Judicial Review of Agency Action: The Unsettled Law of Standing

Traditionally, the doctrine of standing has existed as the major obstacle frustrating the attempts of numerous plaintiffs to obtain relief for the injuries they have suffered as a result of allegedly illegal action by federal administrative agencies. Frequently, the rigid standards effectively have prevented any feasible plaintiff from challenging the actions of an administrative agency. The ultimate consequence of this problem has been practically to insulate a wide range of administrative activity from judicial review.

In recent years the courts have been under increasing pressure to liberalize the law of standing and to provide a judicial forum where administrative agencies would be required to justify their conduct. In response to this pressure, the Supreme Court, in a series of cases over the past few years, has undertaken a major overhaul of all aspects of the law of standing. In light of this judicial activity, a re-examination of the current law of standing appears to be in order.