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Law School Case Brief

Raines v. Byrd - 521 U.S. 811, 117 S. Ct. 2312 (1997)


One element of the case-or-controversy requirement under U.S. Const. art. III, § 2 is that plaintiff, based on their complaint, must establish that they have standing to sue. The standing inquiry focuses on whether the plaintiff is the proper party to bring this suit, although that inquiry often turns on the nature and source of the claim asserted. To meet the standing requirements of U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, a plaintiff must allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief. The Supreme Court has consistently stressed that a plaintiff's complaint must establish that he has a personal stake in the alleged dispute, and that the alleged injury suffered is particularized as to him. 


Members of the 104th Congress, voted "nay" when Congress passed the Line Item Veto Act (Act), 2 U.S.C.S. § 691 et seq., which gives the President the authority to cancel certain spending and tax benefit measures after he has signed them into law. The day after the Act went into effect, the Congress members filed suit against the Executive Branch officials, challenging the Act's constitutionality. The District Court denied the Executive Branch’s motion to dismiss, finding that the claim that the Act diluted their Article I voting power was sufficient to confer Article III standing and that their claim was ripe, even though the President had not yet used the Act's cancellation authority, because they found themselves in a position of unanticipated and unwelcome subservience to the President before and after their votes on appropriations bills. The District Court then granted the members' motion for summary judgment, holding that the Act violated the Presentment Clause, Art. I, § 7, cl. 2, and constituted an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the President.


Did the members of Congress have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Line Item Veto Act?




On direct appeal, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the members of Congress lacked standing because they did not allege they had been individually or concretely harmed by the Line Item Veto Act, only that official congressional power as a whole was affected. The members had not voted for a bill that was affected by the Act. Congress' power to enact or repeal bills was not affected. Congress approved the Act and was also able to repeal it if it desired.

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