there is language in the cases that would, if applied, serve to make all cases touching on foreign affairs and foreign policy political questions,678 whether the courts can adjudicate a dispute in this area has often depended on the context in which it arises. Thus, the determination by the President whether to recognize the government of a foreign state679 or who is the de jure or de facto ruler of a foreign state680 is conclusive on the courts. In the absence of a definitive executive action, however, the courts will review the record to determine whether the United States has accorded a sufficient degree of recognition to allow the courts to take judicial notice of the existence of the state.681 Moreover, the courts have often determined for themselves what effect, if any, should be accorded the acts of foreign powers, recognized or unrecognized.682
3. Treaties. Similarly, the Court, when dealing with treaties and the treaty power, has treated as political questions whether the foreign party had constitutional authority to assume a particular obligation683 and whether a treaty has lapsed because of the foreign state’s loss of independence684 or because of changes in the territorial sovereignty of the foreign state.685 On the other hand, the Court will not only interpret the domestic effects of treaties,686 but it will at times interpret the effects bearing on international matters.687 The Court has generally deferred to the President and Congress with regard to the existence of a state of war and the dates of the beginning and ending and of states of belligerency between foreign powers, but the deference has sometimes been forced.688
4. Enactment or Ratification of Laws. Ordinarily, the Court will not look behind the fact of certification as to whether the standards requisite for the enactment of legislation689 or ratification of a constitutional amendment690 have in fact been met, although it will interpret the Constitution to determine what the basic standards are.691 Further, the Court will decide certain questions if the political branches are in disagreement.692
From this limited review of the principal areas in which the political question doctrine seemed most established, it is possible to extract some factors that seemingly convinced the courts that the issues presented went beyond the judicial responsibility. These factors, stated baldly, would appear to be the lack of requisite information and the difficulty of obtaining it,693 the necessity for uniformity of decision and deference to the wider responsibilities of the political departments,694 and the lack of adequate standards to resolve a dispute.695 But present in all the political cases was (and is) the most important factor: a “prudential” attitude about the exercise of judicial review, which emphasizes that courts should be wary of deciding on the merits any issue in which claims of principle as to the issue and of expediency as to the power and prestige of courts are in sharp conflict. The political question doctrine was (and is) thus a way of avoiding a principled decision damaging to the Court or an expedient decision damaging to the principle.696
Baker v. Carr.
In Baker v. Carr,697 the Court undertook a major reformulation and rationalization of the political question doctrine, which has considerably narrowed its application. Following Baker, the whole of the apportionment-districting-election restriction controversy previously immune to federal-court adjudication was considered and decided on the merits,698 and the Court’s subsequent rejection of the doctrine in other cases disclosed narrowing in other areas as well.699
According to Justice Brennan, who delivered the opinion of the Court, “it is the relationship between the judiciary and the coordinate branches of the Federal Government, and not the federal judiciary’s relationship to the States, which gives rise to the ‘political question.’ ”700 Thus, the “nonjusticiability of a political question is primarily a function of the separation of powers.”701 “Deciding whether a matter has in any measure been committed by the Constitution to another branch of government, or whether the action of that branch exceeds whatever authority has been committed, is itself a delicate exercise in constitutional interpretation, and is a responsibility of this Court as ultimate interpreter of the Constitution.”702 Following a discussion of several areas in which the doctrine had been used, Justice Brennan continued: “It is apparent that several formulations which vary slightly according to the settings in which the questions arise may describe a political question, although each has one or more elements which identify it as essentially a function of the separation of powers.”
The Justice went on to list a variety of factors to be considered, noting that “[p]rominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; or the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion; or the impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; or an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; or the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question.”703
Powell v. McCormack.
Because Baker had apparently restricted the political question doctrine to intrafederal issues, there was no discussion of the doctrine when the Court held that it had power to review and overturn a state legislature’s refusal to seat a member-elect because of his expressed views.704 But in Powell v. McCormack,705 the Court was confronted with a challenge to the exclusion of a member-elect by the United States House of Representatives. Its determination that the political question doctrine did not bar its review of the challenge indicates the narrowness of application of the doctrine in its present state. Taking Justice Brennan’s formulation in Baker of the factors that go to make up a political question,706 Chief Justice Warren determined that the only critical one in this case was whether there was a “textually demonstrable constitutional commitment” to the House to determine in its sole discretion the qualifications of members.707
In order to determine whether there was a textual commitment, the Court reviewed the Constitution, the Convention proceedings, and English and United States legislative practice to ascertain what power had been conferred on the House to judge the qualifications of its members; finding that the Constitution vested the House with power only to look at the qualifications of age, residency, and citizenship, the Court thus decided that in passing on Powell’s conduct and character the House had exceeded the powers committed to it and thus judicial review was not barred by this factor of the political question doctrine.708 Although this approach accords with the “classicist” theory of judicial review,709 it circumscribes the political question doctrine severely, inasmuch as all constitutional questions turn on whether a governmental body has exceeded its specified powers, a determination the Court traditionally makes, whereas traditionally the doctrine precluded the Court from inquiring whether the governmental body had exceeded its powers. In short, the political question consideration may now be one on the merits rather than a decision not to decide.
Chief Justice Warren disposed of the other factors present in political question cases in slightly more than a page. Because resolution of the question turned on an interpretation of the Constitution, a judicial function which must sometimes be exercised “at variance with the construction given the document by another branch,” there was no lack of respect shown another branch. Nor, because the Court is the “ultimate interpreter of the Constitution,” will there be “multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question,” nor, since the Court is merely interpreting the Constitution, is there an “initial policy determination” not suitable for courts. Finally, “judicially . . . manageable standards” are present in the text of the Constitution.710 The effect of Powell was to discard all the Baker factors inhering in a political question, with the exception of the textual commitment factor, and that was interpreted in such a manner as seldom if ever to preclude a judicial decision on the merits.
The Doctrine Reappears.
Despite the apparent narrowing of the doctrine in Baker and Powell, the Court has not abandoned it. Reversing a lower federal court ruling subjecting the training and discipline of National Guard troops to court review and supervision, the Court held that under Article I, § 8, cl. 16, the organizing, arming, and disciplining of such troops are committed to Congress and by congressional enactment to the Executive Branch. “It would be difficult to think of a clearer example of the type of governmental action that was intended by the Constitution to be left to the political branches, directly responsible—as the Judicial Branch is not—to the elective process. Moreover, it is difficult to conceive of an area of governmental activity in which the courts have less competence. The complex, subtle, and professional decisions as to the composition, training, equipping, and control of a military force are essentially professional military judgments, subject always to civilian control of the Legislative and Executive Branches.”711
The suggestion of the infirmity of the political question doctrine was rejected, since “because this doctrine has been held inapplicable to certain carefully delineated situations, it is no reason for federal courts to assume its demise.”712 In staying a grant of remedial relief in another case, the Court strongly suggested that the actions of political parties in national nominating conventions may also present issues not meet for judicial resolution.713 A challenge to the Senate’s interpretation of and exercise of its impeachment powers was held to be nonjusticiable; there was a textually demonstrable commitment of the issue to the Senate, and there was a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the issue.714
Despite the occasional resort to the doctrine, the Court continues to reject its application in language that confines its scope. Thus, when parties challenged the actions of the Secretary of Commerce in declining to certify, as required by statute, that Japanese whaling practices undermined the effectiveness of international conventions, the Court rejected the Government’s argument that the political question doctrine precluded decision on the merits. The Court’s prime responsibility, it said, is to interpret statutes, treaties, and executive agreements; the interplay of the statutes and the agreements in this case implicated the foreign relations of the Nation. “But under the Constitution, one of the Judiciary’s characteristic roles is to interpret statutes, and we cannot shirk this responsibility merely because our decision may have significant political overtones.”715
After requesting argument on the issue, the Court held that a challenge to a statute on the ground that it did not originate in the House of Representatives as required by the Origination Clause was justiciable.716 Turning back reliance on the various factors set out in Baker, in much the same tone as in Powell v. McCormack, the Court continued to evidence the view that only questions textually committed to another branch are political questions. Invalidation of a statute because it did not originate in the right House would not demonstrate a “lack of respect” for the House that passed the bill. “[D]isrespect,” in the sense of rejecting Congress’s reading of the Constitution, “cannot be sufficient to create a political question. If it were every judicial resolution of a constitutional challenge to a congressional enactment would be impermissible.”717 That the House of Representatives has the power and incentives to protect its prerogatives by not passing a bill violating the Origination Clause did not make this case nonjusticiable. “[T]he fact that one institution of Government has mechanisms available to guard against incursions into its power by other governmental institutions does not require that the Judiciary remove itself from the controversy by labeling the issue a political question.”718
The Court also rejected the contention that, because the case did not involve a matter of individual rights, it ought not be adjudicated. Political questions are not restricted to one kind of claim, but the Court frequently has decided separation-of-power cases brought by people in their individual capacities. Moreover, the allocation of powers within a branch, just as the separation of powers among branches, is designed to safeguard liberty.719 Finally, the Court was sanguine that it could develop “judicially manageable standards” for disposing of Origination Clause cases, and, thus, it did not view the issue as political in that context.720
In Zivotosky v. Clinton,721 the Court declined to find a political question where a citizen born in Jerusalem sought, pursuant to federal statute, to have “Israel” listed on his passport as his place of birth, the Executive Branch having declined to recognize Israeli sovereignly over that city. Justice Roberts, for the Court, failed to even acknowledge the numerous factors set forth in Justice Brennan’s Baker opinion save two—whether there is a textually demonstrable commitment of the issue to another department or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it.722 The Court noted that while the decision as whether or not to recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel might be exclusively the province of the Executive Branch, there is “no exclusive commitment to the Executive of the power to determine the constitutionality of a statute,”723 such as whether Congress is encroaching on Presidential powers. Similarly, this latter question, while perhaps a difficult one, is amenable to the type of separation of powers “standards” used by the Court in other separation of powers cases.
In short, the political question doctrine may not be moribund, but it does seem applicable to a very narrow class of cases. Significantly, the Court made no mention of the doctrine when it resolved issues arising from Florida’s recount of votes in the closely contested 2000 presidential election,724 despite the fact that the Constitution vests in Congress the authority to count electoral votes, and further provides for selection of the President by the House of Representatives if no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes.725
- 2 M. Farrand, supra at 430.
- The proposal was contained in the Virginia Plan. 1 id. at 21. For the four rejections, see id. at 97–104, 108–10, 138–40, 2 id. at 73–80, 298.
- Id. at 328–29, 342–44. Although a truncated version of the proposal was reported by the Committee on Detail, id. at 367, the Convention never took it up.
- Id. at 340–41. The proposal was referred to the Committee on Detail and never heard of again.
- 1 C. Warren, supra at 108–111; 3 CORRESPONDENCE AND PUBLIC PAPERS OF JOHN JAY 633–635 (H. Johnston ed., 1893); Hart & Wechsler (6th ed.), supra at 50–52.
- Hayburn’s Case, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) 409 (1792), discussed “Finality of Judgment as an Attribute of Judicial Power,” supra.
- See, e.g., Justice Brandeis dissenting in Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288, 341, 345–348 (1936). Cf. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 97 (1968); Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549, 568–575 (1947).
- 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 264 (1821).
- 19 U.S. at 378.
- Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 356 (1911).
- The two terms may be used interchangeably, inasmuch as a “controversy,” if distinguishable from a “case” at all, is so only because it is a less comprehensive word and includes only suits of a civil nature. Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 239 (1937).
- Osborn v. Bank of the United States, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 738 (1824).
- In re Pacific Ry. Comm’n, 32 F. 241, 255 (C.C. Calif. 1887) (Justice Field). See also Smith v. Adams, 130 U.S. 167, 173–174 (1889).
- Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 229, 240–241 (1937). Cf. Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237, 242 (1952).
- Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94–95 (1968).
- “The jurisdiction of the federal courts can be invoked only under circumstances which to the expert feel of lawyers constitute a ‘case or controversy.’ ” Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Comm. v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 149, 150 (1951).
