Standing (law)

In law, standing or locus standi is a condition that a party seeking a legal remedy must show they have, by demonstrating to the court, sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case. A party has standing in the following situations:

  • The party is directly subject to an adverse effect by the statute or action in question, and the harm suffered will continue unless the court grants relief in the form of damages or a finding that the law either does not apply to the party or that the law is void or can be nullified. In informal terms, a party must have something to lose.[1] The party has standing because they will be directly harmed by the conditions for which they are asking the court for relief.
  • The party is not directly harmed by the conditions by which they are petitioning the court for relief but asks for it because the harm involved has some reasonable relation to their situation, and the continued existence of the harm may affect others who might not be able to ask a court for relief. In the United States, this is the grounds for asking for a law to be struck down as violating the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, because while the plaintiff might not be directly affected, the law might so adversely affect others that one might never know what was not done or created by those who fear they would become subject to the law. This is known as the "chilling effects" doctrine.
  • The party is granted automatic standing by act of law.[2] For example, under some environmental laws in the United States, a party may sue someone causing pollution to certain waterways without a federal permit, even if the party suing is not harmed by the pollution being generated. The law allows the plaintiff to receive attorney's fees if they substantially prevail in the action. In some U.S. states, a person who believes a book, film or other work of art is obscene may sue in their own name to have the work banned directly without having to ask a District Attorney to do so.

In the United States, the current doctrine is that a person cannot bring a suit challenging the constitutionality of a law unless they can demonstrate that they are or will "imminently" be harmed by the law. Otherwise, the court will rule that the plaintiff "lacks standing" to bring the suit, and will dismiss the case without considering the merits of the claim of unconstitutionality.

  1. ^ Neubauer, David W.; Meinhold, Stephen S. (2017). Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States (7th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning. p. 412. ISBN 9781337025942.
  2. ^ Lee, Evan; Mason Ellis, Josephine (December 3, 2012). "The Standing Doctrine's Dirty Little Secret". Northwestern Law Review. 107: 169. SSRN 2027130.

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