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Justiciability refers to the types of matters that a court can adjudicate. If a case is "non-justiciable," then the court cannot hear it. Justiciability rulings usually arise either when a court does not have power to hear the case under the Constitution or it is imprudent to exercise judicial power. Specifically, the court must not be offering an advisory opinion, the plaintiff must have standing, the parties must not be feigned or collusive, and the issues must be ripe but neither moot nor violative of the political question doctrine. Typically, these issues are all up to the discretion of the court which is adjudicating the issue. 

Advisory Opinion

An advisory opinion is a court's nonbinding interpretation of a legal question

Under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, a federal court may only adjudicate an actual controversy. This is referred to as the Case and Controversy Clause.  

Some state courts are allowed to issue advisory opinions under limited circumstances, however these circumstances are typically enumerated within that state's constitution. 

Feigned and Collusive Cases

The case must have two genuinely adverse parties because a court’s function is to resolve disputes. The parties cannot be fictitious or collusive.


Standing refers to the capacity of a plaintiff to bring suit in court. Typically, the plaintiff must have suffered an actual harm by the defendant, and the harm must be redressable.  


A claim is ripe when the facts of the case have matured into an actual controversy. A case is not ripe if the harm to the plaintiff has not yet occurred. 


A claim is moot if the relevant issues have already been resolved. 

Political Question Doctrine

Under the political question doctrine, a court will refuse to hear a case if the relevant issues are politically charged. 

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]