- Lord v. Veazie, 49 U.S. (8 How.) 251 (1850); Chicago & Grand Trunk Ry. v. Wellman, 143 U.S. 339 (1892); South Spring Hill Gold Mining Co. v. Amador Medean Gold Mining Co., 145 U.S. 300 (1892); California v. San Pablo & T.R.R., 149 U.S. 308 (1893); Tregea v. Modesto Irrigation District, 164 U.S. 179 (1896); Lampasas v. Bell, 180 U.S. 276 (1901); Smith v. Indiana, 191 U.S. 138 (1903); Braxton County Court v. West Virginia, 208 U.S. 192 (1908); Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (1911); United States v. Johnson, 319 U.S. 302 (1943); Moore v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ., 402 U.S. 47 (1971).
- 219 U.S. 346 (1911).
- 219 U.S. at 361–62. The Indians obtained the sought-after decision the following year by the simple expedient of suing to enjoin the Secretary of the Interior from enforcing the disputed statute. Gritts v. Fisher, 224 U.S. 640 (1912). Other cases have involved similar problems, but they resulted in decisions on the merits. E.g., Cherokee Intermarriage Cases, 203 U.S. 76 (1906); La Abra Silver Mining Co. v. United States, 175 U.S. 423, 455–463 (1899); South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 335 (1966); but see id. at 357 (Justice Black dissenting). The principal effect of Muskrat was to put in doubt for several years the validity of any sort of declaratory judgment provision in federal law.
- 570 U.S. ___, No. 12–307, slip op. (2013).
- Pub. L. 104–199, § 3, 110 Stat. 2419, 1 U.S.C. § 7.
- The BLAG is a standing body of the House, created by rule, consisting of members of the House Leadership and authorized to direct the House Office of the General Counsel to file suit on its behalf in state or federal court.
- Windsor, slip op. at 6–7.
- Id. at 10–13.
- 49 U.S. (8 How.) 251 (1850).
- 49 U.S. at 254–55.
- Chicago & G.T. Ry. v. Wellman, 143 U.S. 339, 345 (1892).
- E.g., Hylton v. United States, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 171 (1796); Fletcher v. Peck, 10 U.S. (6 Cr.) 87 (1810); Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857); cf. 1 C. Warren, supra at 147, 392–95; 2 id. at 279–82. In Powell v. Texas, 392 U.S. 514 (1968), the Court adjudicated on the merits a challenge to the constitutionality of criminal treatment of chronic alcoholics although the findings of the trial court, agreed to by the parties, appeared rather to be “the premises of a syllogism transparently designed to bring this case” within the confines of an earlier enunciated constitutional principle. But adversity arguably still existed.
- Examples are naturalization cases, Tutun v. United States, 270 U.S. 568 (1926), entry of judgment by default or on a plea of guilty, In re Metropolitan Ry. Receivership, 208 U.S. 90 (1908), and consideration by the Court of cases in which the Solicitor General confesses error below. Cf. Young v. United States, 315 U.S. 257, 258–259 (1942); Casey v. United States, 343 U.S. 808 (1952); Rosengart v. Laird, 404 U.S. 908 (1972) (Justice White dissenting). See also Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 58–59 (1968).
- 157 U.S. 429 (1895). The first injunction suit by a stockholder to restrain a corporation from paying a tax was apparently Dodge v. Woolsey, 59 U.S. (18 How.) 331 (1856). See also Brushaber v. Union Pac. R.R., 240 U.S. 1 (1916).
- Cf. Cheatham v. United States, 92 U.S. 85 (1875); Snyder v. Marks, 109 U.S. 189 (1883).
- Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust Co., 255 U.S. 180 (1921).
- Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936). See id. at 341 (Justice Brandeis dissenting in part).
- 298 U.S. 238 (1936).
- Stern, The Commerce Clause and the National Economy, 59 HARV. L. REV. 645, 667–668 (1948) (detailing the framing of the suit).
- Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 99 (1968). This characterization is not the view of the present Court; see Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750, 752, 755–56, 759–61 (1984). In taxpayer suits, it is appropriate to look to the substantive issues to determine whether there is a logical nexus between the status asserted and the claim sought to be adjudicated. Id. at 102; United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166, 174–75 (1974); Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Envtl. Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 78–79 (1978).
- Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204 (1962). That persons or organizations have a personal, ideological interest sufficiently strong to create adverseness is not alone enough to confer standing; rather, the adverseness is the consequence of one being able to satisfy the Article III requisite of injury in fact. Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 482–486 (1982); Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208, 225–226 (1974). Nor is the fact that, if plaintiffs have no standing to sue, no one would have standing, a sufficient basis for finding standing. Id. at 227.
- Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750 (1984) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975)). All the standards relating to whether a plaintiff is entitled to adjudication of his claims must be evaluated “by reference to the Art. III notion that federal courts may exercise power only ‘in the last resort, and as a necessity,’ . . . and only when adjudication is ‘consistent with a system of separated powers and [the dispute is one] traditionally thought to be capable of resolution through the judicial process.’ ” Id. at 752 (quoting, respectively, Chicago & G.T. Ry. v. Wellman, 143 U.S. 339, 345 (1892), and Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 97 (1968)). For the strengthening of the separation-of-powers barrier to standing, see Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559–60, 571–78 (1992).
- E.g., Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 471–476 (1982); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750–751 (1984).
- C. WRIGHT, HANDBOOK OF THE LAW OF FEDERAL COURTS 60 (4th ed. 1983).
- “[T]he concept of ‘Art. III standing’ has not been defined with complete consistency in all of the various cases decided by this Court . . . [and] this very fact is probably proof that the concept cannot be reduced to a one-sentence or one-paragraph definition.” Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 475 (1982). “Generalizations about standing to sue are largely worthless as such.” Association of Data Processing Service Orgs. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 151 (1970). For extensive consideration of the doctrine, see Hart & Wechsler (6th ed.), supra at 100–183.
- Thus, state courts could adjudicate a case brought by a person who had no standing in the federal sense. If the plaintiff lost, he would have no recourse in the U.S. Supreme Court, because of his lack of standing, Tileston v. Ullman, 318 U.S. 44 (1943); Doremus v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 429 (1952), but if plaintiff prevailed, the losing defendant might be able to appeal, because he might be able to assert sufficient injury to his federal interests. ASARCO Inc. v. Kadish, 490 U.S. 605 (1989).
- Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208 (1974).
- 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).
- 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.
- Usually cited as Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923), the two suits having been consolidated.
- 262 U.S. at 487, 488. In Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc., 127 S. Ct. 2553, 2559 (2007), the Court added that, “if every federal taxpayer could sue to challenge any Government expenditure, the federal courts would cease to function as courts of law and would be cast in the role of general complaint bureaus.”
- 392 U.S. 83 (1968).
- 392 U.S. at 105.
- United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166 (1974); Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208, 227–28 (1974). Richardson in its generalized grievance constriction does not apply when Congress confers standing on litigants. FEC v. Akins, 524 U.S. 11 (1998). When Congress confers standing on “any person aggrieved” by the denial of information required to be furnished them, it matters not that most people will be entitled and will thus suffer a “generalized grievance,” the statutory entitlement is sufficient. Id. at 21–25.
- Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464 (1982). In Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 353 n.3 (1996), the Court played down the “serious and adversarial treatment” prong of standing and strongly reasserted the separation-of-powers value of keeping courts within traditional bounds. The Court again took this approach in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., 127 S. Ct. 2553, 2569 (2007), finding that “Flast itself gave too little weight to [separation-of-powers] concerns.”
- DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 347–49 (2006) (standing denied to taxpayer claim that state tax credit given to vehicle manufacturer violated the Commerce Clause).
- Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., 127 S. Ct. 2553, 2559 (2007). This decision does not affect Establishment Clause cases in which the plaintiff can allege a personal injury. A plaintiff who challenges a government display of a religious object, for example, need not sue as a taxpayer but may have standing “by alleging that he has undertaken a ‘special burden’ or has altered his behavior to avoid the object that gives him offense. . . . [I]t is enough for standing purposes that a plaintiff allege that he ‘must come into direct and unwelcome contact with the religious display to participate fully as [a] citizen[ ] . . . and to fulfill . . . legal obligations.’ ” Books v. Elkhart County, 401 F.3d 857, 861 (7th Cir. 2005). In Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677, 682 (2005), the Court, without mentioning standing, noted that the plaintiff “has encountered the Ten Commandments monument during his frequent visits to the [Texas State] Capitol grounds. His visits are typically for the purpose of using the law library in the Supreme Court building, which is located just northwest of the Capitol building.”
- 127 S. Ct. at 2568 (citations omitted). Justices Scalia and Thomas concurred in the judgment but would have overruled Flast. Justice Souter, joined by three other justices, dissented because he saw no logic in the distinction the plurality drew, as the plurality did not and could not have suggested that the taxpayers in Hein “have any less stake in the outcome than the taxpayers in Flast.” Id. at 2584.
- 330 U.S. 1 (1947). In DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 349 (2006), the Court held that a plaintiff ’s status as a municipal taxpayer does not give him standing to challenge a state tax credit.
- See Bradfield v. Roberts, 175 U.S. 291, 295 (1899); Crampton v. Zabriskie, 101 U.S. 601 (1880); Heim v. McCall, 239 U.S. 175 (1915). See also Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948); Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962) (plaintiffs suing as parents and taxpayers).
- 342 U.S. 429 (1952). Compare Alder v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 485 (1952). See also Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24 (1974).
- 342 U.S. at 434.
- 342 U.S. at 434, quoting Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 488 (1923); quoted with approval in DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 345 (2006).
- See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560–61 (1992). Importantly, standing is not “dispensed in gross,” and, accordingly, a plaintiff must demonstrate standing for each claim “he seeks to press and for each form of relief that is sought.” See Davis v. FEC, 554 U.S. 724, 734 (2008). Moreover, when there are multiple parties to a lawsuit brought in federal court, “[f]or all relief sought, there must be a litigant with standing, whether that litigant joins the lawsuit as a plaintiff, a coplaintiff, or an intervenor as of right.” See Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, Inc., 581 U.S. ___, No. 16–605, slip. op. at 6 (2017).
- Alabama Power Co. v. Ickes, 302 U.S. 464, 479 (1938). Cf. Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 151–152 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter concurring). But see Frost v. Corporation Comm’n, 278 U.S. 515 (1929); City of Chicago v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry., 357 U.S. 77 (1958).
- Tennessee Electric Power Co. v. TVA, 306 U.S. 118, 137–138 (1939).
- C. Wright, supra at 65–66.
- E.g., Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (1951) (indirect injury to organization and members by governmental maintenance of list of subversive organizations); NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958) (same); Abington School Dist. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 224 n.9 (1963) (parents and school children challenging school prayers); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 430–431 (1961) (merchants challenging Sunday closing laws); Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204–208 (1962) (voting rights).
- Ass’n of Data Processing Service Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150 (1970); Barlow v. Collins, 397 U.S. 159 (1970). The “zone of interest” test is a prudential rather than constitutional standard. The Court sometimes uses other language to characterize this test. Thus, in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992), the Court refers to injury in fact as “an invasion of a legally protected interest,” but in context, here and in the cases cited, it is clear the reference is to any interest that the Court finds protectable under the Constitution, statutes, or regulations.
- Department of Commerce v. United States House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316 (1999).
- E.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 563 (1992); Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 885 (1991); Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 72–74 (1978); Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 261–263 (1977); Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 112–113 (1976); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498–499 (1975); O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 493–494 (1974); Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 617–618 (1973).
- Summers v. Earth Island Institute, 129 S. Ct. 1142, 1151 (2009) (environmental group that was denied the opportunity to file comments with the United States Forest Service regarding a Forest Service action denied standing for lack of concrete injury). On the other hand, where a party has successfully established a legal right, a threat to the enforcement of that legal right gives rise to a separate legal injury. Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. ___, No. 08–472, slip op. at 8 (2010) (plurality opinion) (“A party that obtains a judgment in its favor acquires a ‘judicially cognizable’ interest in ensuring compliance with that judgment”).
- See Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 578 U.S. ___, No. 13–1339, slip op. at 9 (2016). The phrase “chains of causation” originates from Justice Kennedy’s concurrence in Lujan, in which he states that in order to properly define an injury that can be vindicated in an Article III court, “Congress must . . . identify the injury it seeks to vindicate and relate the injury to the class of persons entitled to bring suit.” 504 U.S. at 580 (Kennedy, J., concurring).
- Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205 (1972); Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91 (1979); Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363 (1982).
- 524 U.S. 11 (1998).
