This Court's jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's claims is limited by
Article III of the United States Constitution, which requires federal
courts to consider only actual "cases" and "controversies." U.S. Const.
art. III. An integral piece of this "bedrock requirement," is that a
litigant have standing to raise the claims she seeks to have adjudicated
by the Court. Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Am. United for Separation
of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 474, 102 S.Ct. 752, 758
(1982). "The term `standing' subsumes a blend of constitutional
requirements and prudential considerations," which the Court must address
before evaluating the merits of plaintiffs' claims. Id. "The rules of
standing, whether as aspects of the art. III case-or-controversy
requirement or as reflections of prudential considerations defining and
limiting the role of the courts, are threshold determinants of the
propriety of judicial intervention." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490,
517-18, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2215 (1975).
An individual has constitutional standing if (1) she has suffered the
"invasion of a legally protected interest which is . . . concrete and
particularized," and actual or imminent; (2) her injury is "fairly
traceable" to the challenged action of the defendant and not the result
of independent action by a third party not before the court; and (3) a
favorable decision would "likely" redress the injury. Lujan v. Defenders
of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2136 (1992).
Courts have developed "prudential standing" rules, which act as
self-imposed limits on the jurisdiction of Article III courts. The
Supreme Court has articulated a "set of prudential principles that bear
on the question of standing." Valley Forge Christian Coll., 454 U.S. at
474. These include: (1) the principle that "`plaintiff generally must
assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to
relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties,'" id. (citing
Warth, 422 U.S. at 499); (2) an avoidance of "`abstract questions of wide
public significance' which amount to `generalized grievances,' pervasively
shared and most appropriately addressed in the representative branches,"
id. at 475 (citing Warth, 422 U.S. at 499-500); and (3) a requirement
"that the plaintiff's complaint fall within `the zone of interests to be
protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in
question,'" id. (citing Assoc. of Data Processing Serv. Orgs. v. Camp,
397 U.S. 150, 153, 90 S.Ct. 827, 830 (1970)).
Precedent of long-standing recognizes a "rule of self-restraint"
barring litigants from claiming standing "to vindicate the constitutional
rights of some third party." Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249, 255, 73
S.Ct. 1031, 1034 (1953). A party "generally must assert his own legal
rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal
rights or interests of third parties." Warth, 422 U.S. at 499. This is
true even where a plaintiff has alleged injury sufficient to meet the
"case or controversy" requirement of Article III. Duke Power Co. v.
Caroline Env. Study Group, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 80, 98 S.Ct. 2620, 2643
(1978). That a party may indirectly benefit from asserting the rights of
a third party will not suffice to confer standing. See Warth, 422 U.S. at
514 (finding no standing where plaintiffs were harmed indirectly by
alleged violation of others constitutional rights).
The rationale for this rule, as consistently articulated by the Supreme
that courts should avoid adjudicating the rights of parties not
before them, rights which the parties "may not wish to assert." Duke
Power, 438 U.S. at 80. The prudential rule provides courts with "the
assurance that the most effective advocate of the rights at issue is
present to champion them." Id. The rule also "`frees the Court not only
from unnecessary pronouncement on constitutional issues, but also from
premature interpretations of statutes in areas where their constitutional
application might be cloudy,' . . . and it assures the court that the
issues before it will be concrete and sharply presented." Sec'y of State
of Maryland, 467 U.S. 947, 956 n. 5, 104 S.Ct. 2839 (1984) (quoting
United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 22, 80 S.Ct. 519 (1960).
The third party standing rule aids the Court in guaranteeing that
plaintiffs meet Article III's requirement of a particularized injury. "The
prudential limitations add to the constitutional minima a healthy concern
that if the claim is brought by someone other than one at whom the
constitutional protection is aimed, the claim not be an abstract,
generalized grievance that the courts are neither well equipped nor well
advised to adjudicate." Sec'y of State of Maryland, 467 U.S. at 955 n.
