Standing

Overview

Standing, or locus standi, is capacity of a party to bring suit in court.

 

Standing in State Court

A state's statutes will determine what constitutes standing in that particular state's courts. These typically revolve around the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable.

Standing in Federal Court

At the federal level, legal actions cannot be brought simply on the ground that an individual or group is displeased with a government action or law. Federal courts only have constitutional authority to resolve actual disputes (see Case or Controversy). 

In Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (90-1424), 504 U.S. 555 (1992), the Supreme Court created a three-part test to determine whether a party has standing to sue:

  1. The plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact," meaning that the injury is of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent
  2. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct brought before the court
  3. It must be likely, rather than speculative, that a favorable decision by the court will redress the injury

Further Reading

For Supreme Court decisions focusing on the "standing" issue, see, e.g., County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991), Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656 (1993) and Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992).