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WordsofLaw

Words of law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law.

Today’s word is standing.

standing n. (1924) A party’s right to make a legal claim or seek judicial enforcement of a duty or right. • To have standing in federal court, a plaintiff must show (1) that the challenged conduct has caused the plaintiff actual injury, and (2) that the interest sought to be protected is within the zone of interests meant to be regulated by the statutory or constitutional guarantee in question. – Also termed standing to sue. Cf. JUSTICIABILITY.

“Have the appellants alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions? This is the gist of the question of standing.” Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 82 S.Ct. 691, 703 (1962).

“The word standing is rather recent in the basic judicial vocabulary and does not appear to have been commonly used until the middle of our own century. No authority that I have found introduces the term with proper explanations and apologies and announces that henceforth standing should be used to describe who may be heard by a judge. Nor was there any sudden adoption by tacit consent. The word appears here and there, spreading very gradually with no discernible pattern. Judges and lawyers found themselves using the term and did not ask why they did so or where it came from.” Joseph Vining, Legal identity 55 (1978).

 –  Black’s Law Dictionary, 11th ed., Bryan A. Garner, Editor in Chief, Thomson Reuters, 2019.

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