Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:
The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
Standing to challenge governmental action on statutory or other non-constitutional grounds has a constitutional content to the degree that Article III requires a
controversy, necessitating a litigant who has sustained or will sustain an injury so that he will be moved to present the issue
in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution.1 Liberalization of standing in the administrative law field has been notable.
old law required that in order to sue to contest the lawfulness of agency administrative action, one must have suffered a
legal wrong, that is,
the right invaded must be a legal right,2 requiring some resolution of the merits preliminarily. An injury-in-fact was insufficient. A
legal right could be established in one of two ways. It could be a common-law right, such that if the injury were administered by a private party, one could sue on it;3 or it could be a right created by the Constitution or a statute.4 The statutory right most relied on was the judicial review section of the Administrative Procedure Act, which provided that
[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof.5 Early decisions under this statute interpreted the language as adopting the
legal interest and
legal wrong standard then prevailing as constitutional requirements of standing, which generally had the effect of limiting the type of injury cognizable in federal court to economic ones.6
In 1970, however, the Court promulgated a two-pronged standing test: if the litigant (1) has suffered injury-in-fact and if he (2) shows that the interest he seeks to protect is arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statutory guarantee in question, he has standing.7 Of even greater importance was the expansion of the nature of the cognizable injury beyond economic injury to encompass
aesthetic, conservational, and recreational interests as well.8
Aesthetic and environmental well-being, like economic well-being, are important ingredients of the quality of life in our society, and the fact that particular environmental interests are shared by the many rather than the few does not make them less deserving of legal protection through the judicial process.9 Thus, plaintiffs who pleaded that they used the natural resources of the Washington area, that rail freight rates would deter the recycling of used goods, and that their use of natural resources would be disturbed by the adverse environmental impact caused by the nonuse of recyclable goods, had standing as
persons aggrieved to challenge the rates set. Neither the large numbers of persons allegedly injured nor the indirect and less perceptible harm to the environment was justification to deny standing. The Court granted that the plaintiffs might never be able to establish the
attenuated line of causation from rate setting to injury, but that was a matter for proof at trial, not for resolution on the pleadings.10
Much debate has occurred in recent years with respect to the validity of
citizen suit provisions in the environmental laws, especially in light of the Court's retrenchment in constitutional standing cases. The Court in insisting on injury in fact as well as causation and redressability has curbed access to citizen suits,11 but that Congress may expansively confer substantial degrees of standing through statutory creations of interests remains true.