- That the injury was widely shared did not make the claimed injury a “generalized grievance,” the Court held, but rather in this case, as in others, the denial of the statutory right was found to be a concrete harm to each member of the class.
- Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 735 (1972); United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 687–88 (1973); Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 72–74 (1978). But the Court has refused to credit general allegations of injury untied to specific governmental actions. E.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992); Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871 (1990). SCRAP in particular is disfavored as too broad. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. at 566. Moreover, unlike the situation in taxpayer suits, there is no requirement of a nexus between the injuries claimed and the constitutional rights asserted. In Duke Power, 438 U.S. at 78–81, claimed environmental and health injuries grew out of construction and operation of nuclear power plants but were not directly related to the governmental action challenged, the limitation of liability and indemnification in cases of nuclear accident. See also Metropolitan Washington Airports Auth. v. Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise, 501 U.S. 252, 264–65 (1991); Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167 (2000).
- Vermont Agency of Nat. Res. v. United States ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765 (2000). The Court confirmed its conclusion by reference to the long tradition of qui tam actions, since the Constitution’s restriction of judicial power to “cases” and “controversies” has been interpreted to mean “cases and controversies of the sort traditionally amenable to, and resolved by, the judicial process.” Id. at 774.
- Sprint Communications Co., L.P. v. APCC Services, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 2531 (2008) (payphone operators had assigned claims against long-distance carriers to “aggregators” to sue on their behalf). Chief Justice Roberts, in a dissent joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, stated that the aggregators lacked standing because they “have nothing to gain from their lawsuit.” Id. at 2549.
- 128 S. Ct. at 2543.
- 570 U.S. ___, No. 12–144, slip op. (2013).
- Under the relevant provisions of the California Elections Code , “ ‘[p]roponents of an initiative or referendum measure’ means . . . the elector or electors who submit the text of a proposed initiative or referendum to the Attorney General . . . ; or . . . the person or persons who publish a notice of intention to circulate petitions, or, where publication is not required, who file petitions with the elections official or legislative body.”C AL. ELEC. CODE § 342 (West 2003).
- Hollingsworth, slip op. at 7–9.
- California’s governor and state and local officials declined to defend Proposition 8 in federal district court, so the proponents were allowed to intervene. After the federal district court held the proposition unconstitutional, the government officials elected not to appeal, so the proponents did. The federal court of appeals certified a question to the California Supreme Court on whether the official proponents of the proposition had the authority to assert the state’s interest in defending the constitutionality of Proposition 8, see Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 628 F.3d 1191, 1193 (2011), which was answered in the affirmative, see Perry v. Brown, 265 P.3d 1002, 1007 (Cal. 2011).
- See Hollingsworth, slip op. at 12 (citing Karcher v. May, 484 U.S. 72 (1987)).
- The Court noted that an essential feature of agency is the principal’s right to control the agent’s actions. Here, the proponents “decided what arguments to make and how to make them.” Id. at 15. The Court also noted that the proponents were not elected to their position, took no oath, had no fiduciary duty to the people of California, and were not subject to removal. Id.
- See “Generalized or Widespread Injuries,” supra.
- Compare Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499–500 (1975) (prudential), with Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 485, 490 (1982) (apparently constitutional). In Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984), it is again prudential.
- See generally Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 555 U.S. 488, 496 (2009) (“[D]e-privation of a . . . right without some concrete interest that is affected by the deprivation . . . is insufficient to create Article III standing.”); see, e.g., Cal. Bankers Ass’n v. Shultz, 416 U.S. 21, 73 (1974) (plaintiffs alleged that Treasury regulations would require them to report currency transactions, but made no additional allegation that any of the information required by the Secretary will tend to incriminate them).
- 408 U.S. 1, 14–15 (1972).
- See 578 U.S. ___, No. 13–1339, slip op. at 8–10 (2016). Nonetheless, the Spokeo Court cautioned that “intangible” injuries, such as violations of constitutional rights like freedom of speech or the free exercise of religion, can amount to “concrete” injuries. Id. at 8–9 (“ ‘Concrete’ is not, however, necessarily synonymous with ‘tangible.’ ”). In determining whether an intangible harm amounts to a concrete injury, the Court noted that history and the judgment of Congress can inform a court’s conclusion about whether a particular plaintiff has standing. Id. at 9.
- See City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 110 (1983) (holding that a victim of a police chokehold seeking injunctive relief was unable to show sufficient likelihood of recurrence as to him).
- See Davis v. FEC, 554 U.S. 724, 734 (2008) (“[T]he injury required for standing need not be actualized. A party facing prospective injury has standing to sue where the threatened injury is real, immediate, and direct.”).
- See, e.g., Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 372 (1976) (“[I]ndividual respondents’ claim to ‘real and immediate’ injury rests not upon what the named petitioners might do to them in the future . . . but upon what one of a small, unnamed minority of policemen might do to them in the future because of that unknown policeman’s perception of departmental disciplinary procedures.”); O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 497 (1974) (no “sufficient immediacy and reality” to allegations of future injury that rest on the likelihood that plaintiffs will again be subjected to racially discriminatory enforcement and administration of criminal justice).
- 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–205, slip op. at 10–11 (2013). In adopting a “certainly impending” standard, the five-Justice majority observed that earlier cases had not uniformly required literal certainty. Id. at 15 n.5. Amnesty International‘s limitation on standing may be particularly notable in certain contexts, such as national security, where evidence necessary to prove a “certainly impending” injury may be unavailable to a plaintiff.
- Id. at 10–11. In Amnesty International, defense attorneys, human rights organizations, and others challenged prospective, covert surveillance of the communications of certain foreign nationals abroad as authorized by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The Court found the plaintiffs lacked standing because they failed to show, inter alia, what the government’s targeting practices would be, what legal authority the government would use to monitor any of the plaintiffs’ overseas clients or contacts, whether any approved surveillance would be successful, and whether the plaintiffs’ own communications from within the United States would incidentally be acquired. Id. at 11–15. Moreover, the Court rejected that the plaintiffs could demonstrate an injury-in-fact as a result of costs that they had incurred to guard against a reasonable fear of future harm (such as, travel expenses to conduct in person conversations abroad in lieu of conducting less costly electronic communications that might be more susceptible to surveillance) because those costs were the result of an injury that was not certainly impending. Id. at 16–19.
- 573 U.S. ___, No. 13–193, slip op. (2014).
- Relying on Amnesty International, the Court in Susan B. Anthony List held that an allegation of future injury may suffice if the injury is “ ‘certainly impending’ or there is a ‘substantial risk’ that the harm may occur.” Id. at 8 (quoting Amnesty Int’l, slip op. at 10, 15, n.5). Interestingly, while previous Court decisions have viewed preenforcement challenges as a question of “ripeness,” see Article III: Section 2. Judicial Power and Jurisdiction: Clause 1. Cases and Controversies; Grants of Jurisdiction: Judicial Power and Jurisdiction-Cases and Controversies: The Requirements of a Real Interest: Ripeness, infra, Susan B. Anthony List held that the doctrine of ripeness ultimately “boil[s] down to the same question” as standing and, therefore, viewed the case through the lens of Article III standing. Susan B. Anthony List, slip op. at 7 n.5.
- Susan B. Anthony List, slip op. at 14–17 (internal quotation marks omitted).
- See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 595 (1992); see also ASARCO Inc. v. Kadish, 490 U.S. 605, 612–617 (1989) (plurality opinion); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984); see, e.g., Wittman v. Personhuballah, 578 U.S. ___, No. 14–1504, slip op. at 4–5 (2016) (dismissing a challenge to a redistricting plan by a congressman, who conceded that regardless of the result of the case he would not run in his old district, as any injury suffered could not be redressed by a favorable ruling). Although “causation” and “redressability” were initially articulated as two facets of a single requirement, the Court now views them as separate inquiries. See Sprint Commc’ns Co., L.P. v. APCC Servs., 554 U.S. 269, 286–87 (2008). To the extent there is a difference, it is that the former examines a causal connection between the allegedly unlawful conduct and the injury, whereas the latter examines the causal connection between the alleged injury and the judicial relief requested. Id.
- Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26 (1976). See also Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614 (1973) (mother of illegitimate child lacked standing to contest prosecutorial policy of using child support laws to coerce support of legitimate children only, as it was “only speculative” that prosecution of father would result in support rather than jailing). However, in Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 129 S. Ct. 1142, 1151 (2009), the Court noted in dicta that, if a plaintiff is denied a procedural right, the fact that the right had been accorded by Congress “can loosen the strictures of the redressability prong of our standing inquiry.” Thus, standing may exist even though a court’s enforcing a procedural right accorded by Congress, such as the right to comment on a proposed federal agency action, will not guarantee the plaintiff success in persuading the agency to adopt the plaintiff ’s point of view.
- Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490 (1975). In Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 264 (1974), however, a person who alleged he was seeking housing in the community and that he would qualify if the organizational plaintiff were not inhibited by allegedly racially discriminatory zoning laws from constructing housing for low-income persons like himself was held to have shown a “substantial probability” that voiding of the ordinance would benefit him.
- Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737 (1984). But see Heckler v. Mathews, 465 U.S. 728 (1984), where persons denied equal treatment in conferral of benefits were held to have standing to challenge the treatment, although a judicial order could only have terminated benefits to the favored class. In that event, members would have secured relief in the form of equal treatment, even if they did not receive benefits. See also Arkansas Writers’ Project, Inc. v. Ragland, 481 U.S. 221 (1987); Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268, 271–273 (1979).
- Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 72–78 1978). The likelihood of relief in some cases appears to be rather speculative at best. E/g., Bryant v. Yellen, 447 U.S. 352, 366–368 (1980); Watt v. Energy Action Educational Foundation, 454 U.S. 151, 160–162 (1981).
- See Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., 580 U.S. ___, No. 15–649, slip op. at 11 (2017) (holding that the “mere possibility” that a plaintiff ’s injury will not be remedied by a favorable decision is insufficient to conclude the plaintiff lacks standing because of want of redressability); see also Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 430–31 (1998) (holding that the imposition of a “substantial contingent liability” qualifies as an injury for purposes of Article III standing).
- Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 505 (1975); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 756–761 (1984).
- Thus, it appears that had the Court applied its standard in the current case, the results would have been different in such cases as Linda R. S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614 (1973); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490 (1975); Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26 (1976); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737 (1984).
- Northeastern Fla. Ch. of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 666 (1993). The Court derived the proposition from another set of cases. Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346 (1970); Clements v. Fashing, 457 U.S. 957 (1982); Regents of the Univ. of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 281 n.14 (1978).
- 508 U.S. at 666. But see, in the context of ripeness, Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U.S. 43 (1993), in which the Court, over the dissent’s reliance on Jacksonville, 509 U.S. at 81–82, denied the relevance of its distinction between entitlement to a benefit and equal treatment. Id. at 58 n.19.
- Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167, 187 (2000).
- Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99–100 (1979) (“a plaintiff may still lack standing under the prudential principles by which the judiciary seeks to avoid deciding questions of broad social import where no individual rights would be vindicated and to limit access to the federal courts to those litigants best suited to assert a particular claim”).
- Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band Of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 567 U.S. ___, No. 11–246, slip op. at 15 (2010).
- Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 500–501 (1975); Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 193–194 (1976).
- “Congress may grant an express right of action to persons who otherwise would be barred by prudential standing rules. Of course, Art. III’s requirement remains: the plaintiff still must allege a distinct and palpable injury to himself, even if it is an injury shared by a large class of other possible litigants.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975). That is, the actual or threatened injury required may exist solely by virtue of “statutes creating legal rights, the invasion of which creates standing, even though no injury would exist without the statute.” Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 617 n. 3 (1973); O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 493 n.2 (1974). Examples include United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669 (1973); Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205 (1972); Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91 (1979). See also Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 8 n.4, 11–12 (1976). For a good example of the congressionally created interest and the injury to it, see Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 373–75 (1982) (Fair Housing Act created right to truthful information on availability of housing; black tester’s right injured through false information, but white tester not injured because he received truthful information). It is clear, however, that the Court will impose separation-of-powers restraints on the power of Congress to create interests to which injury would give standing. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 571–78 (1992). Justice Scalia, who wrote the opinion in Defenders of Wildlife, reiterated the separation-of-powers objection to congressional conferral of standing in FEC v. Akins, 524 U.S. 11, 29, 36 (1998) (alleged infringement of President’s “take care” obligation), but this time in dissent; the Court did not advert to this objection in finding that Congress had provided for standing based on denial of information to which the plaintiffs, as voters, were entitled.
- Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 474–75 (1982); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984).
- Ass’n of Data Processing Service Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 153 (1970); Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 39 n.19 (1976); Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United, 454 U.S. 464, 475 (1982); Clarke v. Securities Industry Ass’n, 479 U.S. 388 (1987). See also Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154 (1997). The Court has indicated that
- United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166, 173, 174–76 (1974); Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 80 (1978); Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984). In United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 687–88 (1973), a congressional conferral case, the Court agreed that the interest asserted was one shared by all, but the Court has disparaged SCRAP, asserting that it “surely went to the very outer limit of the law,” Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 159 (1990).
- United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 21–23 (1960); Yazoo & M.V.R.R. v. Jackson Vinegar Co., 226 U.S. 217 (1912). Cf. Bender v. Williamsport Area School Dist., 475 U.S. 534 (1986).
- 318 U.S. 44 (1943). See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 508–510 (1975) (challenged law did not adversely affect plaintiffs and did not adversely affect a relationship between them and persons they sought to represent).
- 346 U.S. 249 (1953).
- See also Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917) (white plaintiff suing for specific performance of a contract to convey property to a black had standing to contest constitutionality of ordinance barring sale of property to “colored” people, inasmuch as black defendant was relying on ordinance as his defense); Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, 396 U.S. 229 (1969) (white assignor of membership in discriminatory private club could raise rights of black assignee in seeking injunction against expulsion from club).
- E.g., Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) (persons convicted of prescribing contraceptives for married persons and as accessories to crime of using contraceptives have standing to raise constitutional rights of patients with whom they had a professional relationship; although use of contraceptives was a crime, it was doubtful any married couple would be prosecuted so that they could challenge the statute); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972) (advocate of contraception convicted of giving device to unmarried woman had standing to assert rights of unmarried persons denied access; unmarried persons were not subject to prosecution and were thus impaired in their ability to gain a forum to assert their rights).
- E.g., Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 188–189 (1973) (doctors have standing to challenge abortion statute since it operates directly against them and they should not have to await criminal prosecution to challenge it); Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52, 62 (1976) (same); Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 192–197 (1976) (licensed beer distributor could contest sex discriminatory alcohol laws because it operated on him, he suffered injury in fact, and was “obvious claimant” to raise issue); Carey v. Population Services Int’l, 431 U.S. 678, 682–84 (1977) (vendor of contraceptives had standing to bring action to challenge law limiting distribution). Older cases support the proposition. See, e.g., Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925); Bantam Books v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 (1963).
- Holland v. Illinois, 493 U.S. 474 (1990) (white defendant had standing to raise a Sixth Amendment challenge to exclusion of blacks from his jury, since defendant had a right to a jury comprised of a fair cross section of the community). The Court has expanded the rights of non-minority defendants to challenge the exclusion of minorities from petit and grand juries, both on the basis of the injury-in-fact to defendants and because the standards for being able to assert the rights of third parties were met. Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400 (1991); Campbell v. Louisiana, 523 U.S. 392 (1998).
- 428 U.S. 106 (1976).
- Compare 428 U.S. at 112–18 (Justices Blackmun, Brennan, White, and Marshall), with id. at 123–31 (Justices Powell, Stewart, and Rehnquist, and Chief Justice Burger). Justice Stevens concurred with the former four Justices on narrower grounds limited to this case.
- Caplin & Drysdale v. United States, 491 U.S. 617, 623–624 n.3 (1989). Caplin & Drysdale was distinguished in Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 123, 131 (2004), the Court’s finding that attorneys seeking to represent hypothetical indigent clients in challenging procedures for appointing appellate counsel had “no relationship at all” with such potential clients, let alone a “close” relationship.
- See Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125, 130 (2004); see also Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 411 (1991). The Court has held that a parent-child relationship “easily satisfies” the “close relationship” requirement for “next friend” standing. See Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 582 U.S. ___, No. 15–1191, slip. op. at 7 (2017).
- See Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 163 (1990) (rejecting “next friend” standing for a death row inmate who knowlingly, intelligently, and voluntarily chose not to appeal his sentence); see also Morales-Santana, 582 U.S. ___, slip. op. at 7 (2017) (holding that the death of the real party in interest meets the “hindrance” requirement for “next friend” standing).
- United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 21–24 (1960).
- Lanzetta v. New Jersey, 306 U.S. 451 (1939); Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88 (1940); Winters v. New York, 333 U.S. 507 (1948); Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 486–487 (1965); Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518 (1972); Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974). The Court has narrowed its overbreadth doctrine, though not consistently, in recent years. Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601 (1973); Young v. American Mini Theatres, 427 U.S. 50, 59–60 (1976), and id. at 73 (Justice Powell concurring); New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 771–773 (1982). But the exception as stated in the text remains strong. E.g., Secretary of State v. Joseph H. Munson Co., 467 U.S. 947 (1984); Virginia v. American Booksellers Ass’n, 484 U.S. 383 (1988).
- See, e.g., INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983); Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U.S. 714 (1986);Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998).
- 564 U.S. ___, No. 09–1227, slip op. (2011).
- The defendant, in an attempt to harass a woman who had become impregnated by the defendant’s husband, had placed caustic substances on objects the woman was likely to touch. The defendant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 229, a broad prohibition against the use of harmful chemicals, enacted as part of the implementation of the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The specifics of the defendant’s Tenth Amendment argument was not before the Court.
- 564 U.S. ___, No. 09–1227, slip op. at 10.
- Sierra Club v. Morton, 401 U.S. 727 (1972). An organization may, of course, sue to redress injuries to itself. See Havens Realty Co. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 378–379 (1982).
- E.g., Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (1951); NAACP v. Alabama ex rel Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958); NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415 (1963); Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia, 377 U.S. 1 (1964); United Mine Workers v. Illinois State Bar Ass’n, 389 U.S. 217 (1967); United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan, 401 U.S. 576 (1971).
- 432 U.S. 333, 343 (1977). The organization here was not a voluntary membership entity but a state agency charged with furthering the interests of apple growers who were assessed annual sums to support the Commission. Id. at 341–45. See also Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 510–17 (1975); Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 39–40 (1976); Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 263–264 (1977); Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297, 321 (1980); International Union, UAW v. Brock, 477 U.S. 274 (1986).
- United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388 (1980). Geraghty was a mootness case.
- Louisiana v. Texas, 176 U.S. 1 (1900) (recognizing the propriety of parens patriae suits but denying it in this particular suit).
- Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 485–486 (1923). But see South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301 (1966) (denying such standing to raise two constitutional claims against the United States but deciding a third); Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112, 117 n.1 (1970) (no question raised about standing or jurisdiction; claims adjudicated).
- Missouri v. Illinois, 180 U.S. 208 (1901); Kansas v. Colorado, 206 U.S. 46 (1907); Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230 (1907); New York v. New Jersey, 256 U.S. 296 (1921); Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U.S. 553 (1923); North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U.S. 365 (1923).
- Georgia v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 324 U.S. 439 (1945) (antitrust); Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U.S. 725, 737–739 (1981) (discriminatory state taxation of natural gas shipped to out-of-state customers); Alfred L. Snapp & Son v. Puerto Rico ex rel. Barez, 458 U.S. 592 (1982) (discrimination by growers against Puerto Rican migrant workers and denial of Commonwealth’s opportunity to participate in federal employment service laws).
- New Hampshire v. Louisiana, 108 U.S. 76 (1883); Oklahoma ex rel. Johnson v. Cook, 304 U.S. 387 (1938); Oklahoma v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry., 220 U.S. 277 (1911); North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U.S. 365, 376 (1923); Pennsylvania v. New Jersey, 426 U.S. 660 (1976).
- Alfred L. Snapp & Son v. Puerto Rico ex rel. Barez, 458 U.S. 592, 607–08 (1982). Justice Brennan, joined by Justices Marshall, Blackmun, and Stevens, argued that the Court’s standards should apply only in original actions and not in actions filed in federal district courts, where, they contended, the prerogative of a state to bring suit on behalf of its citizens should be commensurate with the ability of private organizations to do so. Id. at 610. The Court admitted that different considerations might apply between original actions and district court suits. Id. at 603 n.12.
- Member standing has not fared well in other Circuits. Holtzman v. Schlesinger, 484 F.2d 1307 (2d Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 416 U.S. 936 (1974); Harrington v. Schlesinger, 528 F.2d 455 (4th Cir. 1975).
- Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811 (1997). In Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 438 (1939), the Court had recognized that legislators can in some instances suffer an injury in respect to the effectiveness of their votes that will confer standing. In Pressler v. Blumenthal, 434 U.S. 1028 (1978), affg, 428 F. Supp. 302 (D.D.C. 1976) (three-judge court), the Court affirmed a decision in which the lower court had found Member standing but had then decided against the Member on the merits. The “unexplicated affirmance” could have reflected disagreement with the lower court on standing or agreement with it on the merits. Note Justice Rehnquist’s appended statement. Id. In Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979), the Court vacated a decision, in which the lower Court had found Member standing, and directed dismissal, but none of the Justices who addressed the question of standing. The opportunity to consider Member standing was strongly pressed in Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361 (1987), but the expiration of the law in issue mooted the case.
- Reuss v. Balles, 584 F.2d 461, 466 (D.C. Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 997 (1978).
- See, e.g., Wittman v. Personhuballah, 578 U.S. ___, No. 14–1504, slip op. at 6 (2016) (concluding that two congressmen could not invoke federal jurisdiction to challenge a redistricting plan when they could not provide any evidence that the plan might injure their reelection chances).
- Mitchell v. Laird, 488 F.2d 611 (D.C. Cir. 1973).
- 511 F.2d 430 (D.C. Cir. 1974). In Barnes v. Kline, 759 F.2d 21 (D.C. Cir. 1985), the court again found standing by Members challenging a pocket veto, but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot. Sub nom. Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361 (1987). Whether the injury was the nullification of the past vote on passage only or whether it was also the nullification of an opportunity to vote to override the veto has divided the Circuit, with the majority favoring the broader interpretation. Goldwater v. Carter, 617 F.2d 697, 702 n.12 (D.C. Cir. 1979), and id. at 711–12 (Judge Wright), vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss, 444 U.S. 996 (1979)
- Kennedy v. Sampson, 511 F.2d 430, 435–436 (D.C. Cir. 1974). See Harrington v. Bush, 553 F.2d 190, 199 n.41 (D.C. Cir. 1977). Harrington found no standing in a Member’s suit challenging CIA failure to report certain actions to Congress, in order that Members could intelligently vote on certain issues. See also Reuss v. Balles, 584 F.2d 461 (D.C. Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 997 (1978).
- Goldwater v. Carter, 617 F.2d 697, 702, 703 (D.C. Cir. 1979) (en banc), vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss, 444 U.S. 996 (1979). The failure of the Justices to remark on standing is somewhat puzzling, since it has been stated that courts “turn initially, although not invariably, to the question of standing to sue.” Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208, 215 (1974). But see Harrington v. Bush, 553 F.2d 190, 207 (D.C. Cir. 1977). In any event, the Supreme Court’s decision vacating Goldwater deprives the Circuit’s language of precedential effect. United States v. Munsingwear, 340 U.S. 36, 39–40 (1950); O’Connor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563, 577 n.12 (1975).
- Riegle v. FOMC, 656 F.2d 873 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1082 (1981).
- 521 U.S. 811 (1997).
- The Act itself provided that “[a]ny Member of Congress or any individual adversely affected” could sue to challenge the law. 2 U.S.C. § 692(a)(1). After failure of this litigation, the Court in the following Term, on suits brought by claimants adversely affected by the exercise of the veto, held the statute unconstitutional. Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998).
- 521 U.S. at 819.
- 521 U.S. at 821.
- 307 U.S. 433 (1939).
- 521 U.S. at 823.
- 521 U.S. at 824–26.
- See Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939).
- Ariz. State Legislature v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, 576 U.S. ___, No. 13–1314, slip op. at 14 (2015).
- Id. at 10.
- Id. at 14 n.12.
- Ass’n of Data Processing Service Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 151–152 (1970), citing Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101 (1968). “But where a dispute is otherwise justiciable, the question whether the litigant is a ‘proper party to request an adjudication of a particular issue,’ [quoting Flast, supra, at 100], is one within the power of Congress to determine.” Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 732 n.3 (1972).
