The Justiciability Doctrines
|Case or Controversy|
Three basic requirements must be met so that the judiciary may hear
a case and issue an opinion that would not be advisory. First, the case
needs to present an actual dispute, not a hypothetical legal question.
By requiring an actual dispute, the judiciary is ensuring that any decision
issued in the case is the final one because it was based upon concrete
facts and not upon some fanciful situation which may not have presented
a complete picture of the controversy. The second requirement is that the
dispute is between adverse litigants. Adversariness
is required to ensure that the case brought before the courts truly involves
a controversy that is in need of a resolution; if the opponents are not
true adversaries, then any issued opinion would be advisory. The last requirement
is that if a decision is issued in favor of the claimant, there is a substantial
likelihood that it would have some effect. In any situation where the opposing
party could ignore the ruling, then the opinion lacks finality
and is in effect advisory. Declaratory judgments are justiciable as long
as they present a real controversy. Declaratory judgments
that meet these criteria are themselves justiciable. Aetna Life Insurance
Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227 (1937).
|Mootness and Ripeness|
Cases are declared not ripe because the injuries are either too speculative
or they may never occur. The rationale behind the ripeness doctrine is
that a court should not issue premature judgements based on abstract disagreements.
Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 u.s. 136 (1967). Ripeness typically
arises when preenforcement review of a statute is sought, at which point
to considerations are examined, and both must be present in order for an
issue to be ripe. First, the plaintiff must show that a hardship is likely
to be suffered in the absence of a judgement. This hardship could be caused
by the law as it will eventually be applied, by collateral injuries, or
because compliance with the law causes the hardship, and the only other
choice is to break the law with the resulting consequences of being prosecuted.
The second consideration is whether the issues are fit for a judicial decision.
An issue that specific facts would assist in the judicail consideration
will be found not ripe, while an issue is ripe when it is mostly a question
of law, one which does not depend on context.
Four requirements must be met before a party will be granted standing in the federal judiciary, all of which must be met. The first three requirements are based upon Article III as Constitutional barriers to standing, and the last is an exercise of judicial restraint which may be overridden by Congressional statute.
The first requirement is that the parties must be adversaries. This is shown through the plaintiff having suffered or imminently likely to suffer a distinct and palpable injury. A mere interest in the problem is insufficient to establish standing. Therefore, the complaint must specifically allege that the plaintiff has suffered or is likely to suffer a distinct injury. The injury may even be one of aesthetic concerns, so long as it is personally suffered and is legally cognizable. U.S. v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669 (1973). Additionally, a plaintiff seeking declaratory or injunctive relief must show a likelihood of injury in the future. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95 (1983). Injuries which are sufficient to satisfy this requirement have generally been found to be any injury based on the common law and injuries based on a violation of the Constitution. Congress may create adversariness through statute, but it cannot create standing so that the public in general satisfies the statutory requirement. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 112 S. Ct. 2130 (1992). Along this same line of reasoning, the Court will not permit an individual to sue the government on the basis of being a taxpayer or forcing the government to comply with the law.
The second and third requirements are that the named defendant(s) be the causation of the injuries and that the injury is redressable through the court. The Supreme Court has declared that these are separate inquiries, but they are very often examined at the same time. The plaintiff must show that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant through a causal nexus linking the action of the defendant with the injury. The link must usually be a direct one, without the intervention of a third party. Where there is the intervention of a third party, the court may find that there was no causation, or that the injury is not redressable. In examining redressability, the court looks to the remedies sought in the pleadings and examines those for the likely affect they would have on the injury. When the injury depends on the actions of a third party, a court order will not affect that party, and the injury cannot be redressed. However, an injury caused by the defendant can be directly compensated for by the court.
See below for a detailed description of the judicial
restraint requirement the courts use to find an issue non-justiciable.
The prudential restraint rules focus on whether the plaintiff's own
rights are being asserted, or whether someone else's rights are being asserted.
There is no general third party standing, except in cases of the 1st Amendment
and where a special relationship exists between the injured party and the
party asserting the right. The special relationships which are permitted
to exert third party standing are very limited. A close relationship is
required between the third party and the right being asserted, such as
an association which is closely tied to the claimed right or a party which
has a zone of interest encompassing the right. Congress may also change
any of these rules since they are not based within the Constitution.
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