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A significant question in a society where courts are relied upon to protect individual and group interests from unlawful government infringements is who may obtain review of administrative action. Voluminous litigation over the doctrine of standing and widespread dissatisfaction with it by judges and commentators suggest that the question has been a difficult one. A good deal of the confusion is attributable to a tradition which regards standing as a preliminary question, distinct from the merits of a claim. Such threshold doctrines, which include political question, ripeness, and reviewability, insure concreteness and adverseness in a case and maintain the institutional position of courts by regulating the availability and timing of review. They may characterize substantive issues as a basis for deciding whether the issues are suitable for resolution, but they do not adjudicate the claim. In an unripe case, for example, a court may later decide the identical claim between the same parties. As a member of this grouping, standing is seen to define the proper occasions for adjudication of a claim.
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