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Standing The legally protectible stake or interest that an individual has in a dispute that entitles him to bring the controversy before the court to obtain judicial relief.

Standing, sometimes referred to as standing to sue, is the name of the federal law doctrine that focuses on whether a prospective plaintiff can show that some personal legal interest has been invaded by the defendant. It is not enough that a person is merely interested as a member of the general public in the resolution of the dispute. The person must have a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.

The standing doctrine is derived from the U.S. Constitution's Article III provision that federal courts have the power to hear "cases" arising under federal law and "controversies" involving certain types of parties. In the most fundamental application of the philosophy of judicial restraint, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this language to forbid the rendering of advisory opinions.

Once a federal court determines that a real case or controversy exists, it must then ascertain whether the parties to the litigation have standing. The Supreme Court has developed an elaborate body of principles defining the nature and scope of standing. Basically, a plaintiff must have suffered some direct or substantial injury or be likely to suffer such an injury if a particular wrong is not redressed. A defendant must be the party responsible for perpetrating the alleged legal wrong.

Most standing issues arise over the enforcement of an allegedly unconstitutional statute, ordinance, or policy. One may challenge a law or policy on constitutional grounds if he can show that enforcement of the law or implementation of the policy infringes on an individual constitutional right, such as Freedom of Speech. For example, in tinker v. des moines independent community school district, 393 U.S. 503, 89 S. Ct. 733, 21 L. Ed. 2d 731 (1969), high school officials in Des Moines, Iowa, had suspended students for wearing black armbands to school to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. There was no question that the parents of the students had standing to challenge the restrictions on the wearing of armbands. Mere ideological opposition to a particular government policy, such as the Vietnam War, however, is not sufficient grounds to challenge that policy in court.

A significant economic injury or burden is sufficient to provide standing to sue, but in most situations a taxpayer does not have standing to challenge policies or programs that she is forced to support. In Frothingham v. Mellon, 288 F. 252 (C.A.D.C. 1923), the Supreme Court denied a federal taxpayer the right to challenge a federal program that she claimed violated the Tenth Amendment, which reserves certain powers to the states. The Court said that a party must show some "direct injury as the result of the statute's enforcement, and not merely that he suffers in some indefinite way common with people generally."

Although the Supreme Court made a narrow exception to this prohibition on taxpayer suits in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 88 S. Ct. 1942, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947 (1968), granting standing to a taxpayer to challenge federal spending that would benefit parochial schools, the Court has never gone beyond that. In fact, there is some doubt as to the vitality of the Flast decision. In 1974 the Court denied standing to a taxpayer who sought to challenge Congress's exempting the Central Intelligence Agency from the constitutional requirement under Article I, Section 9, Clause 7, that government expenditures be publicly reported (United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166, 94 S. Ct. 2940, 41 L. Ed. 2d 678). Since Richardson the Court has continued to maintain the traditional barrier against taxpayer lawsuits.

The issue of standing has played a crucial role in Class Action lawsuits, especially those filed by environmental groups. In Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 92 S. Ct. 1361, 31 L. Ed. 2d 636 (1972), the Court denied standing to an environmental group that was challenging a decision by the secretary of the interior. The Court ruled that the Sierra Club had not demonstrated that its members would be substantially adversely affected by the secretary's decision. Later environmental class actions have overcome the standing hurdle by including specific harms that group members would suffer, thus avoiding the Court's rule against generalized concerns.

The issue of standing is more than a technical aspect of the judicial process. A grant or denial of standing determines who may challenge government policies and what types of policies may be challenged. Those who believe that the federal courts should not increase their power generally believe standing should be used to limit access to the courts by persons or groups seeking to change public policy. They believe the legislative branch should deal with these types of issues. Opponents of a strict standing test complain that plaintiffs never get a chance to prove their case in court. They believe that justice should not be denied by the application of judicially created doctrines such as standing.

standing n. the right to file a lawsuit or file a petition under the circumstances. Example: a trade association will have standing to file a petition for a writ of mandate to order a state government agency to enforce a regulation if the association represents businesses affected by the regulation, the individual businesses belonging to the association have an interest in the outcome, and it would be impractical for each business to file its own petition or for a court to deal with all of them. A plaintiff will have standing to sue in Federal court if a) there is an actual controversy, b) a Federal statute gives the Federal court jurisdiction, and, c) the parties are residents of different states or otherwise fit the Constitutional requirements for Federal court jurisdiction

actual controversy n. a true legal dispute which leads to a genuine lawsuit rather than merely a "cooked up" legal action filed to get a court to give the equivalent of an advisory opinion. Federal courts, including the U. S. Supreme Court, will only consider an "actual controversy" on appeal, since they will not give advisory (informal) opinions or make judgments on "friendly suits" filed to test the potential outcome.

