ConfusedL1 wrote:Can someone explain how Congress can't confer standing but can create a private right of action that essentially does just that?
It's nitpicky and there's definitely a lot of grey area at the margins (see Spokeo) but standing is constitutional in nature and goes to separation of powers. Congress can't pass legislation that says courts have to hear a certain type of case. What they can do is pass legislation that then has the effect of creating standing because it gives an individual certain rights that can be injured.
Like Congress can't pass a law that says, in substance, when (condition x) occurs courts will apply a presumption of injury for standing analysis. But they can pass a law that prohibits condition x from occurring that then creates a new cause of action if a plaintiff can show injury, causation, and redressability. This obviously gets a little dicey with the citizens AG laws but I don't think we'll see that on the bar.
IDK, I'm sure someone else can do a better job explaining it.
When Congress creates a private right of action, plaintiffs still need to show that they have constitutional (Article III) standing (injury in fact, causation, redressability) to sue under that private right of action. Then, the plaintiff needs show show that they are within that cause of action's "zone of interests" so that they are the type of plaintiff that Congress had in mind when they created that cause of action, but that's outside of the scope of your question.
For example, the ADEA prohibits age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. The Constitution doesn't protect this right, but Congress's law / cause of action does. For a plaintiff to sue under the ADEA, they have to first allege constitutional standing by showing that they suffered (i) an injury in fact (i.e., a concrete and particularized harm that is actual and imminent) that is (ii) fairly traceable to the defendant and (iii) redressable by the court. This language comes from Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife
.). The harm alleged under the ADEA could be money damages suffered by the plaintiff, like you were fired from a job because you were over 40 and now you won't make money from that job.
In other words, Congress can't pass a statute that confers standing on a plaintiff without that plaintiff alleging the minimum constitutional standing - whether that statutory violation caused a concrete and particularized harm to that plaintiff that is actual and imminent. An example of a statute that wouldn't meet this requirement is a statute that creates a private cause of action, enforceable by anyone, every time someone posts on TLS. How would that violation - someone post on TLS - harm someone? It probably wouldn't, so a violation of that statute wouldn't confer standing by itself. However, if someone defamed a poster using TLS, then maybe the statute would confer standing.
I hope this makes sense.