The Taxing Law of Taxpayer Standing
25 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2008 Last revised: 3 Oct 2008
Date Written: 2008
This article, "The Taxing Law of Taxpayer Standing," is a comprehensive exploration of the issues raised by the Supreme Court case Hein v. Freedom from Religion, et al, 551 U.S. __ (2007). The Court in Hein denied standing to federal taxpayers challenging President Bush's faith-based initiative program. This decision makes it virtually impossible for plaintiffs to challenge Executive Branch actions that allegedly violate the Establishment Clause unless Congress specifically authorized the expenditure at issue. If the President, for example, placed a permanent cross in the White House without using funds earmarked by Congress, it is unlikely anyone would have standing to challenge that decision. Hein also reaffirms the seminal taxpayer standing case, Flast v. Cohen, which has been repeatedly criticized by scholars and Supreme Court Justices. This piece details the history of the taxpayer standing question, fully discusses the Hein decision, and suggests an alternative approach to this vexing jurisdictional question.
Keywords: taxpayer standing, establishment clause, tax, jurisdiction
JEL Classification: K10, K34, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation