Category: Iowa State University

Constitutional Law (Samuel) #2: Mootness

In Samuel Berbano’s second of a series of podcasts on justiciability doctrines, we’ll analyze the question of Mootness as it relates to Federal Article III courts.  These courts are bound to take only cases which commentators call a “case or controversy” requirement.  This requirement exists to preserve the integrity of the adversarial system.

The second doctrine addressed is mootness.  An issue that Federal courts declare moot is not justiciable and cannot be decided.  An issue becomes moot when, in the course of litigation, events transpire which deprive one or both parties of a stake in the case.  Similar to playing the card game of Poker, one can’t hope to play a hand if (1) they don’t have money in the pot and a personal stake in the outcome and (2) they’ve folded their hand and don’t want to keep playing.

The DeFunis case shows how an issue can become moot in the course of litigation.  Roe, our second case, shows a case that would normally be considered moot, but falls under one of the four exceptions to the mootness doctrine:

1) “Continuing Harm to Plaintiff”

2) “Voluntary Cessation”

3) “Capable of Repetition, But Evading Review”

4) Class Action Lawsuits

DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974)
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

Constitutional Law (Samuel) #1: Standing

In Samuel Berbano’s first of a series of podcasts on justiciability doctrines, we’ll analyze the question of standing as it relates to Federal Article III courts. These courts are bound to take only cases containing what legal commentators call a “case or controversy” requirement. This requirement exists to preserve the integrity of the adversarial system.

The first justiciability addressed is standing. Plaintiffs have standing when the court finds that there is (I) an legally-recognised harm to the plaintiff, (II) a reasonable causal connexion between the injury to the plaintiff and the complained-of conduct of the defendant, and (III) a likelihood that an affirmative ruling will vindicate the rights of the plaintiff.

Cases include issues of what constitutes a harm, when third parties suffer harm, questions of taxpayer standing, and a hypothetical about punching one’s younger brother in the face. No little brothers were harmed in the making of this podcast.

Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992)
Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490 (1975)
Com. of Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923)
Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968)