Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Standing to sue may not be predicated upon an interest of the kind alleged here which is held in common by all members of the public, because of the necessarily abstract nature of the injury all citizens share. Concrete injury, whether actual or threatened, is that indispensable element of a dispute which serves in part to cast it in a form traditionally capable of judicial resolution.
An association of present and former members of the Armed Forces Reserves organized to oppose the military involvement of the United States in Vietnam, and individual members of the association, instituted a class action against the Secretary of Defense and the three Service Secretaries, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs challenged the Reserve membership of members of Congress as being in violation of the incompatibility clause of Article I, 6, cl 2 of the Constitution, which provided that no person "holding any Office under the United States" shall be a member of Congress during his continuance in such office. The plaintiffs further sought an order directing the defendants to strike from the rolls of the Reserves all present and future members of Congress, and to seek to reclaim from former and present members of Congress any Reserve pay received while serving in Congress. Seeking relief on behalf of various classes of persons, including taxpayers and citizens, the plaintiffs alleged that injury to themselves and members of the classes resulted because members of Congress holding positions in the Reserves were subject to possible undue influence by the executive branch of government and might not faithfully discharge their duty as members of Congress to which all citizens and taxpayers were entitled. Holding that the plaintiffs had standing to sue only in their status as citizens, the District Court granted partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed in an unpublished opinion. The Secretary of Defense sought review of the decision, arguing that the plaintiff committee lacked standing to make the claim.
Did the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the Reserve membership of members of Congress?
The Court held that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue as taxpayers, since they had failed to establish the requisite logical nexus between the taxpayer status asserted and the claim sought to be adjudicated, the plaintiffs not having challenged a congressional enactment under the taxing and spending clause of Article I, 8 of the Constitution, but rather having challenged the action of the executive branch in permitting members of Congress to maintain their Reserve status. The Court further held that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue as citizens, since the plaintiffs' interest in the controversy was undifferentiated from the generalized interest of all citizens, presenting injury only in the abstract, rather than the requisite concrete injury showing a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.