CRF Blog

Standing

by Bill Hayes

If you think something violates the Constitution, can you sue or otherwise challenge it in court? The answer to this question is that you can only if you have standing. What on earth is “standing,” you ask? Fortunately, Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional scholar and the dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, recently wrote a Los Angeles Times article on standing: Who has standing to appeal Prop. 8 ruling? The article gives a clear explanation of standing. An excerpt:

Article III of the U.S. Constitution restricts federal courts to deciding “cases” and “controversies.” The Supreme Court long has held that in order to meet this requirement, a person or group pursuing legal action must have standing, a status conferred only on those who have suffered a direct, concrete injury. An ideological objection to a government action, no matter how strongly felt, is insufficient for standing.

For example, almost 30 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that a person who had been subjected to a chokehold by Los Angeles police officers lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of that procedure because he could not show that he personally would be likely to be choked again.

The article gives several other examples and further explanation. Worth the read.