- Tennessee Electric Power Co. v. TVA, 306 U.S. 118, 137–138 (1939). See also Alabama Power Co. v. Ickes, 302 U.S. 464 (1938); Perkins v. Lukens Steel Co., 310 U.S. 113 (1940).
- Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 152 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter concurring). This was apparently the point of the definition of “legal right” as “one of property, one arising out of contract, one protected against tortious invasion, or one founded on a statute which confers a privilege.” Tennessee Electric Power Co. v. TVA, 306 U.S. 118, 137–138 (1939).
- Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 152 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter concurring). The Court approached this concept in two interrelated ways. (1) It might be that a plaintiff had an interest that it was one of the purposes of the statute in question to protect in some degree. Chicago Junction Case, 264 U.S. 258 (1924); Alexander Sprunt & Son v. United States, 281 U.S. 249 (1930); Alton R.R. v. United States, 315 U.S. 15 (1942). Thus, in Hardin v. Kentucky Utilities Co., 390 U.S. 1 (1968), a private utility was held to have standing to contest allegedly illegal competition by TVA on the ground that the statute was meant to give private utilities some protection from certain forms of TVA competition. (2) It might be that a plaintiff was a “person aggrieved” within the terms of a judicial review section of an administrative or regulatory statute. Injury to an economic interest was sufficient to “aggrieve” a litigant. FCC v. Sanders Brothers Radio Station, 309 U.S. 470 (1940); Associated Industries v. Ickes, 134 F.2d 694 (2d Cir. 1943), cert. dismissed as moot, 320 U.S. 707 (1943).
- 5 U.S.C. § 702. See also 47 U.S.C. § 202(b)(6) (FCC); 15 U.S.C. § 77i(a) (SEC); 16 U.S.C. § 825a(b) (FPC).
- FCC v. Sanders Brothers Radio Station, 309 U.S. 470, 477 (1940); City of Chicago v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 357 U.S. 77, 83 (1958); Hardin v. Kentucky Utilities Co., 390 U.S. 1, 7 (1968).
- Ass’n of Data Processing Service Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150 (1970); Barlow v. Collins, 397 U.S. 159 (1970). Justices Brennan and White argued that only injury-in-fact should be requisite for standing. Id. at 167. In Clarke v. Securities Industry Ass’n, 479 U.S. 388 (1987), the Court applied a liberalized zone-of-interest test. But see Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 885–889 (1990); Air Courier Conf. v. American Postal Workers Union, 498 U.S. 517 (1991). In applying these standards, the Court, once it determined that the litigant’s interests were “arguably protected” by the statute in question, proceeded to the merits without thereafter pausing to inquire whether in fact the interests asserted were among those protected. Arnold Tours v. Camp, 400 U.S. 45 (1970); Investment Company Institute v. Camp, 401 U.S. 617 (1971); Boston Stock Exchange v. State Tax Comm’n, 429 U.S. 318, 320 n.3 (1977). Almost contemporaneously, the Court also liberalized the ripeness requirement in review of administrative actions. Gardner v. Toilet Goods Ass’n, Inc., 387 U.S. 167 (1967); Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136 (1967). See also National Credit Union Administration v. First National Bank & Trust Co., 522 U.S. 479 (1998), in which the Court found that a bank had standing to challenge an agency ruling expanding the role of employer credit unions to include multi-employer credit unions, despite a statutory limit that any such union could be of groups having a common bond of occupation or association. The Court held that a plaintiff did not have to show it was the congressional purpose to protect its interests. It is sufficient if the interest asserted is “arguably within the zone of interests to be protected . . . by the statute.” Id. at 492 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). But the Court divided 5-to-4 in applying the test. See also Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154 (1997).
- Ass’n of Data Processing Service Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 154 (1970).
- Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 734 (1972), Moreover, said the Court, once a person establishes that he has standing to seek judicial review of an action because of particularized injury to him, he may argue the public interest as a “representative of the public interest,” as a “private attorney general,” so that he may contest not only the action which injures him but the entire complex of actions of which his injury-inducing action is a part. Id. at 737–738, noting Scripps-Howard Radio v. FCC, 316 U.S. 4 (1942); FCC v. Sanders Brothers Radio Station, 309 U.S. (1940). See also Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 103 n. (1979); Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 376 n.16 (1982) (noting ability of such party to represent interests of third parties).
- United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 683–690 (1973). As was noted above, this case has been disparaged by the later Court. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 566–67 (1992); Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 158–160 (1990).
- See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992); Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871 (1990). But see Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154 (1997) (fact that citizen suit provision of Endangered Species Act is directed at empowering suits to further environmental concerns does not mean that suitor who alleges economic harm from enforcement of Act lacks standing); FEC v. Akins, 524 U.S. 11 (1998) (expansion of standing based on denial of access to information).
- Alabama State Fed’n of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461 (1945).
- Giles v. Harris, 189 U.S. 475, 486 (1903).
- 258 U.S. 158 (1922).
- 258 U.S. at 162.
- 297 U.S. 288 (1936).
- 297 U.S. at 324. Chief Justice Hughes cited New York v. Illinois, 274 U.S. 488 (1927), in which the Court dismissed as presenting abstract questions a suit about the possible effects of the diversion of water from Lake Michigan upon hypothetical water power developments in the indefinite future, and Arizona v. California, 283 U.S. 423 (1931), in which it was held that claims based merely upon assumed potential invasions of rights were insufficient to warrant judicial intervention. See also Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 484–485 (1923); New Jersey v. Sargent, 269 U.S. 328, 338–340 (1926); Georgia v. Stanton, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 50, 76 (1867).
- 330 U.S. 75 (1947).
- 330 U.S. at 89–91. Justices Black and Douglas dissented, contending that the controversy was justiciable. Justice Douglas could not agree that the plaintiffs should have to violate the act and lose their jobs in order to test their rights. In CSC v. National Ass’n of Letter Carriers, 413 U.S. 548 (1973), the concerns expressed in Mitchell were largely ignored as the Court reached the merits in an anticipatory attack on the Act. Compare Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968).
- 1 C. Warren, supra at 108–111. The full text of the exchange appears in 3 CORRESPONDENCE AND PUBLIC PAPERS OF JOHN JAY 486–489 (H. Johnston ed., 1893).
- Jay Papers at 488.
- Chicago & S. Air Lines v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 113 (1948).
- See supra.
- 1 C. Warren, supra at 595–597.
- Reorganization of the Judiciary: Hearings on S. 1392 Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 75th Congress, 1st Sess. (1937), pt. 3, 491. See also Chief Justice Taney’s private advisory opinion to the Secretary of the Treasury that a tax levied on the salaries of federal judges violated the Constitution. S. TYLER, MEMOIRS OF ROGER B. TANEY 432–435 (1876).
- E.g., Acheson, Removing the Shadow Cast on the Courts, 55 A.B.A.J. 919 (1969); Jaffe, Professors and Judges as Advisors to Government: Reflections on the Roosevelt-Frankfurter Relationship, 83 HARV. L. REV. 366 (1969). The issue earned the attention of the Supreme Court, Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361, 397–408 (1989) (citing examples and detailed secondary sources), when it upheld the congressionally authorized service of federal judges on the Sentencing Commission.
- Chicago & S. Air Lines v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 113–114 (1948).
- Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (1911).
- United States v. Ferreira, 54 U.S. (13 How.) 40 (1852).
- United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947).
- Cf. Willing v. Chicago Auditorium Ass’n, 277 U.S. 274 (1928).
- Fidelity National Bank & Trust Co. v. Swope, 274 U.S. 123 (1927); Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Wallace, 288 U.S. 249 (1963). Wallace was cited with approval in Medimmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 126 (2007) (“Article III’s limitation of federal courts’ jurisdiction to ‘Cases’ and ‘Controversies,’ reflected in the ‘actual controversy’ requirement of the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a), [does not] require[ ] a patent licensee to terminate or be in breach of its license agreement before it can seek a declaratory judgment that the underlying patent is invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed,” id. at 120–21).
- 48 Stat. 955, as amended, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201–2202.
- Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227 (1937) (cited with approval in Medimmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 126 (2007)).
- H. REP. NO. 1264, 73d Congress, 2d Sess. (1934), 2.
- S. REP. NO. 1005, 73d Congress, 2d Sess. (1934), 2.
- 48 Stat. 955. The language remains quite similar. 28 U.S.C. § 2201.
- Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 239–240 (1937).
- 300 U.S. at 242–44.
- Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461 (1945).
- Maryland Casualty Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co., 312 U.S. 270, 273 (1941).
- Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of America, 316 U.S. 491, 494 (1942); Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237, 243 (1952); Public Affairs Associates v. Rickover, 369 U.S. 111, 112 (1962). See also Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277 (1995).
- An exception “with respect to Federal taxes” was added in 1935. 49 Stat. 1027. The Tax Injunction Act of 1937, 50 Stat. 738, U.S.C. § 1341, prohibited federal injunctive relief directed at state taxes but said nothing about declaratory relief. It was held to apply, however, in California v. Grace Brethren Church, 457 U.S. 393 (1982). Earlier, in Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Huffman, 319 U.S. 293 (1943), the Court had reserved the issue but held that considerations of comity should preclude federal courts from giving declaratory relief in such cases. Cf. Fair Assessment in Real Estate Ass’n v. McNary, 454 U.S. 100 (1981).
- E.g., Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936); Electric Bond Co. v. SEC, 303 U.S. 419 (1938); United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947); Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426 (1948); Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549, 572–573 (1947).
- United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947); Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961); Altvater v. Freeman, 319 U.S. 359 (1943); International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd, 347 U.S. 222 (1954); Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237 (1952).
- E.g., Currin v. Wallace, 306 U.S. 1 (1939); Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939); Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936); Evers v. Dwyer, 358 U.S. 202 (1958).
- E.g., Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360 (1964); Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967); Turner v. City of Memphis, 369 U.S. 350 (1962); Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486 (1969). But see Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969).
- 389 U.S. 241 (1967).
- 380 U.S. 479 (1965).
- Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 248 (1967).
- Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 254 (1967).
- Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66 (1971). The case and its companion, Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), substantially undercut much of the Dombrowski language and much of Zwickler was downgraded.
- Hicks v. Miranda, 422 U.S. 332, 349 (1975).
- Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452 (1974). In cases covered by Steffel, the federal court may issue preliminary or permanent injunctions to protect its judgments, without satisfying the Younger tests. Doran v. Salem Inn, 422 U.S. 922, 930–931 (1975); Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 712 (1977).
- United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75 (1947); International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd, 347 U.S. 222 (1954). For recent examples of lack of ripeness, see Ohio Forestry Ass’n v. Sierra Club, 523 U.S. 726 (1998); Texas v. United States, 523 U.S. 296 (1998).
- Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102, 138–148 (1974) (certainty of injury a constitutional limitation, factual adequacy element a prudential one).
- Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 81–82 (1978) (that plaintiffs suffer injury-in-fact and such injury would be redressed by granting requested relief satisfies Article III ripeness requirement; prudential element satisfied by determination that Court would not be better prepared to render a decision later than now). But compare Renne v. Geary, 501 U.S. 312 (1991).
- 330 U.S. 75 (1947).
- 330 U.S. at 90. In CSC v. National Ass’n of Letter Carriers, 413 U.S. 548 (1973), without discussing ripeness, the Court decided on the merits anticipatory attacks on the Hatch Act. Plaintiffs had, however, alleged a variety of more concrete infringements upon their desires and intentions than the UPW plaintiffs had.
- International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd, 347 U.S. 222 (1954). See also Electric Bond Co. v. SEC, 303 U.S. 419 (1938); Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450 (1945); Public Service Comm’n v. Wycoff Co., 344 U.S. 237 (1952); Socialist Labor Party v. Gilligan, 406 U.S. 583 (1972).
- In Adler v. Board of Educ., 342 U.S. 485 (1952), without discussing ripeness, the Court decided on the merits a suit about a state law requiring dismissal of teachers advocating violent overthrow of the government, over a strong dissent arguing the case was indistinguishable from Mitchell. Id. at 504 (Justice Frankfurter dissenting). In Cramp v. Board of Pub. Instruction, 368 U.S. 278 (1961), a state employee was permitted to attack a non-Communist oath, although he alleged he believed he could take the oath in good faith and could prevail if prosecuted, because the oath was so vague as to subject plaintiff to the “risk of unfair prosecution and the potential deterrence of constitutionally protected conduct.” Id. at 283–84. See also Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360 (1964); Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967).
