MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted certiorari, sub nom. Richardson v. Reservists Committee to Stop the War, 411 U.S. 947 (1973), to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming, without opinion, the District Court's partial summary judgment for respondents declaring that "Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution renders a member of Congress ineligible to hold a commission in the Armed Forces Reserve during his continuance in office." Reservists Committee to Stop the War v. Laird, 323 F.Supp. 833, 843 (DC 1971). We hold that respondents do not have standing to sue as citizens or taxpayers. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore reversed.
Article I, § 6, cl. 2, of the Federal Constitution provides:
The Constitution thereby makes Members of Congress ineligible for appointment to certain offices through the limitation of the Ineligibility Clause, and prohibits Members of Congress from holding other offices through the latter limitation, the Incompatibility Clause.
Respondents, the Reservists Committee to Stop the War and certain named members thereof,
Respondents sought the above relief on behalf of four classes of persons. The Committee and the individual respondents sought to represent the interests of (1) all persons opposed to United States military involvement in Vietnam and purporting to use lawful means, including communication with and persuasion of Members of Congress, to end that involvement. The individual respondents alone sought to represent the interests of (2) all officers and enlisted members of the Reserves who were not Members of Congress, (3) all taxpayers of the United States, and (4) all citizens of the United States. The interests of these four classes were alleged to be adversely affected by the Reserve membership of Members of Congress in various ways.
Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss respondents' complaint on the ground that respondents lacked standing to bring the action, and because the complaint failed to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted. The latter ground was based upon the contention that the Incompatibility Clause sets forth a qualification for Membership in the Congress, U. S. Const., Art. I, § 5, cl. 1, not a qualification for a position in the Executive Branch. The power to judge that qualification was asserted
The District Court concluded that it first had to determine whether respondents had standing to bring the action and, without citation to authority, stated:
The court then held that of the four classes respondents sought to represent, "[o]nly their status as citizens" gave them standing to sue in this case. Id., at 840. The District Court denied standing to respondents as reservists, as opponents of our Vietnam involvement, and as taxpayers. The court acknowledged that there were very few instances in which the assertion of "merely the undifferentiated interest of citizens," ibid., would be sufficient, but was persuaded to find that interest sufficient here by several considerations it found present in the nature of the dispute before it and by the asserted abandonment of standing limitations by the Court of Appeals, whose decisions were binding on the District Court.
In response to petitioners' contention that the Incompatibility Clause sets forth a qualification only for Membership in the Congress, which Congress alone might judge, the District Court characterized the issue as whether respondents presented a nonjusticiable "political question," resolution of which by the text of the Constitution was committed to the Congress under Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962). The court held that the failure of the Executive Branch to remove reservist Members of Congress from their Reserve positions was justiciable.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the District Court in an unpublished opinion "on the basis of the memorandum opinion of the District Court." The Court of Appeals added that it was "also of the view that [respondents] have the requisite standing and that their claim is judicially enforceable under the rationale of" Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968), and Baker v. Carr, supra. Petitioners present three questions for review: (1) whether respondents have standing, "either as citizens or as federal taxpayers," to bring this claim, (2) whether respondents' claim presents a "political question" not subject to judicial review, and (3) whether "membership" in the Reserves constitutes an "Office under the United States" within the meaning of the Incompatibility Clause. Pet. for Cert. 2.
In Flast v. Cohen, supra, at 95, the Court noted that the concept of justiciability, which expresses the jurisdictional limitations imposed upon federal courts by the "case or controversy" requirement of Art. III, embodies both the standing and political question doctrines upon which petitioners in part rely. Each of these doctrines poses a distinct and separate limitation, Powell v. McCormack, 395 U. S., at 512; Baker v. Carr, supra, at 198, so that either the absence of standing or the presence of a political question suffices to prevent the power of the federal judiciary from being invoked by the complaining party. The more sensitive and complex task of determining whether a particular issue presents a political question causes courts, as did the District Court here, to turn initially, although not invariably,
The District Court considered standing as to each of the four capacities in which respondents brought suit; it rejected standing as to three of the four, holding that respondents could sue only as citizens. The Court of Appeals' judgment of affirmance, based solely upon the opinion of the District Court, did not alter the District Court's ruling on standing. The standing question presented in the petition for certiorari is addressed to the District Court's holding on citizen standing and seeks to add the question whether respondents also had standing as taxpayers.
To have standing to sue as a class representative it is essential that a plaintiff must be a part of that class, that is, he must possess the same interest and suffer the same injury shared by all members of the class he represents. Indiana Employment Division v. Burney, 409 U.S. 540 (1973); Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31 (1962). In granting respondents standing to sue as representatives
The only interest all citizens share in the claim advanced by respondents is one which presents injury in the abstract. Respondents seek to have the Judicial Branch compel the Executive Branch to act in conformity with the Incompatibility Clause, an interest shared by all citizens. The very language of respondents' complaint, supra, at 212, reveals that it is nothing more than a matter of speculation whether the claimed nonobservance of that Clause deprives citizens of the faithful discharge of the legislative duties of reservist Members of Congress. And that claimed nonobservance, standing alone, would adversely affect only the generalized interest of all citizens in constitutional governance, and that is an abstract injury.
