Constitutional lawsuits are easy to file. More importantly, they are essential for liberty.
Figuring out what was required to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federal laws was harder than it should be. Hence, this post. I hope this simple list of requirements for constitutional lawsuits helps others pursue their rights.
I believe three things are required for constitutional lawsuits:
- The court must have jurisdiction
- The United States must have waived its sovereign immunity
- And, the plaintiff must have standing (of the constitution’s requirement – cases and controversies)
Federal jurisdiction is established using the same jurisdiction statutes as used for any other other federal lawsuit. Specifically, the federal courts have jurisdiction if the plaintiff is challenging a federal statute (federal question jurisdiction). Sovereign immunity is easily overcome in lawsuits attacking the constitutionality of statutes using the United States citizen’s statutory right of review (5 USC § 702). Finally, the plaintiff must establish standing. Standing is a requirement originating in the constitution. The standing requirement is essential to keep the courts from becoming all powerful and legislators in their own right (God bless the founders). The court has no authority to sit in judgment of any statute unless there is an actual controversy between real parties.
Standing requirements are as follows:
‘First the plaintiff must have suffered an “injury in fact”—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, see id., at 756; Warth v. Seldin, 422 U. S. 490, 508 (1975); Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U. S. 727, 740-741, n. 16 (1972); and (b) “actual or imminent, not `conjectural’ or `hypothetical,’ ” Whitmore, supra, at 155 (quoting Los Angeles v.Lyons, 461 U. S. 95, 102 (1983)). Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of—the injury has to be “fairly. . . trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court.” Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U. S. 26, 41-42 (1976). Third, it must be “likely,” as opposed to merely “speculative,” that the injury will be “redressed by a favorable decision.” Id., at 38, 43’
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 US 555 (S. Ct. 1992).
Constitutional lawsuits are therefore simple to create. I believe it is our civic duty to challenge an overreaching federal agency or employee.