United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER United States District Judge.
inmates Steven Fishman and David Carroll Stephenson challenge
the constitutionality of the “Non-Existent Office of
Independent Counsel/Special Counsel.” Amended Compl. at
29. They seek a court order that would compel Deputy Attorney
General Rod Rosenstein to “abate and vacate all
actions” taken by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Id. The problem for Plaintiffs is that they lack
standing to levy such a charge and seek such relief. The
Court therefore must dismiss the case.
Defendants have yet to respond to the Amended Complaint, the
Court has an independent obligation to ensure that it has
subject-matter jurisdiction over the cases before it.
Plaintiffs' lack of standing is abundantly clear from the
face of the complaint. The Court therefore need not entertain
briefing on the matter and will, in the interest of judicial
economy, dismiss the case sua sponte.
is a prerequisite to federal jurisdiction under Article III.
Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016).
Standing doctrine “developed in our case law to ensure
that federal courts do not exceed their authority.”
Id. It “limits the category of litigants
empowered to maintain a lawsuit in federal court to seek
redress for a legal wrong.” Id. The Supreme
Court has established that the “irreducible
constitutional minimum” for standing consists of three
elements: “The plaintiff must have (1) suffered an
injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the
challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely
to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.”
Id. (citation omitted). The plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing each of these elements. Id.
attempt to carry that burden by identifying as members of the
“Sovereign Body Politic, ” who are all
“equally” harmed “by the Defendants'
failure to perform a Mandatory Duty owed to the Sovereign
Body Politic[.]” Amended Compl. at 5. Plaintiffs'
theory runs into various obstacles, but none looms larger
than injury in fact.
establish injury in fact, a plaintiff must show that he or
she suffered ‘an invasion of a legally protected
interest' that is ‘concrete and particularized'
and ‘actual or imminent, not conjectural or
hypothetical.'” Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1548
(quoting Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555,
560 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted)). A
“particularized” injury is one that
“affect[s] the plaintiff in a personal and individual
way.” Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 n.1. An
“undifferentiated” injury-one that is
“common to all members of the public”-will not
suffice. United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166,
Plaintiffs here, therein lies the rub. They claim that
whatever injury is caused by Defendants' unconstitutional
conduct, it “is equally being suffered by
all members of the Sovereign Body Politic, including
but not limited to the Plaintiffs[.]” Amended Compl. at
5 (emphases added). That is the epitome of an
“undifferentiated” injury “common to all
members of the public.” Richardson, 418 U.S.
at 177 (quotation omitted). Nowhere do Plaintiffs argue that
they are suffering some injury separate and apart from, or
above and beyond, what all other members of the
“Sovereign Body Politic” are enduring. See
Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 n.1.
an injury in fact that affects them “in a personal and
individual way, ” they cannot establish the first
element of standing.
the Supreme Court in Richardson, the Court finds
Ex parte Levitt, 302 U.S. 633 (1937), particularly
instructive. 418 U.S. at 177. Albert Levitt challenged
Justice Hugo Black's appointment to the Supreme Court as
violating Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution,
which prohibits a senator from being appointed to another
government post if that post's “Emoluments”
were increased during the senator's time in office.
Ex parte Levitt, 302 U.S. at 633. Black had indeed
served as a senator when Congress voted to increase the
pensions for justices retiring over age 70. Nevertheless,
because Levitt's interest in the case was no more
“than that of a citizen and a member of the bar of [the
Supreme Court], ” he had “merely a general
interest common to all members of the public, ” and
therefore lacked standing. Id As there, so too here:
Plaintiffs want to challenge the constitutionality of Robert
Mueller's appointment as special counsel, but admit that
their interest in doing so is no greater than any member of
the “Sovereign Body Politic.” Amended Compl. at
5. With Plaintiffs unable to establish standing under Article
III of the Constitution, the Court lacks jurisdiction over
Court will, accordingly, dismiss the case for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court will also deny as moot
Plaintiffs' various other motions. A ...