Standing is the legal right to initiate a lawsuit. To do so, a person must be sufficiently affected by the matter at hand, and there must be a case or controversy that can be resolved by legal action.

Requirements for Standing Based on Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

According to Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 2136 (1992) (Lujan), there are three requirements for Article III standing:

  1. Injury in fact, which means an invasion of a legally protected interest that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.
  2. A causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct, which means that the injury can be traced to the challenged action of the defendant and has not resulted from the independent action of some third party not before the court.
  3. A likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision, which means the prospect of obtaining relief from the injury as a result of a favorable ruling is not too speculative.

The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing each of these elements.

Requirements for Standing Based on Warth v. Seldin

In deciding whether a person has standing, a court must consider the allegations of fact contained in this person's declaration and other affidavits in support of his assertion of standing, according to Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1974) (Warth).

This case also notes that when addressing motion to dismiss for lack of standing, both district court and court of appeals must accept as true all material allegations of the complaint and must construe the complaint in favor of the party claiming standing.

Standing is founded "in concern about the proper — and properly limited — role of the courts in a democratic society." Warth, 422 U.S. at 498.

Other Requirements for Standing

When an individual seeks to avail himself of the federal courts to determine the validity of a legislative action, he must show that he "is immediately in danger of sustaining a direct injury." Ex parte Levitt, 302 U.S. 633, 634 (1937). This requirement is necessary to ensure that "federal courts reserve their judicial power for 'concrete legal issues, presented in actual cases, not abstractions.'" Associated General Contractors of California v. Coalition for Economic Equity, 950 F.2d 1401, 1406 (9th Cir. 1991) (quoting United Public Workers, 330 U.S. at 89), cert. denied, 112 S. Ct. 1670 (1992). National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. S 4331, et seq.

Someone who seeks injunctive or declaratory relief "must show a very significant possibility of future harm in order to have standing to bring suit." Nelsen v. King County, 895 F.2d 1248, 1250 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 112 S. Ct. 875 (1992).