Laird v. Tatum and Article III Standing in Surveillance Cases

13 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016 Last revised: 24 Jun 2016

See all articles by Jeffrey Vagle

Jeffrey Vagle

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: February 1, 2016


Plaintiffs seeking to challenge government surveillance programs have faced long odds in federal courts, due mainly to a line of Supreme Court cases that have set a very high bar to Article III standing in these cases. The origins of this jurisprudence can be directly traced to Laird v. Tatum, a 1972 case where the Supreme Court considered the question of who could sue the government over a surveillance program, holding in a 5-4 decision that chilling effects arising “merely from the individual’s knowledge” of likely government surveillance did not constitute adequate injury to meet Article III standing requirements.

Keywords: Surveillance, Standing

Suggested Citation

Vagle, Jeffrey, Laird v. Tatum and Article III Standing in Surveillance Cases (February 1, 2016). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 18, Pg. 1055, 2016; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-18. Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey Vagle (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA PA 19104
United States
215.253.7890 (Phone)

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