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Lack of standing upends the Defenders (Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife)

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Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

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The concept of standing, derived from the Latin locus standi, refers to whether a party has a legally sufficient connection to the harm to bring an action in court. Standing is a key component of justiciability, and the landmark Supreme Court decision in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992), is one of the most important cases on the elements of constitutional standing.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 obligated federal agencies to consult with the Secretary of the Interior or Commerce before doing anything that might harm an endangered or threatened species. When the secretaries issued a joint regulation limiting the scope of the consultation requirement to agency actions taken in the United States or on the high seas, environmental groups sued under the Endangered Species Act’s citizen-suit provision, which permitted anyone to sue for an injunction to stop a party or government actor from violating the Act.

The United States Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they were merely asserting a generalized grievance against the government and were unable to demonstrate a personal injury other than the harm suffered equally by all citizens.

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