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United States v. Richardson - 418 U.S. 166, 94 S. Ct. 2940 (1974)


A taxpayer will have standing consistent with U.S. Const. art. III to invoke federal judicial power when he alleges that congressional action under the taxing and spending clause is in derogation of those constitutional provisions which operate to restrict the exercise of the taxing and spending power. U.S. Const. art. III requirements are the threshold inquiry. The gist of the question of standing is whether the party seeking relief has alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.


Respondent Richardson, a federal taxpayer, who had made unsuccessful attempts to obtain from defendant United States ("Government") information concerning the detailed expenditures of the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA"), instituted an action for injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging that certain provisions concerning secrecy of expenditures under the Central Intelligence Agency Act (50 U.S.C.S. § 403 et seq.)—particularly the provisions allowing the CIA to account for its expenditures solely on the certificate of the Director of the CIA—violated Article I, 9, cl 7 of the Constitution, which provided that a regular statement of account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money was to be published from time to time. The Government filed a motion to dismiss, and the district court, concluding that Richardson lacked standing, granted the motion and dismissed the action. On Richardson's appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, holding that although Richardson did not directly attack an appropriation act since he could not question an appropriation about which he had no knowledge, nevertheless he had standing to sue because there was a sufficient nexus between his status as a taxpayer and the constitutional limitation of Article I, 9, cl 7 on Congress' taxing and spending power under Article I, 8 of the Constitution. The Government was granted a writ of certiorari.


Did Richardson have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, 50 U.S.C.S. § 403a et seq.?




The Supreme Court of the United States held that Richardson failed to allege a direct injury and failed to challenge the taxing or spending power, thus, he had no standing. Richardson failed to show he suffered an injury different from that suffered by the public in general.

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