The Ripeness Doctrine Since 1967: Hardship
Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:
The Judicial Power shall extend to 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;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
When considering Abbott Laboratories' “hardship” prong, the Supreme Court has often considered whether one or more of the parties face adverse legal consequences as a result of the challenged action.1 For instance, in Ohio Civil Rights Commission v. Dayton Christian Schools, Inc., the Ohio Civil Rights Commission initiated administrative proceedings against a nonprofit religious education provider, alleging that the nonprofit had discriminated against one of its teachers on the basis of sex.2 The nonprofit asserted that it terminated the teacher based on its religious views that mothers should stay home with school-aged children, and that the Commission’s actions consequently violated the First Amendment's Religion Clauses.3 The nonprofit thus filed a federal lawsuit to enjoin the administrative proceedings. The Supreme Court ruled that the Commission's administrative action threatened the nonprofit with sanctions for allegedly constitutionally protected conduct, and thus that the nonprofit's challenge to those proceedings was ripe.4
- AT&T Corp. v. Iowa Utils. Bd., 525 U.S. 366, 386 (1999) ( “When . . . there is no immediate effect on the plaintiff's primary conduct, federal courts normally do not entertain pre-enforcement challenges to agency rules and policy statements.” ); Reno v. Catholic Soc. Servs., Inc., 509 U.S. 43, 58 (1993) (holding that a challenge to a regulation that “impose[d] no penalties for violating any newly imposed restriction” would “not be ripe before the regulation's application to the plaintiffs in some more acute fashion” ); Nat'l Park Hosp. Ass'n v. Dep't of Interior, 538 U.S. 803, 809 (2003) (explaining that “a hardship showing” requires “adverse effects of a strictly legal kind” ) (quoting Ohio Forestry Ass'n, Inc. v. Sierra Club, 523 U.S. 726, 733 (1998)).
- 477 U.S. 619, 623–24 (1986).
- Id. at 623–25. See also Amdt1.1.1 The Religion Clauses: Historical Background through Amdt184.108.40.206.1.2.12 Non-Financial Assistance to Religion: Miscellaneous (analyzing the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses).
- Id. at 625 n.1. However, the Court ultimately ruled that the district court should have abstained from deciding the case on other grounds. See id. at 625.
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