- E.g., Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961) (no adjudication of challenge to law barring use of contraceptives because in 80 years of the statute’s existence the state had never instituted a prosecution). But compare Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1987) (merits reached in absence of enforcement and fair indication state would not enforce it); Vance v. Amusement Co., 445 U.S. 308 (1980) (reaching merits, although state asserted law would not be used, although local prosecutor had so threatened; no discussion of ripeness, but dissent relied on Poe, id. at 317–18).
- E.g., Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 41–42 (1971); Boyle v. Landry, 401 U.S. 77 (1971); Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969); O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974); Spomer v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 514 (1974); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). In the context of the ripeness to challenge of agency regulations, as to which there is a presumption of available judicial remedies, the Court has long insisted that federal courts should be reluctant to review such regulations unless the effects of administrative action challenged have been felt in a concrete way by the challenging parties, i.e., unless the controversy is “ripe.” See, of the older cases, Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136 (1967); Toilet Goods Ass’n, Inc. v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 158 (1967); Gardner v. Toilet Goods Ass’n, Inc., 387 U.S. 167 (1967). More recent cases include Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U.S. 43 (1993); Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 891 (1990).
- E.g., California Bankers Ass’n v. Schultz, 416 U.S. 21 (1974); Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Recl. Ass’n, 452 U.S. 264, 294–297 (1981); Renne v. Geary, 501 U.S. 312, 320–323 (1991).
- Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452 (1974); Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 707–708, 710 (1977); Babbitt v. United Farm Workers, 442 U.S. 289, 297–305 (1979) (finding some claims ripe, others not). Compare Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 188–189 (1973), with Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 127–128 (1973). See also Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379 (1979).
- Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 113–118 (1976); Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102, 138–148 (1974) (holding some but not all the claims ripe). See also Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996, 997 (Justice Powell concurring) (parties had not put themselves in opposition).
- Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 81–82 (1978). The injury giving standing to plaintiffs was the environmental harm arising from the plant’s routine operation; the injury to their legal rights was alleged to be the harm caused by the limitation of liability in the event of a nuclear accident. The standing injury had occurred, the ripeness injury was conjectural and speculative and might never occur. See id. at 102 (Justice Stevens concurring in the result). It is evident on the face of the opinion and expressly stated by the objecting Justices that the Court used its standing/ripeness analyses in order to reach the merits, so as to remove the constitutional cloud cast upon the federal law by the district court decision. Id. at 95, 103 (Justices Rehnquist and Stevens concurring in the result).
- E.g., United States v. Munsingwear, 340 U.S. 36 (1950); Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 108 (1969); SEC v. Medical Committee for Human Rights, 404 U.S. 403 (1972); Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125 (1973); Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 398–399 (1975); United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 397 (1980), and id. at 411 (Justice Powell dissenting); Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361, 363 (1987); Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 317 (1988); Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477–478 (1990); Camreta V. Greene, 563 U.S. ___, No. 09–1954, slip op. (2011); United States v. Juvenile Male, 564 U.S. ___, No. 09–940, slip op. at 4 (2011). Munsingwear has long stood for the proposition that the appropriate practice of the Court in a civil case that had become moot while on the way to the Court or after certiorari had been granted was to vacate or reverse and remand with directions to dismiss. In U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership, 513 U.S. 18 (1994), however, the Court held that when mootness occurs because the parties have reached a settlement, vacatur of the judgment below is ordinarily not the best practice; instead, equitable principles should be applied so as to preserve a presumptively correct and valuable precedent, unless a court concludes that the public interest would be served by vacatur.
- Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477–78 (1990) (internal citations omitted). The Court’s emphasis upon mootness as a constitutional limitation mandated by Article III is long stated in the cases. E.g., Liner v. Jafco, 375 U.S. 301, 306 n.3 (1964); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974); Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 57 (1968). See Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 317 (1988), and id. at 332 (Justice Scalia dissenting). But compare Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 424 U.S. 747, 756 n.8 (1976) (referring to mootness as presenting policy rather than constitutional considerations).
- But see Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 470–72 (1974); id. at 477 (Justice White concurring), 482 n.3 (Justice Rehnquist concurring) (on res judicata effect in state court in subsequent prosecution). In any event, the statute authorizes the federal court to grant “[f]urther necessary or proper relief,” which could include enjoining state prosecutions.
- Award of process and execution are no longer essential to the concept of judicial power. Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227 (1937).
- Chafin v. Chafin, 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–1347, slip op. (2013) (appeal of district court order returning custody of a child to her mother in Scotland not made moot by physical return of child to Scotland and subsequent ruling of Scottish court in favor of the mother continuing to have custody).
- E.g., Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 54 U.S. (13 How.) 518 (1852); United States v. Alaska Steamship Co., 253 U.S. 113 (1920); Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45 (1969); Sanks v. Georgia, 401 U.S. 144 (1971); Richardson v. Wright, 405 U.S. 208 (1972); Diffenderfer v. Central Baptist Church, 404 U.S. 412 (1972); Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 481 (1990). But compare City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc., 455 U.S. 283, 288–289 (1982) (case not mooted by repeal of ordinance, since City made clear its intention to reenact it if free from lower court judgment); see also Decker v. Nw. Envtl. Def. Ctr., 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–338, slip op. (2013) (action to enforce penalty under former regulation not mooted by change in regulation where violation occurred before regulation was changed). Following Aladdin’s Castle, the Court in Northeastern Fla. Ch. of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 660–63 (1993), held that when a municipal ordinance is repealed but replaced by one sufficiently similar so that the challenged action in effect continues, the case is not moot. But see id. at 669 (Justice O’Connor dissenting) (modification of ordinance more significant and case is mooted).
- Atherton Mills v. Johnston, 259 U.S. 13 (1922) (in challenge to laws regulating labor of youths 14 to 16, Court held case two-and-one-half years after argument and dismissed as moot since certainly none of the challengers was now in the age bracket); Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103 (1969); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974); Dove v. United States, 423 U.S. 325 (1976); Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624 (1982). Compare County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625 (1979), with Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480 (1980). In Arizonans For Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43 (1997), a state employee attacking an English-only work requirement had standing at the time she brought the suit, but she resigned following a decision in the trial court, thus mooting the case before it was taken to the appellate court, which should not have acted to hear and decide it.
- E.g., Commercial Cable Co. v. Burleson, 250 U.S. 360 (1919); Oil Workers Local 8–6 v. Missouri, 361 U.S. 363 (1960); A.L. Mechling Barge Lines v. United States, 368 U.S. 324 (1961); Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395 (1975); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625 (1979); Alvarez v. Smith, 558 U.S. ___, No. 08–351 (2009).
- Sibron v. New York, 395 U.S. 40, 50–58 (1968). But compare Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1 (1998).
- Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784, 790–791 (1969). The cases have progressed from leaning toward mootness to leaning strongly against. E.g., St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41 (1943); Fiswick v. United States, 329 U.S. 211 (1946); United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502 (1954); Pollard v. United States, 352 U.S. 354 (1957); Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 633–634 n.2 (1968); Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 49–58 (1968).But see Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624 (1982);United States v. Juvenile Male, 564 U.S. ___, No. 09–940, slip op. at 6 (2011) (per curiam) (rejecting as too indirect a benefit that favorable resolution of a case might serve as beneficial precedent for a future case involving the plaintiff). The exception permits review at the instance of the prosecution as well as defendant. Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977). When a convicted defendant dies while his case is on direct review, the Court’s present practice is to dismiss the petition for certiorari. Dove v. United States, 423 U.S. 325 (1976), overruling Durham v. United States, 401 U.S. 481 (1971).
- Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 433, 452 (1911); Carroll v. President & Commr’s of Princess Anne, 393 U.S. 175 (1968). See Super Tire Engineering Co. v. McCorkle, 416 U.S. 115 (1974) (holding that expiration of strike did not moot employer challenge to state regulations entitling strikers to state welfare assistance since the consequences of the regulations would continue).
- United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Ass’n, 166 U.S. 290 (1897); Walling v. Helmerich & Payne, 323 U.S. 37 (1944); Porter v. Lee, 328 U.S. 246 (1946); United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629 (1953); Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368 (1963); United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass’n, 393 U.S. 199, 202–04 (1969); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 318 (1974); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631–34 (1979), and id. at 641–46 (Justice Powell dissenting); Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 486–487 (1980), and id. at 500–01 (Justice Stewart dissenting); Princeton University v. Schmidt, 455 U.S. 100 (1982); City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc., 455 U.S. 283, 288–289 (1982).
- United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 633 (1953) (quoting United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, 148 F.2d 416, 448 (2d. Cir. 1945)).
- Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc., 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–982, slip op. at 4 (2013) (dismissal of a trademark infringement claim against rival and submittal of an unconditional and irrevocable covenant not to sue satisfied the burden under the voluntary cessation test) (citing Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167, 190 (2000)). See also Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U.S. ___, No. 15–577, slip op. at 5 n.1 (2017) (holding that a governor’s announcement that religious organizations could compete for state monetary grants did not moot a case challenging a previous policy of issuing grants only to non-religious entities as the state had failed to carry its “heavy burden” of “making absolutely clear” that it could not revert to its policy of excluding religious organizations from the grant program).
- United States v. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 632 (1953). But see A.L. Mechling Barge Lines v. United States, 368 U.S. 324 (1961).
- 577 U.S. ___, No. 14–857, slip op. at 7–9 (2016) (“[W]ith no settlement offer still operative, the parties remained adverse; both retained the same stake in the litigation that they had at the outset.”). The Campbell-Ewald decision was limited to the question of whether an offer of complete relief moots a case. The Court left open the question of whether the payment of complete relief by a defendant to a plaintiff can render a case moot. Id. at 11.
- Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 515 (1911).
- Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 149 (1975); Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. 478, 482 (1982). See Super Tire Engineering Co. v. McCorkle, 416 U.S. 115, 125–26 (1974), and id. at 130–32 (Justice Stewart dissenting), Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167, 189–91 (2000),. The degree of expectation or likelihood that the issue will recur has frequently divided the Court. Compare Murphy v. Hunt, with Nebraska Press Ass’n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539 (1976); compare Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 318–23 (1988), with id. at 332 (Justice Scalia dissenting).
- See, e.g., Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 737 n.8 (1974); Rosario v. Rockefeller, 410 U.S. 752, 756 n.5 (1973); Moore v. Ogilvie, 394 U.S. 814, 816 (1969).
- See Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 124–125 (1973).
- See, e.g., Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 49–58 (1968). See also Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).
- See, e.g., Kingdomware Techs., Inc. v. United States, 579 U.S. ___, No. 14–916, slip op. at 7 (2016) (“We have previously held that a period of two years is too short to complete judicial review of the lawfulness of [a] procurement.”) (citing S. Pac. Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 514–16 (1911)).
- See, e.g., Carroll v. President & Commr’s of Princess Anne, 393 U.S. 175 (1968). See Neb. Press Ass’n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539 (1976) (short-term court order restricting press coverage).
- Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393 (1975); Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 424 U.S. 747, 752–757 (1976). A suit which proceeds as a class action but without formal certification may not receive the benefits of this rule. Board of School Commr’s v. Jacobs, 420 U.S. 128 (1975). See also Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147 (1975); Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler, 427 U.S. 424, 430 (1976). But see the characterization of these cases in United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 400 n.7 (1980). Mootness is not necessarily avoided in properly certified cases, but the standards of determination are unclear. See Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119 (1977).
- United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 396 (1980).
- 445 U.S. at 403. Justices Powell, Stewart, Rehnquist, and Chief Justice Burger dissented, id. at 409, arguing there could be no Article III personal stake in a procedural decision separate from the outcome of the case. In Deposit Guaranty Nat’l Bank v. Roper, 445 U.S. 326 (1980), in an opinion by Chief Justice Burger, the Court held that a class action was not mooted when defendant tendered to the named plaintiffs the full amount of recovery they had individually asked for and could hope to retain. Plaintiffs’ interest in shifting part of the share of costs of litigation to those who would share in its benefits if the class were certified was deemed to be a sufficient “personal stake”. Cf. Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 569 U.S. ___, No. 11–1059, slip op. (2013) (in the context of a “collective action” under the Fair Labor Standards Act where a plaintiff ’s individual claim was moot and no other individuals had joined the suit, holding that a plaintiff had no personal stake in the case that provided the court with subject matter jurisdiction). In a slightly different context, the Court, in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, held that neither an unaccepted settlement offer or an offer of judgment provided prior to class certification would moot a potential lead plaintiff ’s case. 577 U.S. ___, No. 14–857, slip op. at 11 (2016). According to the majority opinion, this holding avoided placing defendants in the “driver’s seat” with respect to class litigation wherein a defendant’s offer of settlement could eliminate a court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate potentially costly class actions. Id.
