I. The Separation of Federal Powers: Limits on the Federal Judicial Power
A. Justiciability Limits: The two types of justicibility limits are (1) constitutional (cases and controversies based on Article III), and (2) prudential (prudent judicial administration).
The following five justiciability doctrines determine which matters the federal courts can hear and decide:
1. Prohibition of Advisory Opinions
2. Standing [who can bring the suit] 3. Ripeness [when the suit can be brought] 4. Mootness [when the suit can be brought] 5. Political Question Doctrine [substance of the suit]
1. Prohibition of Advisory Opinions
a. Advisory opinions are opinions that give advice about particular legislative or executive action when no party before the court has suffered specific injury. Federal courts are prevented from issuing opinions on abstract or hypothetical questions.
b. Cases that are to be tried in federal court must meet the following requirements:
1. There must be actual dispute between adverse litigants
2. There must be a substantial likelihood that the court’s decision will bring about some change or have some effect.
c. The following are reasons why advisory opinions are prohibited:
1. Advisory opinions can blur the lines between the court and legislature, and
2. The judicial role is limited to actual disputes, not giving advice to Congress or the President.
d. Example: President Obama cannot write the Supreme Court and ask if requiring every person to purchase Health Insurance is unconstitutional.
1. The Supreme Court is here for the last resort.
e. Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc. (1995)
1. Facts: After Congress amended the Securities Exchange Act, changing the limitations periods established by case precedent and mandating reinstatement of cases dismissed as time barred, the district court denied Π motion to reinstate the final judgment on his case on the ground that the amendment was unconstitutional.
2. Rule of Law: Congress may not retroactively command the federal courts to reopen final judgments without violating the separation of powers doctrine.
3. Application: We’re here to decide actual disputes, where our decision will give effect. If all cases could be reopen, no decision would ever be final.
f. Declaratory judgments are when the court is requested to state what the legal effect would be of proposed conduct by one or both parties. Declaratory judgments must be concrete questions or controversies; thus, they are justiciable.
2. Standing [WHO]
a. Defined: Standing is the determination of whether a specific person is the proper party to bring a matter to the court for adjudication. There are two types of standing: (1) constitutional, and (2) prudential.
b. Elements: The following three elements are constitutional requirements for standing:
a. Plaintiff must allege that he has suffered an injury
b. The injury must be actual or imminent; not conjectural or hypothetical
c. Procedural injuries do not exist (i.e. the government violating a procedure)
a. Determine if the defendant caused the injury
b. The injury has to be fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant and not the result of the independent action of a 3rd party not b/f the court
a. Asks whether or not the court can provide a remedy
1. Allen v. Wright (1984)
1. Facts: Π Parents of black school children filed an action to compel the Δ IRS to deny tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory private schools, in conformity with the law.
2. Rule of Law: One does not have standing to sue in federal court unless he can allege the violation of a right personal to him.
1. The Π weren’t hurt by the IRS not following the law, but Π wanted to invoke the power of the court, since the IRS was breaking the law.
2. Π don’t like what the IRS is doing. But there is nothing the IRS is specifically doing to the Π
3. Π’s seem to be bringing this suit for the entire race, a stigmatic injury, but an African-American in HI can’t sue a school in ME because some African-American child was injured in an ME school
2. Massachusetts v. EPA (2007)
1. Facts: A state and several other parties challenged the EPA’s failure to enforce the Clean Air Act against motor-vehicle emissions.
2. Rule of Law: A Π has standing if it demonstrates a concrete injury that is both fairly traceable (causation) to the Δ and redressable by judicial relief.
3. Application: Injury to MA is far too speculative. MA is scared they will lose the shoreline due to greenhouse gas emissions. However, it can’t be fairly traceable to the EPA when, and more importantly if, the MA shoreline is lost. Secondly, there is no judicial relief available that would “bring back the coast.”
3. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992) – Plaintiffs claimed a right to sue the secretary of
the interior. The court ruled that the plaintiffs did not standing, and the injury can’t just be a special interest. There was no direct injury here and the citizen suit provision didn’t allow the suit because general claims and general results are not allowed. Also, there was no imminent injury; thus, redressability would not be available.
d. The injury requirement
1. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons (1983) – Plaintiff challenged the use of choke hold but did not have standing because he did not successfully show a real and immediate threat that he’d be stopped and given an illegal choke hold again (wanted damages and an injunction to stop the practice of the choke hold).
2. United States v. Hays (1995) – A challenge of districting as racially discriminating didn’t have standing because the plaintiff did not live within the district. Thus, the challenge was just a generalized grievance, and not a direct injury.
