A party to a lawsuit acquires associational standing by showing that "(1) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (2) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization's purpose; and (3) neither the claims asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of the individual members in the lawsuit." McKinney v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury, 799 F.2d 1544, 1550 n.13 (Fed. Cir. 1986) (quoting Hunt, 432 U.S. at 343).
The U.S. Supreme Court explained:
- An association has standing to sue or defend in such capacity, however, only if its members would have standing in their own right. See Food and Commercial Workers v. Brown Group, Inc., 517 U.S. 544, (1996) (slip op., at 7-9); Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 343, 53 L. Ed. 2d 383, 97 S. Ct. 2434 (1977).
Arizonans for Official English v. Ariz., 520 U.S. 43, 65-66 (1997).
The first two prongs of the test above are constitutional, while the third prong is merely "prudential". The "prudential limitations are rules of judicial self-governance that Congress may remove ... by statute." United Food & Commer. Workers Union Local 751 v. Brown Group, 517 U.S. 544, 558 (1996) (inner quotations omitted).
- There are two ways in which Hunt addresses the Article III requirements of injury in fact, causal connection to the defendant's conduct, and redressability.
- First and most obviously, it guarantees the satisfaction of these elements by requiring an organization suing as representative to include at least one member with standing to present, in his or her own right, the claim (or the type of claim) pleaded by the association. As Hunt's most direct address to Article III standing, this first prong can only be seen as itself an Article III necessity for an association's representative suit. Cf. Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26, 40, 48 L. Ed. 2d 450, 96 S. Ct. 1917 (1976) (the association "can establish standing only as representatives of those of their members who have been injured in fact, and thus could have brought suit in their own right").
- Hunt's second prong is, at the least, complementary to the first, for its demand that an association plaintiff be organized for a purpose germane to the subject of its member's claim raises an assurance that the association's litigators will themselves have a stake in the resolution of the dispute, and thus be in a position to serve as the defendant's natural adversary.
- But once an association has satisfied Hunt's first and second prongs assuring adversarial vigor in pursuing a claim for which member Article III standing exists, it is difficult to see a constitutional necessity for anything more. See generally Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-561, 119 L. Ed. 2d 351, 112 S. Ct. 2130 (1992). To see Hunt's third prong as resting on less than constitutional necessity is not, of course, to rob it of its value. It may well promote adversarial intensity. It may guard against the hazard of litigating a case to the damages stage only to find the plaintiff lacking detailed records or the evidence necessary to show the harm with sufficient specificity. And it may hedge against any risk that the damages recovered by the association will fail to find their way into the pockets of the members on whose behalf injury is claimed. But these considerations are generally on point whenever one plaintiff sues for another's injury. And although we noted in Flast that "a litigant will ordinarily not be permitted to assert the rights of absent third parties," 392 U.S. at 99, n. 20; see also Valley Forge, supra, at 474, we recognized in Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. at 751, that "the general prohibition on a litigant's raising another person's legal rights" is a "judicially self-imposed limi[t] on the exercise of federal jurisdiction," not a constitutional mandate. Indeed, the entire doctrine of "representational standing," of which the notion of "associational standing" is only one strand, rests on the premise that in certain circumstances, particular relationships (recognized either by common-law tradition or by statute) are sufficient to rebut the background presumption (in the statutory context, about Congress's intent) that litigants may not assert the rights of absent third parties. Hence the third prong of the associational standing test is best seen as focusing on these matters of administrative convenience and efficiency, not on elements of a case or controversy within the meaning of the Constitution.
United Food & Commer. Workers Union Local 751 v. Brown Group, 517 U.S. 544, 556-557 (1996) (unanimous decision, footnotes omitted, paragraph breaks added).