standing


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to standing: standing committee

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.

Cross-references

Judicial Review.

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. (See: actual controversy, jurisdiction)

standing

adjective constant, continued, continuing, conventional, enduring, established, fixed, lasting, perpetual, perpetuated, settled, stationary, still, unceasing, unchanging
Associated concepts: standing committee
See also: caliber, case, character, class, condition, credit, degree, eminence, extant, grade, honor, lasting, posture, prestige, quality, recognition, reputation, situation, stagnant, state, static, status
References in classic literature ?
I have a standing order for such things from one of the museums I represent.
While this passed, Hester Prynne had been standing on her pedestal, still with a fixed gaze towards the stranger -- so fixed a gaze that, at moments of intense absorption, all other objects in the visible world seemed to vanish, leaving only him and her.
Here, tossed about by the sea, the beginner feels about as cosy as he would standing on a bull's horns.
How dost thou know that some entire, living, thinking thing may not be invisibly and uninterpenetratingly standing precisely where thou now standest; aye, and standing there in thy spite?
We had very good fun in the free meadows, galloping up and down and chasing each other round and round the field; then standing still under the shade of the trees.
It seemed as if he could not take his eyes from thin straight Colin standing on his feet with his head thrown back.
Immediate in a flame, But soon obscur'd with smoak, all Heav'n appeerd, From those deep-throated Engins belcht, whose roar Emboweld with outragious noise the Air, And all her entrails tore, disgorging foule Thir devillish glut, chaind Thunderbolts and Hail Of Iron Globes, which on the Victor Host Level'd, with such impetuous furie smote, That whom they hit, none on thir feet might stand, Though standing else as Rocks, but down they fell By thousands, Angel on Arch-Angel rowl'd; The sooner for thir Arms, unarm'd they might Have easily as Spirits evaded swift By quick contraction or remove; but now Foule dissipation follow'd and forc't rout; Nor serv'd it to relax thir serried files.
I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe he was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out of the hole again.
An old piano, standing beneath a barometer, was covered with a pyramid of old books and boxes.
Down she went to strong Ilius from the crests of Ida, and found Hector son of Priam standing by his chariot and horses.
Smooth-it-away pointed to a large, antique edifice, which, he observed, was a tavern of long standing, and had formerly been a noted stopping-place for pilgrims.
These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge.

Full browser ?