For nearly a century, since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Fairchild v. Hughes, 258 U.S. 126 (1922) and Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923), the doctrine of legal standing has served as a strict limitation on federal-court jurisdiction. The Court has held that Article III standing is an “irreducible constitutional minimum” that must be met for a plaintiff to bring suit in federal court. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992).
This term, the Court will consider three landmark civil-rights cases that present serious standing issues: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a challenge to the university’s race-conscious admissions policy; and the dual marriage-equality challenges to California’s ban on same-sex marriage in Hollingsworth v. Perry, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor. All three cases present equal-protection challenges that have the potential to effect societal change. And, in all three cases, certain parties face daunting obstacles to satisfying the constitutional standing requirement for invoking the Court’s jurisdiction over their claims.