Jurisdiction The geographic area over which authority extends; legal authority; the authority to hear and determine causes of action.

Jurisdiction generally describes any authority over a certain area or certain persons. In the law, jurisdiction sometimes refers to a particular geographic area containing a defined legal authority. For example, the federal government is a jurisdiction unto itself. Its power spans the entire United States. Each state is also a jurisdiction unto itself, with the power to pass its own laws. Smaller geographic areas, such as counties and cities, are separate jurisdictions to the extent that they have powers that are independent of the federal and state governments.

Jurisdiction also may refer to the origin of a court's authority. A court may be designated either as a court of general jurisdiction or as a court of special jurisdiction. A court of general jurisdiction is a trial court that is empowered to hear all cases that are not specifically reserved for courts of special jurisdiction. A court of special jurisdiction is empowered to hear only certain kinds of cases.

Judicial Review A court's authority to examine an executive or legislative act and to invalidate that act if it is contrary to constitutional principles.

The power of courts of law to review the actions of the executive and legislative branches is called judicial review. Though judicial review is usually associated with the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ultimate judicial authority, it is a power possessed by most federal and state courts of law in the United States. The concept is an American invention. Prior to the early 1800s, no country in the world gave its judicial branch such authority.

In the United States, the supremacy of national law is established by Article VI, Clause 2, of the U.S. Constitution. Called the Supremacy Clause, it states that "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme law of the land." It goes on to say that, "judges in every state shall be bound thereby." This means that state laws may not violate the U.S. constitution and that all state courts must uphold the national law. State courts uphold the national law through judicial review.

Through judicial review, state courts determine whether or not state executive acts or state statutes are valid. They base such rulings on the principle that a state law that violates the U.S. constitution is invalid. They also decide the constitutionality of state laws under state constitutions. If, however, state constitutions contradict the U.S. Constitution, or any other national statute, the state constitution must yield. The highest state court to decide such issues is the state supreme court.

While judicial review of state laws is clearly outlined in the supremacy clause, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution did not resolve the question of whether the federal courts should have this power over congressional and executive acts. During the early years of the Republic, the Supreme Court upheld congressional acts, which implied the power of judicial review. But the key question was whether the Court had the power to strike down an act of Congress.

In 1803, the issue was settled in marbury v. madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 2 L. Ed. 60, when the Supreme Court, for the first time, ruled an act of Congress unconstitutional. In Marbury, Chief Justice John Marshall reasoned that since it is the duty of a court in a lawsuit to declare the law, and since the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, where a rule of statutory law conflicts with a rule of the Constitution, then the law of the Constitution must prevail. Marshall asserted that it is "emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is."

Having established the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court applied it only once prior to the Civil War, in 1857, ruling the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional in dred scott v. sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 15 L. Ed. 691. During the same period, the Court invalidated several state laws that came in conflict with the Constitution. In m'culloch v. maryland, 17 U.S. 316, 4 L. Ed. 579 (1819), the Court invalidated a state's attempt to tax a branch of the Bank of the United States. In gibbons v. ogden, 22 U.S. 1, 6 L. Ed. 23 (1824), the Court struck down a New York law granting a Monopoly to a steamboat company, saying that the state law conflicted with a federal law granting a license to another company.

In addition to invalidating state laws, the Marshall Court established the authority to overrule decisions of the highest state courts. In martin v. hunter's lessee, 14 U.S. 304, 4 L. Ed. 97 (1816), the Court referred to the supremacy clause to assert that its appellate power extended to state courts.