3. Federal Election Commission v. Akins (1998) – The Court ruled that Congress could create a right to information, and that denial of that right was an injury sufficient for standing (injury was the inability to obtain information).
e. The causation and redressability requirements
1. Linda R. S. v. Richard D. (1973) – No standing for mother who wanted illegitimate father prosecuted for failure to pay child support. The court ruled that it wasn’t certain that the prosecution wouldn’t cause him to pay the support; thus, it’s not redressable.
1. Justice Marshall: If appellant were granted the requested relief, it would result only in the jailing of the child’s father. The prospect that prosecution, at least in the future, will result in payment of support can, at best, be termed only speculative.
2. Warth v. Seldin (1975) – No standing for people wishing for exclusion of zoning rules since they wouldn’t be able to live in the area at issue anyway. Also, redressability wouldn’t occur because it’s too specific of a claim.
3. Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization (1976) – Plaintiffs that weren’t allowed medical service by tax exempt hospitals challenged the revision of the revenue ruling. The court ruled that they did not have standing because the ruling wasn’t responsible for the denial of care. There was no causation.
4. Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc. (1978) – Court determined that the plaintiffs had standing to challenge Congress’ Price-Anderson Act that limited the liability of utility company to encourage nuclear reactor building. The court determined that but for the nuclear reactors, the cause of action would not be present. Most likely, the Court wanted to hold the act constitutional, so they allowed standing.
f. Prudential Limits
1. Defined: The requirements for prudential standing are different from constitutional requirements of standing because congress, by statute, can overrule prudential standing requirements because these requirements are not derived from the constitution. In addition to showing injury, causation, and redressability, the following two elements are requirements for prudential standing:
2. Prudential Limits
1. Prohibition of third-party standing [jus tersi] a. Defined: A plaintiff can assert only injuries that he has suffered and cannot present the claims of third parties who are not part of the lawsuit.
b. Exception: There are two exceptions to the prohibition of third-party standing:
1. If the third party is the closest party to the relationship then suit can be brought on that party’s behalf, and
a. Close Relationship
2. Bartender-bar patron
2. There must be a genuine obstacle that doe
mine ripeness, look to the following: (1) the incurred hardship, and (2) the fitness of issues for judicial decision (Is it a factual or legal issue? Is it a facial challenge or “as applied” to plaintiff?).
1. Poe v. Ullman (1961)
a. Facts: Π sought medical advice on the use of contraceptives but could not receive it because of CT statutes prohibiting the use of and dispensation of medical advice about contraceptives. Π challenged the statutes’ constitutionality under the 14th Amendment.
b. Rule of Law: Criminal statutes that are not enforced are not ripe for constitutional adjudication.
c. Application: This is a very old law that law enforcement does not enforce.
2. Abbot Laboratories v. Gardner (1967)
a. Facts: Π drug manufacturer claimed that a federal agency that issued drug-labeling regulations, effective in the future, exceeded its authority.
b. Rule of Law: A pre-enforcement review of challenged regulations is ripe for judicial determination where the issue involved is a purely legal one and the impact of the regulation on the challenger is direct and immediate.
1. The Court determined the criteria for ripeness(
1. The issues presented are appropriate for judicial decision, and 2. The parties would face hardship if the Court declined to hear the case.
3. The issue was ripe here because it’s a legal issue and the impact of the regulations challenged would be direct and immediate.
a. New FDA regulations made drug manufacturers completely change their labels ($$$$$). Yet, if the drug manufacturers had to wait to bring this claim AFTER they changed the label and won, they would have to change their labels back to the old ones ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$)
3. United Public Workers v. Mitchell (1947) – The Court ruled the controversy was not ripe. The issue was the hypothetical threat of hatch act that didn’t allow federal employees to take part in political management of campaigns.
4. International Longshoremen’s Union v. Boyd (1954) – The court determined there was no ripe claim for a declaratory judgment. The issue involved resident aliens working in Alaska wanting to know if they had a right to come back to the U.S. after they completed their jobs. The Court found that the situation was “hypothetical” and concluded that determination of the scope and constitutionality of legislation in advance of its immediate adverse effects in the context of a concrete case involves too remote and abstract in inquiry for the proper exercise of the judicial function.
5. Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases (1974) – The case was a ripe challenge to a property conveyance to Conrail because the people’s property would inevitably be conveyed. Where the inevitability of the operation of a statute against certain individuals is patent, it is irrelevant to the existence of a justiciable controversy that there will be a time delay before the disputed provision will come into effect.
6. Lake Carriers v. Macmullan (1972) – This involved a ripe challenge to a state law that banned discharge of sewage from boats. The law was ripe because the law would be enforced and boat owners would have to install new facilities.
a. Defined: A case is moot if it raised a justiciable controversy at the time the complaint was filed, but events occurring after the filing have deprived the litigant of an ongoing stake in the controversy.
b. Rule: Π must present a live controversy at all stages of federal court litigation. If anything occurs while a lawsuit is pending to end the Π’s injury, the case is to be dismissed as moot.