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Standing Case Heard at the Supreme Court

I wonder if this case might have some bearing on gun rights.  Dave Hardy is reporting on it:

Summers v. Earth Island Institute. A quick read suggests it’s no change in direction. (1) Plaintiff must challenge a specific decision, not a general policy or manner of decisionmaking; (2) Plaintiff (or its members) must show some risk of concrete risk of injury — “I visit Forests and this sometimes happens on Forests and so I might see it” is not enough.

It’s a 5-4, and a major factor in the split is that the dissent argues that a large organization should be able to argue that, given the size of its membership and the activities of its members, it’s likely in general that some of them will encounter results of the policy being litigated, even if the group’s attorneys cannot come up with specific member names and affidavits. (In this case, the challenge was to Forest Service sales of timber on small parcels, but thousands of them, and one of the plaintiff organizations had 700,000 members).

Isn’t this the basis of the Brady Campaign’s lawsuit against the Department of the Interior?   Can we get this dismissed on standing in light of this ruling?  How is what Dave Hardy described above with “I visit Forests and this sometimes happens on Forests and so I might see it” different than this:

Suzanne Verge, a member of the Brady Campaign […] regularly uses, visits, and enjoy national park areas, including Yosemite National Park […].  Defendants failure to comply with the Organic Act, NEPA and the APA directly harms Ms. Verge by reducing the safety and enjoyment of national park areas she visits and by increasing the risk of wildlife poaching.

Perhaps they get around this by singling out a specific member and claiming direct harm.  I’ll be honest, Sanding seems like more a hodgepodge for judges to get rid of unpleasant matters before them than a readily understandable and coherent doctrine limiting the judicial power.

One Response to “Standing Case Heard at the Supreme Court”

  1. BC says:

    I’ll be honest, Sanding seems like more a hodgepodge for judges to get rid of unpleasant matters before them than a readily understandable and coherent doctrine limiting the judicial power.

    Your intuition of the standing doctrine isn’t incorrect. In theory it, like other doctrines that fall under the justicability rubric, is about the separation of powers, and keeping federal courts from weighing in on matters that don’t constitute real, honest-to-goodness “cases or controversies” (and are thus outside their Article III charter).

    As a very practical matter, though, the application of justicability rules tends to be very outcome-oriented: if a court doesn’t want to get tangled up deciding the merits of a particular case, it’ll apply justicability rules very strictly, while if it wants to reach the merits of a case, it’ll apply those rules more loosely.

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