I’ve been listening to NPR, and when they talk about Supreme Court cases, they talk about someone standing around, and how much that matters to all them old folks on the Court. Then they complain that folks lack standing (I guess they never heard of those tall desks like old Tom Jefferson used.) Now, I can understand a bunch of senior citizens being concerned about people standing, but why does it matter to the rest of us, and why don’t they just get more chairs in the courtroom?
NO! NO! NO! It’s not a lack of chairs, it’s a lack of standing. Let me explain…
Under the Constitution, Article III (stay with me here) our courts are only allowed to decide “cases and controversies”. That’s a way of saying that you’re not allowed to ask a court a hypothetical question, like, “If I were to shoot an arrow into the air and it came down I know not where, but, like, onto the top of my good-for-nothing son-in-law’s thick skull, would I be found guilty, or be given a medal for thinning out the gene pool?”
Courts can’t answer such questions. The Founding Fathers wanted to be sure that judges would not have to work very hard, so they made sure that only REAL cases can come before the courts. Since judges can’t just come right out and tell folks to get out of their courtrooms, they invented this concept called “standing.”
For you to have standing, the outcome of the case must affect some right or interest of yours. You literally can’t just be a bystander. When the Supreme Court really, really does not want to answer a question, it can determine that one of the parties to the case actually never had a right to bring the case to the courts in the first place. So, let’s say that you see that Monster Corporation has just been granted a patent on a product that you want to make, right after you convince your brother-in-law to invest $1 million in your company. You can’t sue Monster to invalidate the patent because they have not threatened to sue you. Monster can’t sue you, because you have not “made, used, sold or imported” the patented product — you’ve only thought about it. See? Nobody has standing, and the courts will politely throw you out in the street if you try to bring a lawsuit. Got it?
Good! Now why are you just standing/sitting around reading this? Listen to your Mother…go outside and play in the fresh air!
Ok, let’s hear your comments about why this image is funny….
— Lawrence A. Husick, Esq.