- The named plaintiff must still satisfy the class action requirement of adequacy of representation. United States Parole Comm’n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 405–407 (1980). On the implications of Geraghty, which the Court has not returned to, see Hart & Wechsler (6th ed.), supra at 194–198.
- Geraghty, 445 U.S. at 404 & n.11.
- 569 U.S. ___, No. 11–1059, slip op. (2013).
- For a masterful discussion of the issue in both criminal and civil contexts, see Fallon & Meltzer, New Law, Non-Retroactivity, and Constitutional Remedies, 104 HARV. L. REV. 1731 (1991).
- Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 301 (1967).
- England v. Louisiana Bd. of Medical Examiners, 375 U.S. 411, 422 (1964); James v. United States, 366 U.S. 213 (1961). See also Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 490 (1972).
- Noncriminal constitutional cases included Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192 (1973); City of Phoenix v. Kolodziejski, 399 U.S. 204 (1970); Cipriano v. City of Houma, 395 U.S. 701 (1969). Indeed, in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), and Northern Pipeline Constr. Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., 458 U.S. 50 (1982), the Court postponed the effectiveness of its decision for a period during which Congress could repair the flaws in the statute. Noncriminal, nonconstitutional cases include Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97 (1971); Allen v. State Board of Elections, 393 U.S. 544 (1969); Hanover Shoe v. United Shoe Machinery Corp., 392 U.S. 481 (1968); Simpson v. Union Oil Co., 377 U.S. 13 (1964).
- Because of shifting coalitions of Justices, Justice Harlan complained, the course of retroactivity decisions “became almost as difficult to follow as the tracks made by a beast of prey in search of its intended victim.” Mackey v. United States, 401 U.S. 667, 676 (1971) (separate opinion).
- Robinson v. Neil, 409 U.S. 505, 507 (1973). The older rule of retroactivity derived from the Blackstonian notion “that the duty of the court was not to ‘pronounce a new law, but to maintain and expound the old one.’ ” Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 622–23 (1965) (quoting 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *69).
- Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192, 198–99 (1973).
- Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618 (1965); Tehan v. United States ex rel. Shott, 382 U.S. 406 (1966).
- Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719 (1966); Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293 (1967); Adams v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 278 (1972).
- Desist v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 248 (1969); United States v. Peltier, 422 U.S. 531 (1975); Brown v. Louisiana, 447 U.S. 323, 335–36 (1980) (plurality opinion); Michigan v. Payne, 412 U.S. 47, 55 (1973); United States v. Johnson, 457 U.S. 537, 549–50, 551–52 (1982).
- Williams v. United States, 401 U.S. 646, 653 (1971) (plurality opinion); Brown v. Louisiana, 447 U.S. 323, 328–30 (1980) (plurality opinion); Hankerson v. North Carolina, 432 U.S. 233, 243 (1977).
- United States v. United States Coin & Currency, 401 U.S. 715, 724 (1971); Moore v. Illinois, 408 U.S. 786, 800 (1972); Robinson v. Neil, 409 U.S. 505, 509 (1973).
- Mackey v. United States, 401 U.S. 667, 675 (1971) (separate opinion); Desist v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 256 (1969) (dissenting). Justice Powell has also strongly supported the proposed rule. Hankerson v. North Carolina, 432 U.S. 233, 246–248 (1977) (concurring in judgment); Brown v. Louisiana, 447 U.S. 323, 337 (1980) (concurring in judgment).
- Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314, 328 (1987) (cited with approval in Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 416 (2007)).
- 489 U.S. 288 (1989).
- 492 U.S. 302 (1989).
- Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 416 (2007). Put another way, it is not enough that a decision is “within the ‘logical compass’ of an earlier decision, or indeed that it is ‘controlled’ by a prior decision.” A decision announces a “new rule” if its result “was susceptible to debate among reasonable minds” and if it was not “an illogical or even a grudging application” of the prior decision. Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 412–415 (1990). For additional elaboration on “new law,” see O’Dell v. Netherland, 521 U.S. 151 (1997); Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518 (1997); Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152 (1996). But compare Bousley v. Brooks, 523 U.S. 614 (1998).
- For an example of the application of the Teague rule in federal collateral review of a federal court conviction, see Chaidez v. United States, 568 U.S. ___, No. 11–820, slip op. (2013). See also Welch v. United States, 578 U.S. ___, No. 15–6418, slip op. at 7 (2016) (assuming, without deciding, that the Teague framework “applies in a federal collateral challenge to a federal conviction as it does in a federal collateral challenge to a state conviction”).
- Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 416 (2007).
- Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 307, 311–313 (1989) (plurality opinion); see also Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 415–416 (1990).
- See Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. ___, No. 14–280, slip op. at 12 (2016) (“If a State may not constitutionally insist that a prisoner remain in jail on federal habeas review, it may not constitutionally insist on the same result in its own postconviction proceedings.”). The Court reasoned as such because new substantive rules constitute wholesale prohibitions on the state’s power to convict or sentence a criminal defendant under certain circumstances, making the underlying conviction or sentence void and providing the state with no authority to leave the underlying judgment in place during collateral review. Id. at 10–11; see also id. at 12 (“A penalty imposed pursuant to an unconstitutional law is no less void because the prisoner’s sentence became final before the law was held unconstitutional. There is no grandfather clause that permits States to enforce punishments the Constitution forbids.”).
- See Montgomery, slip op. at 8 (“[T]he Constitution requires substantive rules to have retroactive effect regardless of when a conviction became final.”)
- Id. at 9.
- See Welch, slip op. at 11; see also Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 353 (2004); Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 330 (1989). Accordingly, the Court has rejected the argument that the underlying “source” of a constitutional rule—i.e., the fact that a constitutional rule on its face creates substantive or procedural rights— can determine the retroactivity of a ruling. See Welch, slip op. at 10 (“[T]his Court has determined whether a new rule is substantive . . . by considering the function of the rule, not its underlying constitutional source.”).
- Sawyer v. Smith, 497 U.S. 227, 242 (1990) (emphasis in original) (internal quotations and citations omitted). For application of these principles, see Montgomery, slip op. at 14–17 (holding that the Court, in interpreting the Eighth Amendment to prohibit mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders, “did announce a new substantive rule” because the prohibition necessarily placed beyond the power of a state a particular punishment with respect to the “vast majority of juvenile offenders”). See also Welch, slip op. at 9–11 (holding that a conviction under a statute that was later found to be void for vagueness is a substantive rule, as the invalidity of the law under the Due Process Clause altered the “range of conduct or class of persons that the law punishes.”); Schriro, 542 U.S. at 352 (holding that the requirement that aggravating factors justifying the death penalty be found by the jury was a new procedural rule that did not apply retroactively).
- The standard that has been applied was enunciated in Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97 (1971). Briefly, the question of retroactivity or prospectivity was to be determined by a balancing of the equities. To be limited to prospectivity, a decision must have established a new principle of law, either by overruling clear past precedent on which reliance has been had or by deciding an issue of first impression whose resolution was not clearly foreshadowed. The courts must look to the prior history of the rule in question, its purpose and effect, and whether retrospective operation will further or retard its operation. Then, the courts must look to see whether a decision to apply retroactively a decision will produce substantial inequitable results. Id. at 106–07. American Trucking Assn’s v. Smith, 496 U.S. 167, 179–86 (1990) (plurality opinion).
- James B. Beam Distilling Co. v. Georgia, 501 U.S. 529 (1991); American Trucking Assn’s, Inc. v. Smith, 496 U.S. 167 (1990).
- The holding described in the text is expressly that of only a two-Justice plurality. 501 U.S. at 534–44 (Justices Souter and Stevens). Justice White, Justice Blackmun, and Justice Scalia (with Justice Marshall joining the latter Justices) concurred, id. at 544, 547, 548 (respectively), but on other, and in the instance of the three latter Justices, and broader justifications. Justices O’Connor and Kennedy and Chief Justice Rehnquist dissented. Id. at 549.
- 501 U.S. at 549 (dissenting opinion of Justices O’Connor and Kennedy and Chief Justice Rehnquist), and id. at 544 (Justice White concurring). See also Smith, 496 U.S. at 171 (plurality opinion of Justices O’Connor, White, Kennedy, and Chief Justice Rehnquist).
- 501 U.S. at 547, 548 (Justices Blackmun, Scalia, and Marshall concurring). In Smith, 496 U.S. at 205, these three Justices had joined the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens arguing that constitutional decisions must be given retroactive effect.
- 509 U.S. 86 (1993).
- 509 U.S. at 97. Although the conditional language in this passage might suggest that the Court was leaving open the possibility that in some cases it might rule purely prospectively, and not even apply its decision to the parties before it, other language belies that possibility. “This rule extends Griffith’s ban against ‘selective application of new rules.’ ” (Citing Griffith, 479 U.S. at 323.) Because Griffith rested in part on the principle that “the nature of judicial review requires that [the Court] adjudicate specific cases,” 479 U.S. at 322, deriving from Article III’s case or controversy requirement for federal courts and forbidding federal courts from acting legislatively, “ ‘the Court has no more constitutional authority in civil cases than in criminal cases to disregard current law or to treat similarly situated litigants differently.’ ” 509 U.S. at 97 (quoting Smith, 496 U.S. at 214 (Justice Stevens dissenting)). The point is made more clearly in Justice Scalia’s concurrence, in which he denounces all forms of nonretroactivity as “the handmaid of judicial activism.” Id. at 105.
- 509 U.S. at 110 (Justice Kennedy, with Justice White, concurring); 113 (Justice O’Connor, with Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting). However, these Justices disagreed in this case about the proper application of Chevron Oil.
- But see Reynoldsville Casket Co. v. Hyde, 514 U.S. 749 (1995) (setting aside a state court refusal to give retroactive effect to a U.S. Supreme Court invalidation of that state’s statute of limitations in certain suits, in an opinion by Justice Breyer, Justice Blackmun’s successor); Ryder v. United States, 515 U.S. 177, 184–85 (1995) (“whatever the continuing validity of Chevron Oil after” Harper and Reynoldsville Casket).
- Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549, 570 (1947); cf. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 278 (1962) (Justice Frankfurter dissenting). The most successful effort at conceptualization of the doctrine is Scharpf, Judicial Review and the Political Question: A Functional Analysis, 75 YALE L.J. 517 (1966). See Hart & Wechsler (6th ed.), supra at 222–248.
- Frank, Political Questions, in SUPREME COURT AND SUPREME LAW (E. Cahn, ed., 1954), at 36.
- The concept of political question is “more amenable to description by infinite itemization than by generalization” Id.
- Baker v. Carr , 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962).
- 369 U.S. at 208–232.
- 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199 (1796).
- 25 U.S. (12 Wheat.) 19 (1827).
- 5 U.S. (1 Cr.) 137 (1803).
- 5 U.S. (1 Cr.) at 170. In Decatur v. Paulding, 39 U.S. (14 Pet.) 497, 516 (1840), the Court, refusing an effort by mandamus to compel the Secretary of the Navy to pay a pension, said: “The interference of the courts with the performance of the ordinary duties of the executive departments of the government, would be productive of nothing but mischief; and we are quite satisfied, that such a power was never intended to be given to them.” It therefore follows that mandamus will lie against an executive official only to compel the performance of a ministerial duty, which admits of no discretion, and may not be invoked to control executive or political duties which admit of discretion. See Georgia v. Stanton, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 50 (1867); Mississippi v. Johnson, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 475 (1867); Kendall v. United States ex rel. Stokes, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 524 (1838).
- 48 U.S. (7 How.) 1 (1849).
- Cf. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 218–22 (1962); id. at 292–97 (Justice Frankfurter dissenting).
- Luther, 48 U.S. (7 How.) at 40.
- 48 U.S. at 42 (citing Article IV, § 4).
