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One who seeks to initiate or continue proceedings in federal court must demonstrate, among other requirements, both standing to obtain the relief requested and, in addition, an ongoing interest in the dispute on the part of the opposing party that is sufficient to establish "concrete adverseness." When those conditions are met, U.S. Const. art. III does not restrict the opposing party's ability to object to relief being sought at its expense. The requirement of U.S. Const. art. III standing thus has no bearing upon a criminal defendant's capacity to assert defenses in a district court.
When petitioner Bond discovered that her close friend was pregnant by Bond's husband, she began harassing the woman. The woman suffered a minor burn after Bond put caustic substances on objects the woman was likely to touch. Bond was indicted for violating 18 U.S.C. § 229, which forbade knowing possession or use, for nonpeaceful purposes, of a chemical that “can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans,” §§ 229(a); 229F(1); (7); (8), and which was part of a federal Act implementing a chemical weapons treaty ratified by the United States. The District Court denied Bond's motion to dismiss the § 229 charges on the ground that the statute exceeded Congress' constitutional authority to enact. She entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the ruling on the statute's validity. Bond renewed her Tenth Amendment claim. The Third Circuit, however, accepted the Government's position that Bond lacked standing. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Did petitioner lack standing to assert that § 229 was invalid under the Tenth Amendment?
The Supreme Court held that petitioner had standing to challenge § 229 as an infringement upon the powers reserved to the states. The U.S. Const. art. III standing requirement had no bearing on petitioner's capacity to assert defenses in her criminal case, and her appeal met constitutional standing prerequisites. Petitioner could assert her own injury resulting from governmental action that exceeded the authority that federalism defined; federalism's limitations were not a matter of rights belonging only to the states. Petitioner also was not precluded from arguing that § 229 interfered with a specific aspect of state sovereignty, as the principles of limited national powers and state sovereignty were intertwined. Petitioner, as a party to an otherwise justiciable case or controversy, could assert that her injury resulted from disregard of the federal structure of the government.