Our analysis begins with Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), where the Court stated that the gist of the inquiry must be whether the complaining party has
Although dealing with a case of claimed taxpayer standing, Flast v. Cohen, supra, gave further meaning to the need for a "personal stake" in noting that it was meant to assure that the complainant seeking to adjudicate his claim was the "proper party" to present the claim "in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution." 392 U. S., at 100, 101. In the circumstances of Flast, the Court held that the taxpayer-complainant before it had established a relationship between his status as a taxpayer and his claim under the Taxing and Spending Clause sufficient to give assurance.
While Flast noted that the "case or controversy" limitation on the federal judicial power found in Art. III is a "blend of constitutional requirements and policy considerations," id., at 97, the Court, subsequently, in the context of judicial review of regulatory agency action held that whatever else the "case or controversy" requirement embodied, its essence is a requirement of "injury in fact." Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 152 (1970). Although we there noted that the categories of judicially cognizable injury were being broadened, id., at 154, we have more recently stressed that the broadening of categories "is a different matter from abandoning the requirement that the party seeking review must himself have suffered an injury."
Ex parte Lévitt, 302 U.S. 633 (1937), was the only other occasion in which the Court faced a question under Art. I, § 6, cl. 2, although that challenge was made under the Ineligibility Clause, not the Incompatibility Clause involved here. There a petition was filed in this Court seeking an order to show cause why one of the Justices should not be disqualified to serve as an Associate Justice. The petition asserted that the appointment and confirmation of the Justice in August 1937 was unlawful because the Act of March 1, 1937, permitting Justices to retire at full salary after a period of specified service, thereby increased the emoluments of the office and that the statute was enacted while the challenged Justice was a Senator. The appointment of the Justice by the President and his confirmation by the Senate were thus said to violate the Ineligibility Clause which provides:
The Court held:
The Court has today recognized the continued vitality of Lévitt,
Moreover, when a court is asked to undertake constitutional adjudication, the most important and delicate of its responsibilities, the requirement of concrete injury further serves the function of insuring that such adjudication does not take place unnecessarily. This principle is particularly applicable here, where respondents seek an interpretation of a constitutional provision which has never before been construed by the federal courts. First, concrete injury removes from the realm of speculation whether there is a real need to exercise the power of judicial review in order to protect the interests of the complaining party.
Second, the discrete factual context within which the concrete injury occurred or is threatened insures the framing of relief no broader than required by the precise facts to which the court's ruling would be applied. This is especially important when the relief sought produces a confrontation with one of the coordinate branches of the Government; here the relief sought would, in practical effect, bring about conflict with two coordinate branches.
To permit a complainant who has no concrete injury to require a court to rule on important constitutional issues in the abstract would create the potential for abuse of the judicial process, distort the role of the Judiciary in its relationship to the Executive and the Legislature and open the Judiciary to an arguable charge of providing "government by injunction."
Our conclusion that there is no citizen standing here, apart from being in accord with all other federal courts of appeals that have considered the question, until the
The District Court next acknowledged this Court's longstanding reluctance to entertain "generalized grievances about the conduct of government," Flast v. Cohen, 392 U. S., at 106, but distinguished respondents' complaint from such grievances by characterizing the Incompatibility Clause as "precise [and] self-operative." 323 F. Supp., at 840. Even accepting that characterization of the Clause it is not an adequate substitute for the judicially cognizable injury not present here. Moreover, that characterization rested, as did the preceding characterization, on an interpretation of the Clause by way of the Court's preliminary appraisal of the merits of respondents' claim before standing was found. In any event, the Ineligibility Clause involved in Lévitt, supra, is no less specific or less "precise [and] self-operative" than the Incompatibility Clause.
The District Court further relied on the fact that the adverse parties sharply conflicted in their interests and views and were supported by able briefs and arguments. Id., at 841. We have no doubt about the sincerity of respondents' stated objectives and the depth of their commitment to them. But the essence of standing
This same theme as to the inadequacy of motivation to support standing is suggested in the Court's opinion in Sierra Club, supra:
Respondents' motivation has indeed brought them sharply into conflict with petitioners, but as the Court has noted, motivation is not a substitute for the actual injury needed by the courts and adversaries to focus litigation efforts and judicial decisionmaking. Moreover, the evaluation of the quality of the presentation on the merits was a retrospective judgment that could have properly been arrived at only after standing had been found so as to permit the court to consider the merits. A logical corollary to this approach would be the manifestly untenable view that the inadequacy of the presentation on the merits would be an appropriate basis for denying standing.
