Standing, Injury in Fact, and Private Rights

62 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2007

See all articles by F. Andrew Hessick

F. Andrew Hessick

University of North Carolina School of Law


Under current law, a plaintiff has standing to bring suit only if he alleges that he suffered an injury in fact. The Supreme Court has said that this factual injury requirement is necessary to preserve the separation of powers by limiting courts to their historical function of resolving only the rights of individuals. But, despite this stated purpose, the Court has required a showing of injury in fact in actions where a plaintiff alleges the violation of a private right. This Article argues that the injury in fact requirement is superfluous in such actions. Yet the Court has not distinguished such cases, and has in fact denied standing in cases alleging the violation of private rights. As the Article shows, requiring a showing of factual injury in private rights cases is ahistorical and actually undermines the separation of powers by preventing the courts from guarding rights and by limiting Congress's power to create rights.

Keywords: standing, jurisdiction, private rights, injury in fact, supreme court, federal courts

Suggested Citation

Hessick, F. Andrew, Standing, Injury in Fact, and Private Rights. Cornell Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

F. Andrew Hessick (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

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