In law, standing, or locus standi is the ability for a plaintiff to bring proof that a current law does or will affect them negatively and substantially. The term is used when laws currently in operation are challenged. In order for a law to be successfully challenged, the person bringing the suit must be able to prove damages incurred by the law, and thus prove right to standing.
From a 1975 Supreme Court Ruling, courts decide whether a law can be attacked through lawsuits and determine standing as “whether the litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of the dispute or of the particular issues.”
In order to be able to prove standing the person suing must be able to fulfill several requirements. The person must be able to establish that he or she has suffered or will suffer injury as a result of the law. Injury incurred or imminent injury must be sufficient in order to merit standing.
Additionally, it must be established that the injury is directly caused by the law in question. Also, changing the law would mean redressing harms caused by the injury or preventing injuring. If changing the law would not redress such issues, then the case has no standing.
All three requirements must be met for a plaintiff to be given the right of standing and having the case heard by the courts. As well, the Supreme Court provides limitations on standing.
The three limitations imposed by the court are as follows:
1) The person can only stand for him or herself. The person standing cannot represent a third party who cannot be present in court.
2) Suing when damages affect many other people as well is not permissible.
3) Standing has to take place in the appropriate court (zone of interest), and the person standing must be within the area, again zone of interest, that is affected by the challenged law.
With such requirements and limitations, many who would like to prove standing before a law are unable to do so. Most of US law regarding standing has been further explained through cases where standing rights have been denied.
For example in the 1991 Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, a group of wildlife conservationists were determined not to have right to challenge actions of the US Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce because they could not prove themselves personally affected by the regulations. The court clarified that injury occurring must be imminent and concrete, and could not be hypothetical.