Standing and the Justiciability Doctrine

The Justiciability Doctrine is a concept that students must fully understand in order to analyze issues in Constitutional law classes. The purpose of the Justiciability Doctrine is to encourage the separation of powers in our branches of government. The main question under the Justiciability Doctrine is: “What can the federal court hear?” and the answer to this question is not explicitly stated in the Constitution but has been created by the courts.

Article III, Section 2 states that “the judicial Power shall extend to all Cases…[and] to controversies.” The Supreme Court has inferred from this that a federal court will only hear “a case or controversy.” Although this inference may be relatively obvious, it does help accomplish the goal of the separation of powers. For example, the federal court will not do things such as give an advisory opinion to a branch of government because it would not arise out of a case or controversy.

The question of standing is: “Who can take a case to court?” To answer this question, the plaintiff must meet three requirements:

1. An injury in fact

  • The plaintiff has suffered or will immediately suffer an injury. In other words, a plaintiff cannot bring a suit because he fears that sometime in the future he may suffer an injury.

2. Causation

  • The injury alleged is connected to the defendant’s conduct.

3. Redressability

  • That the federal court in which the suit is brought is the likely court to redress the injury. This includes a showing that the federal court has proper jurisdiction for the suit.