List of United States Supreme Court cases involving standing

A number of United States Supreme Court opinions have been important for their development of the doctrine of legal standing in the context of federal law in the United States. Some of those opinions include:

Case Year Decided Holding Voting
Dred Scott v. Sandford 1857 Held that people of African ancestry (whether free or not) were not United States Citizens, and therefore lacked standing to sue. This ruling stood as precedent until the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 7-2
Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co. 1907 States, as quasi-sovereigns, have parens patriae standing to sue for environmental harms, in this case fumes from copper mining.[1] 9-0
Fairchild v. Hughes 1922 Held that a New York resident (whose state had women's suffrage) lacked any particularized standing to challenge alleged state-level of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This was a landmark case, prior to this, private citizens were permitted to litigate public rights. 9-0
Frothingham v. Mellon 1923 Held that the generalized injury of higher taxation overall was insufficient to give a taxpayer standing to challenge federal spending. Considered the genesis of the doctrine of standing.[2] 9-0
Poe v. Ullman 1961 Found a lack of standing to challenge a law banning contraceptives as it had never been enforced, and that the controversy was not yet ripe. The same law was successfully challenged four years later in Griswold v. Connecticut. 5-4
Baker v. Carr 1962 Held that voters have standing to litigate when their Constitutional Right to vote in the United States is infringed. 7-2
Epperson v. Arkansas 1968 In contrast to Poe, the court did recognize standing in a case for overturning an unenforced Arkansas state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution.[3] 9-0
Flast v. Cohen 1968 Clarified that Frothingham did not deny all taxpayer lawsuits, identified the Flast test, which gives standing to taxpayers challenging laws are based on the Congressional power to tax and spend, and if the challenged law can be shown to exceed any Constitutional limitations on that power.[4] 8-1
Sierra Club v. Morton 1972 Held that an environmental group, as a corporate entity, did not by itself have standing to challenge a development permit, but that such a group could sue on behalf of any of its members if those members had, themselves, a particularized interest.[5] 4-3
United States v. SCRAP 1973 Held that SCRAP, while alleging quite attenuated injuries to the local environment due to a proposed rail freight increase on recyclable materials, did, by showing that its members made use of those areas, assert a particularized harm, and enjoyed standing to sue under the principles enunciated in Sierra Club. 8-0
Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State 1982 Denied standing to Americans United, as the conditional gift of surplus federal property to the College arose from Article IV of the Constitution, and not the Tax and Spending Clause, and therefore failed the Flast Test. 5-4
DeFunis v. Odegaard 1974 Held that a student, who had challenged a school's racially discriminatory admissions standards, but who had been allowed to attend college while the case proceeded, lacked standing due to mootness. 5-4
Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman 1983 Held that an organization may sue in its own right if it has been directly injured, for example through a "drain on the organization's resources", and that so-called "testers", individuals who sought to determine if a company was in violation of the law, may have standing in their own right.[6] 9-0[7]
City of Los Angeles v. Lyons 1983 Held that a plaintiff had standing to sue for damages from being subjected to a chokehold that was allowed under Los Angeles Police Department policy, but did not have standing to sue for an injunction against the chokehold policy itself, clarifying that standing must be found for different forms of relief individually. 5-4
Allen v. Wright 1984 Held that a group of African-American parent plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge what they saw as a lack of enforcement of restrictions on certain private school tax exemptions by the Internal Revenue Service, as the plaintiff parents' children had never applied, and had no plans to apply to those schools. 5-3
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife 1992 Held that some environmental organizations lacked standing Endangered Species Act, and that a such a plaintiff must have suffered a tangible, particular harm. 7-2
Raines v. Byrd 1997 Individual Congressmembers lack the particularized interest required for standing for issues affecting the entire Congress, in this case the Line Item Veto Act of 1996. 7-2
DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno 2006 Held that state taxpayers do not have standing to challenge to state tax laws in federal court. 9-0
Massachusetts v. EPA 2007 States have standing to sue the EPA to enforce their views of federal law, in this case, the view that carbon dioxide was an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Cited Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co. as precedent. 5-4
Bond v. United States 2011 Held that plaintiff had standing to argue that a federal law enforcing the Chemical Weapons Convention in this instance intruded on state police powers. (On the merits, Bond's claim was later rejected.) 9-0


  1. ^ Jr, John D DeLeo (2008-03-08). Administrative Law. Cengage Learning. pp. 449–. ISBN 9781401858773. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  2. ^ Winter, Steven L. (1988). "The Metaphor of Standing and the Problem of Self-Governance". Stanford Law Review. 40 (6): 1371–1516. doi:10.2307/1228780. JSTOR 1228780.
  3. ^ Emanuel, Steven; Emanuel, Lazar (2008-10-14). Constitutional Law. Aspen Publishers Online. pp. 724–. ISBN 9780735570498. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  4. ^ Shultz, David (2005-01-01). The Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court. Infobase Publishing. pp. 167–. ISBN 9780816067398. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  5. ^ Yost, Nicholas C.; Institute, Environmental Law (2003-03-01). Nepa Deskbook. Environmental Law Institute. pp. 22–. ISBN 9781585760565. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  6. ^ Summary from the National Association of Realtors
  7. ^ "Havens Realty Corporation v. Coleman". Oyez. Retrieved March 5, 2017.