Following the Civil War, the Supreme Court grew concerned that the recently-passed Fourteenth Amendment would give the federal government too much power over state governments and individual rights. Therefore, it used the power of judicial review to strike down federal Civil Rights laws that sought to address racial discrimination in the former Confederate states. Beginning in 1890, the Court became embroiled in political controversy when it exercised its power of judicial review to limit government regulation of business. In Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Railroad Co. v. Minnesota, 134 U.S. 418, 10 S. Ct. 462, 33 L. Ed. 970 (1890), the Court struck down a state law establishing a commission to set railroad rates. This case was the first of many where the Court applied the doctrine of Substantive Due Process to invalidate state and federal legislation that regulated business. Substantive due process was a vague concept that required legislation to be fair, reasonable, and just in its content.

Through the early 1900s, the Court came under attack from Populists and Progressives for its desire to insulate capitalism from government intervention. Unmoved by its critics, the Court proceeded to invalidate a federal Income Tax (pollock v. farmers' loan & trust co., 157 U.S. 429, 15 S. Ct. 673, 39 L. Ed. 759 [1895]), limit the scope of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U.S. 1, 15 S. Ct. 249, 39 L. Ed. 325 [1895]), and forbid states to regulate working hours (lochner v. new york, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S. Ct. 539, 49 L. Ed. 937 [1905]).

The Supreme Court's use of substantive due process brought charges of "judicial activism," which means that in determining whether laws would meet constitutional muster, the Court was accused of acting more as a legislative body than as a judicial body. Justice oliver wendell holmes jr., in his famous dissenting opinion in Lochner, argued for "judicial restraint," cautioning the Court that it was usurping the function of the legislature.

Despite Holmes's warning the Court continued to strike down laws dealing with economic regulation into the 1930s. In 1932, the United States, in the midst of the Great Depression, elected franklin d. roosevelt president. Roosevelt immediately began to implement his New Deal program, which was based on the federal government's aggressive regulation of the national economy. The Supreme Court used its power of judicial review to invalidate eight major pieces of New Deal legislation.

Roosevelt, angry at the conservative justices for blocking his reforms, proposed legislation that would add new appointees to the Court—appointees that would create a liberal majority. This "court-packing" plan aroused bipartisan opposition and ultimately failed. But the Court may have gotten Roosevelt's message, for in 1937, it made an abrupt turnabout: a majority of the Court abandoned the substantive due process doctrine and voted to uphold the Wagner Act, which guaranteed to industrial workers the right to unionize and bargain collectively (national labor relations board v. jones & laughlin steel corp., 301 U.S. 1, 57 S. Ct. 615, 81 L. Ed. 893 [1937]).

With this decision the Court ceased to interpret the Constitution as a barrier to social and economic legislation. The Court subsequently upheld congressional legislation that affected labor relations, agricultural production, and social Welfare. It also exercised judicial restraint with respect to state laws regulating economic activity.

Beginning in the 1950s, the Supreme Court exercised its judicial review power in cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. During the tenure of Chief Justice Earl Warren, from 1953 to 1969, the Court declared federal statutes unconstitutional in whole or in part in 25 cases, most of the decisions involving civil liberties. The Warren Court's decision in brown v. board of education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954), however, invalidated state laws that mandated racially segregated public schools.

The Supreme Court became increasingly conservative in the 1970s. Yet, in 1973, under Chief Justice warren e. burger, it invalidated state laws prohibiting Abortion in roe v. wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147. Since the elevation of william h. rehnquist to chief justice in 1986, the Court has continued its movement to the right, although it has not retreated from most of the protections it recognized under Warren in the realm of civil rights and civil liberties.

The exercise of judicial review is subject to important rules of judicial self-restraint, which restrict the Supreme Court, and state courts as well, from extending its power. The Supreme Court will hear only cases or controversies, actual live disputes between adversary parties who are asserting valuable legal rights. This means the Court cannot issue advisory opinions on legislation. In addition, a party bringing suit must have standing (a direct stake in the outcome) in order to challenge a statute.

The most important rule of judicial restraint is that statutes are presumptively valid, which means that judges assume legislators did not intend to violate the Constitution. It follows that the Burden of Proof is on the party that raises the issue of unconstitutionality. In addition, if a court can construe a disputed statute in a manner that allows it to remain intact without tampering with the meaning of the words or if a court can decide a case on nonconstitutional grounds, these courses are to be preferred. Finally, a court will not sit in judgment of the motives or wisdom of legislators, nor will it hold a statute invalid merely because it is deemed to be unwise or undemocratic.



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