- 48 U.S. at 42.
- 48 U.S. at 43.
- 48 U.S. at 44.
- 369 U.S. 186 (1962).
- Colegrove v. Green, 328 U.S. 549 (1946); Colegrove v. Barrett, 330 U.S. 804 (1947).
- South v. Peters, 339 U.S. 276 (1950) (county unit system for election of state-wide officers with vote heavily weighted in favor of rural, lightly populated counties).
- MacDougall v. Green, 335 U.S. 281 (1948) (signatures on nominating petitions must be spread among counties of unequal population).
- Article IV, § 4.
- As it was on the established government of Rhode Island in Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. (7 How.) 1 (1849). See also Texas v. White, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 700 (1869); Taylor v. Beckham, 178 U.S. 548 (1900).
- Pacific States Tel. Co. v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118 (1912) (challenging tax initiative); Kiernan v. City of Portland, 223 U.S. 151 (1912) (attacks on initiative and referendum); Marshall v. Dye, 231 U.S. 250 (1913) (state constitutional amendment procedure); O’Neill v. Leamer, 239 U.S. 244 (1915) (delegation to court to form drainage districts); Ohio ex rel. Davis v. Hildebrant, 241 U.S. 565 (1916) (submission of legislation to referendum); Mountain Timber Co. v. Washington, 243 U.S. 219 (1917) (workmen’s compensation); Ohio ex rel. Bryant v. Akron Metropolitan Park District, 281 U.S. 74 (1930) (concurrence of all but one justice of state high court required to invalidate statute); Highland Farms Dairy v. Agnew, 300 U.S. 608 (1937) (delegation of legislative powers).
- All the cases, however, predate the application of the doctrine in Pacific States Tel. Co. v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118 (1912). See Attorney General of the State of Michigan ex rel. Kies v. Lowrey, 199 U.S. 233, 239 (1905) (legislative creation and alteration of school districts “compatible” with a republican form of government); Forsyth v. City of Hammond, 166 U.S. 506, 519 (1897) (delegation of power to court to determine municipal boundaries does not infringe republican form of government); Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162, 175–176 (1875) (denial of suffrage to women no violation of republican form of government).
- Oetjen v. Central Leather Co., 246 U.S. 297, 302 (1918); Chicago & S. Air Lines v. Waterman Steamship Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 111 (1948).
- United States v. Palmer, 16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 610 (1818); Kennett v. Chambers, 55 U.S. (14 How.) 38 (1852).
- Jones v. United States, 137 U.S. 202 (1890); Oetjen v. Central Leather Co., 246 U.S. 297 (1918). See Ex parte Hitz, 111 U.S. 766 (1884).
- United States v. The Three Friends, 166 U.S. 1 (1897); In re Baiz, 135 U.S. 403 (1890). Cf. Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U.S. 398 (1964).
- United States v. Reynes, 50 U.S. (9 How.) 127 (1850); Garcia v. Lee, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 511 (1838); Keene v. McDonough, 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 308 (1834). See also Williams v. Suffolk Ins. Co., 38 U.S. (13 Pet.) 415 (1839); Underhill v. Hernandez, 168 U.S. 250 (1897). But see United States v. Belmont, 301 U.S. 324 (1937). On the “act of state” doctrine, compare Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U.S. 398 (1964), with First National City Bank v. Banco Nacional de Cuba, 406 U.S. 759 (1972). See also First National City Bank v. Banco Para el Comercio de Cuba, 462 U.S. 611 (1983); W.S. Kirkpatrick & Co. v. Environmental Tectronics Corp., U.S. 400 (1990).
- Doe v. Braden, 57 U.S. (16 How.) 635 (1853).
- Terlinden v. Ames, 184 U.S. 270 (1902); Clark v. Allen, 331 U.S. 503 (1947).
- Kennett v. Chambers, 55 U.S. (14 How.) 38 (1852). On the effect of a violation by a foreign state on the continuing effectiveness of the treaty, see Ware v. Hylton, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199 (1796); Charlton v. Kelly, 229 U.S. 447 (1913).
- Ware v. Hylton, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199 (1796). Cf. Chinese Exclusion Case (Chae Chan Ping v. United States), 130 U.S. 581 (1889) (conflict of treaty with federal law). On the modern formulation, see Japan Whaling Ass’n v. American Cetacean Society, 478 U.S. 221, 229–230 (1986).
- Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939); United States v. Rauscher, 119 U.S. 407 (1886).
- Commercial Trust Co v. Miller, 262 U.S. 51 (1923); Woods v. Cloyd W. Miller Co., 333 U.S. 138 (1948); Chastleton Corp. v. Sinclair, 264 U.S. 543 (1924); Ludecke v. Watkins, 335 U.S. 160 (1948); Lee v. Madigan, 358 U.S. 228 (1959); The Divina Pastora, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 52 (1819). The cases involving the status of Indian tribes as foreign states usually but not always have presented political questions. The Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1 (1831); United States v. Sandoval, 231 U.S. 28 (1913); Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832).
- Field v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649 (1892); Harwood v. Wentworth, 162 U.S. 547 (1896); cf. Gardner v. The Collector, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 499 (1868). See, for the modern formulation, United States v. Munoz-Flores, 495 U.S. 385 (1990).
- Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939) (Congress’s discretion to determine what passage of time will cause an amendment to lapse, and effect of previous rejection by legislature).
- Missouri Pac. Ry. v. Kansas, 248 U.S. 276 (1919); Rainey v. United States, 232 U.S. 310 (1914); Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., 220 U.S. 107 (1911); Twin City National Bank v. Nebeker, 167 U.S. 196 (1897); Lyons v. Woods, 153 U.S. 649 (1894); United States v. Ballin, 144 U.S. 1 (1892) (statutes); United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716 (1931); Leser v. Garnett, 258 U.S. 130 (1922); Dillon v. Gloss, 256 U.S. 368 (1921); Hawke v. Smith (No. 1), 253 U.S. 221 (1920); National Prohibition Cases, 253 U.S. 350 (1920); Hollingsworth v. Virginia, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 378 (1798) (constitutional amendments).
- Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655 (1929); Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 583 (1938).
- See, e.g., Chicago & S. Air Lines v. Waterman Steamship Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 111 (1948); Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 453, (1939).
- See, e.g., Williams v. Suffolk Ins. Co., 38 U.S. (13 Pet.) 415, 420 (1839). Similar considerations underlay the opinion in Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. (7 How.) 1 (1849), in which Chief Justice Taney wondered how a court decision in favor of one faction would be received with Congress seating the representatives of the other faction and the President supporting that faction with military force.
- Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 217, 226 (1962) (opinion of the Court); id. at 268, 287, 295 (Justice Frankfurter dissenting)
- For a statement of the “prudential” view, see generally A. BICKEL, THE LEAST DANGEROUS BRANCH: THE SUPREME COURT AT THE BAR OF POLITICS (1962), but see esp. 23–28, 69–71, 183–198. See also Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 267 (1962) (Justice Frankfurter dissenting.) The opposing view, which has been called the “classicist” view, is that courts are duty bound to decide all cases properly before them. Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 264, 404 (1821). See also H. WECHSLER, PRINCIPLES, POLITICS, AND FUNDAMENTAL LAW: SELECTED ESSAYS 11–15 (1961).
- 369 U.S. 186 (1962).
- Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964); Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964); Hadley v. Junior College District, 397 U.S. 50 (1970) (apportionment and districting, congressional, legislative, and local); Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368 (1963) (county unit system weighing statewide elections); Moore v. Ogilvie, 394 U.S. 814 (1969) (geographic dispersion of persons signing nominating petitions).
- See, e.g., Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486 (1969). Nonetheless, the doctrine continues to be sighted.
- Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 210 (1962). This formulation fails to explain cases like Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909), in which the conclusion of the governor of a state that insurrection existed or was imminent justifying suspension of constitutional rights was deemed binding on the Court. Cf. Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378 (1932). The political question doctrine was applied in cases challenging the regularity of enactments of territorial legislatures. Harwood v. Wentworth, 162 U.S. 547 (1896); Lyons v. Woods, 153 U.S. 649 (1894); Clough v. Curtis, 134 U.S. 361 (1890). See also In re Sawyer, 124 U.S. 200 (1888); Walton v. House of Representatives, 265 U.S. 487 (1924).
- 369 U.S. at 210.
- 369 U.S. at 211.
- 369 U.S. at 217. It remains unclear after Baker whether the political question doctrine is applicable solely to intrafederal issues or only primarily, so that the existence of one or more of these factors in a case involving, say, a state, might still give rise to nonjusticiability. At one point, id. at 210, Justice Brennan says that nonjusticiability of a political question is “primarily” a function of separation of powers but in the immediately preceding paragraph he states that “it is” the intrafederal aspect “and not the federal judiciary’s relationship to the States” that raises political questions. But subsequently, id. at 226, he balances the present case, which involves a state and not a branch of the Federal Government, against each of the factors listed in the instant quotation and notes that none apply. His discussion of why Guarantee Clause cases are political presents much the same difficulty, id. at 222–26, because he joins the conclusion that the clause commits resolution of such issues to Congress with the assertion that the clause contains no “criteria by which a court could determine which form of government was republican,” id. at 222, a factor not present when the Equal Protection Clause is relied on. Id. at 226.
- Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116 (1966).
- 395 U.S. 486 (1969).
- Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962).
- 395 U.S. at 319.
- 395 U.S. at 519–47. The Court noted, however, that even if this conclusion had not been reached from unambiguous evidence, the result would have followed from other considerations. Id. at 547–48.
- See H. Wechsler, supra at 11–12. Professor Wechsler believed that congressional decisions about seating members were immune to review. Id. Chief Justice Warren noted that “federal courts might still be barred by the political question doctrine from reviewing the House’s factual determination that a member did not meet one of the standing qualifications. This is an issue not presented in this case and we express no view as to its resolution.” Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 521 n.42 (1969). See also id. at 507 n.27 (reservation on limitations that might exist on Congress’s power to expel or otherwise punish a sitting member).
- 395 U.S. at 548–549. With the formulation of Chief Justice Warren, compare that of then-Judge Burger in the lower court. 395 F.2d 577, 591–96 (D.C. Cir. 1968).
- Gilligan v. Morgan, 413 U.S. 1, 10 (1973). Similar prudential concerns seem to underlay, though they did not provide the formal basis for, the decisions in O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974), and Mayor of Philadelphia v. Educational Equality League, 415 U.S. 605 (1974).
- 413 U.S. at 11. Other considerations of justiciability, however, id. at 10, preclude using the case as square precedent on political questions. Notice that in Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 249 (1974), the Court denied that the Gilligan v. Morgan holding barred adjudication of damage actions brought against state officials by the estates of students killed in the course of the conduct that gave rise to both cases.
- O’Brien v. Brown, 409 U.S. 1 (1972) (granting stay). The issue was mooted by the passage of time and was not thereafter considered on the merits by the Court. Id. at 816 (remanding to dismiss as moot). It was also not before the Court in Cousins v. Wigoda, 419 U.S. 477 (1975), but it was alluded to there. See id. at 483 n.4, and id. at 491 (Justice Rehnquist concurring). See also Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996, 1002 (1979) (Justices Rehnquist, Stewart, and Stevens, and Chief Justice Burger using political question analysis to dismiss a challenge to presidential action). But see id. at 997, 998 (Justice Powell rejecting analysis for this type of case).
- Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224 (1993). The Court pronounced its decision as perfectly consonant with Powell v. McCormack. Id. at 236–38.
- Japan Whaling Ass’n v. American Cetacean Society, 478 U.S. 221, 230 (1986). See also Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U.S. 109 (1986) (challenge to political gerrymandering is justiciable). But see Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004) (no workable standard has been found for measuring burdens on representational rights imposed by political gerrymandering).
- United States v. Munoz-Flores, 495 U.S. 385 (1990).
- 495 U.S. at 390 (emphasis in original).
- 495 U.S. at 393.
- 495 U.S. at 393–95.
- 495 U.S. at 395–96.
- 566 U.S. ___, No. 10–699, slip op. (2010).
- This left it to Justice Sotomayor and Justice Breyer to raise and address the other considerations, respectively, in concurrence and dissent.
- 566 U.S. ___, No. 10–699, slip op. at 8.
- See Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Bd., 531 U.S. 70 (2000); and Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000).
- 12th Amendment.