Supreme Court Review

Article Title

Tiers of Standing


Owen FissFollow


The Supreme Court is charged with protecting the Constitution, but it is not a roving commission. It must wait for a case to arrive at its doorstep before determining whether the Constitution has been violated. Someone must claim that a policy or practice is unconstitutional and, in addition, show that he or she has been, or is likely to be, injured by it. Without this showing of injury, the Court will dismiss the suit on the theory that the party who initiated the suit or the plaintiff lacked “standing,” without ever addressing the merits of the claim advanced. The standing requirement has, for generations, been a steadfast feature of our constitutional tradition. Doctrinally, it has been understood as an extrapolation of Article III of the Constitution, which limits the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary to “cases” or “controversies.” In turn, the Court has read these terms to extend solely to those disputes in which the plaintiff is actually injured.

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