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separation of powers, executive enforcement, justiciable harm, structure of standing, william fletcher, standing doctrine, Laidlaw, Lujan, diffuse harm, Marbury, justiciability


Originally published as part of an online roundtable on Spokeo v. Robins,


In Spokeo v. Robins, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to address the following question: Does Congress have the power to confer standing upon an individual claiming that a privately owned website violated its federal statutory obligation to take specified steps designed to promote accuracy in aggregating and reporting his personal and financial data even if the resulting false disclosures did not produce concrete harm? This somewhat arcane standing issue involves congressional power to broaden the scope of the first of three constitutional standing requirements: injury in fact, causation, and redressability. Although the case does not directly address the prudential standing elements—no right to enforce the rights of others or to litigate diffuse harms—this Essay will demonstrate that along with the remaining constitutional elements of standing, the analysis also implicates these prudential barriers.

Spokeo presents a valuable opportunity to solidify standing doctrine’s proper constitutional foundations. This Essay demonstrates that properly understood, standing doctrine is designed to preserve and protect congressional primacy in lawmaking. This includes deferring to Congress’s policy decision concerning who has standing to enforce its statutes.

Publication Citation

68 Vanderbilt Law Review en banc 221 (2015).


Constitutional Law | Jurisprudence | Public Law and Legal Theory | Supreme Court of the United States