The Supreme Court has, however, recognized some circumstances, in which
the prohibition on asserting third parties' legal interests may be
relaxed or disregarded altogether. In Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 111
S.Ct. 1364 (1991), the Supreme Court articulated "three interrelated
criteria" for permitting third-party standing: "`The litigant must have
suffered an injury in fact, thus giving him or her a sufficiently
concrete interest in the outcome of the issue in dispute; the litigant
must have a close relation to the third party; and there must exist some
hindrance to the third party's ability to protect his or her own
interests.'" Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420, 447, 118 S.Ct. 1428 (1998)
(O'Connor, J., concurring) (quoting Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. at 411).
This third criteria finds its roots in the decision of Singleton v.
Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 96 S.Ct. 2868 (1976), where the Court noted that:
"If there is some genuine obstacle . . . the third party's absence from
court loses its tendency to suggest that his right is not truly at
stake, or truly important to him, and the party who is in court becomes
by default the right's best available proponent." Singleton v. Wulff, 428
U.S. at 116, 96 S.Ct. at 2875. Thus, the Court has permitted third party
standing of litigants against whom a challenged restriction was
enforced, where the enforcement also resulted in a violation of a third
parties' rights. See Haitian Refugee Ctr. v. Gracey, 809 F.2d 794 (D.C.
Cir. 1987) (citing Warth, 422 U.S. at 510); see also Singleton, 428 U.S.
at 113 (doctors who receive payments for their abortion services are
"classically adverse" to government as payer); Sullivan v. Little Hunting
Park, 396 U.S. 229, 237, 90 S.Ct. 400, 404 (1969); Barrows v. Jackson,
346 U.S. at 255-256.
For several years, the Supreme Court failed to elaborate on the "zone
of interests" test. In recent years, however, it has provided further
guidance. In the cases of Clarke v. Securities Indus. Ass'n, 479 U.S. 388,
107 S.Ct. 750 (1987), and Nat'l Credit Union Admin. v. First National
Bank & Trust Co., 522 U.S. 479, 118 S.Ct. 927 (1988) ("NCUA"), the
Supreme Court interpreted the "zone of interests" test fairly broadly.
Under Clarke, a plaintiff satisfies
the prudential standing requirement
if she was herself the subject of the contested administrative act, or if
she shows that her rights are not so marginally related to the purpose of
the statute that a court will assume Congress did not intend the suit:
The "zone of interests" test is a guide for deciding
whether, in view of Congress' evident intent to make
agency action reviewable, a particular plaintiff should
be heard to complain of a particular agency decision. In
cases where the plaintiff is not itself the subject of
the contested regulatory action, the test denies a
right of review if the plaintiff's interests are so
marginally related to or inconsistent with the purposes
implicit in the statute that it cannot reasonably
be assumed that Congress intended to permit the suit.
Clarke, 479 U.S. at 399.
When applying the "zone of interests" test, a court must "first discern
the interests `arguably . . . to be protected' by the statutory provision
at issue" and "then inquire whether the plaintiff's interests affected by
the agency action in question are among them." NCUA, 522 U.S. at 492. For
purposes of judicial review under the APA, the relevant statute is the
statute "whose violation is the gravamen of the complaint . . ." Lujan
v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 886, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3187 (1990).
A recent opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit addresses the degree of flexibility inherent in the
prudential standing test. Citing the case of Mova Pharmaceutical Corp. v.
Shalala, 140 F.3d 1060, 1075 (D.C. Cir. 1998), the court held that the
D.C. "Circuit has . . . explained that `[the prudential standing]
analysis focuses, not on those who Congress intended to benefit, but on
those who in practice can be expected to police the interests that the
statute protects.'" Animal Legal Def. Fund, Inc. v. Glickman, 154 F.3d 426,
444 (D.C. Cir. 1998). The same opinion held that:
The zone of interests requires some indicia —
however slight — that the litigant before the
court was intended to be protected, benefitted or
regulated by the statute under which suit is brought.
Courts should give broad compass to a statute's zone
of interests in recognition that this test was
originally intended to expand the number of litigants
able to assert their rights in court.
Id. (citing Autolog Corp. v. Regan, 731 F.2d 25, 29-30 (D.C. Cir.