Furthermore, to have reached the conclusion that respondents' interests as citizens were meant to be protected by the Incompatibility Clause because the primary purpose of the Clause was to insure independence of each of the branches of the Federal Government, similarly involved an appraisal of the merits before the issue of standing was resolved. All citizens, of course, share equally an interest in the independence of each branch of Government. In some fashion, every provision of the Constitution
Closely linked to the idea that generalized citizen interest is a sufficient basis for standing was the District Court's observation that it was not irrelevant that if respondents could not obtain judicial review of petitioners' action, "then as a practical matter no one can." Our system of government leaves many crucial decisions to the political processes. The assumption that if respondents have no standing to sue, no one would have standing, is not a reason to find standing. See United States v. Richardson, ante, at 179.
Consideration of whether respondents have standing to sue as taxpayers raises a different question from whether they may sue as citizens. Flast v. Cohen, supra, established that status as a taxpayer can, under certain limited circumstances, supply the personal stake essential to standing. There, the Court held that, in order to ensure the necessary personal stake, there must be "a logical
Here, the District Court, applying the Flast holding, denied respondents' standing as taxpayers for failure to satisfy the nexus test. We agree with that conclusion since respondents did not challenge an enactment under Art. I, § 8, but rather the action of the Executive Branch in permitting Members of Congress to maintain their Reserve status.
Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE STEWART, concurring.
I agree with the Court that the respondents lack standing to sue either as citizens or taxpayers in this case. Here, unlike United States v. Richardson, ante, p. 166, the respondents do not allege that the petitioners have refused to perform an affirmative duty imposed upon
The Court's judgment in this case is wholly consistent with United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669. Standing is not today found wanting because an injury has been suffered by many, but rather because none of the respondents has alleged the sort of direct, palpable injury required for standing under Art. III. Like the plaintiff in Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, the respondents seek only to air what we described in Flast as "generalized grievances about the conduct of government." 392 U. S., at 106. Our prior cases make clear that such abstract allegations cannot suffice to confer Art. III standing, and I therefore join the opinion and judgment of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL joins, dissenting.
The requirement of "standing" to sue is a judicially created instrument serving several ends: (1) It protects the status quo by reducing the challenges that may be made to it and to its institutions. It greatly restricts the classes of persons who may challenge administrative action. Its application in this case serves to make the bureaucracy of the Pentagon more and more immune from the protests of citizens. (2) It sometimes is used to bar from the courts questions which by the Constitution are left to the other two coordinate branches to resolve, viz., the so-called political question. (3) It is at times a way of ridding court dockets whether of abstract questions or questions involving no concrete controversial issue.
Our leading case is Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, decided in 1923, where a taxpayer challenged the constitutionality of an Act of Congress that gave grants
That ruling had in it an admixture of the "political question" because, said the Court, the only occasion when the federal court may act is when a federal law results in "some direct injury suffered or threatened, presenting a justiciable issue." Id., at 488. When that element is lacking, judicial intrusion would trespass on powers granted another department of Government. "To do so would be not to decide a judicial controversy, but to assume a position of authority over the governmental
In 1968—45 years after Frothingham—that case was revisited in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, where federal taxpayers sued to enjoin the expenditure of federal funds under an Act of Congress granting financial aid to religious schools. The Court held that those taxpayers did have "standing" to sue for two reasons. First, because they challenged the exercise of congressional power under the Taxing and Spending Clause of Art. I, § 8, of the Constitution, not the incidental expenditure of tax funds in the administration of an essentially regulatory statute. Second, because the challenged enactment exceeded the limitations imposed upon the exercise of the congressional taxing and spending power. See 392 U. S., at 102-104. Therefore, the Court concluded that the taxpayer had "the requisite personal stake," id., at 101, in the litigation to have "standing" to sue and the Court went on to hold that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment "operates as a specific constitutional limitation upon the exercise by Congress of the taxing and spending power conferred by Art. I, § 8." 392 U. S., at 104.
The present case implicates two provisions of the Constitution. Article I, § 8, cl. 1, provides: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States . . . ." Article I, § 6, cl. 2, of the Constitution says that "no Person holding any Office
The present suit is not one to oust Members from Congress. Rather it is brought against the Secretary of Defense challenging his keeping in the Armed Services of the United States Members of Congress who hold commissions as reservists.
Various Acts of Congress make various appropriations for the services of reservists. See, e. g., Pub. L. 92-145, 85 Stat. 414; Pub. L. 92-545, § 801 et seq., 86 Stat. 1154.
Article I, § 6, cl. 2, is often referred to as the Incompatibility Clause. At the 1783 convention some proposed that Members of Congress be allowed to serve in the Executive Branch,
As stated by Hamilton in The Federalist No.76, p. 476 (H. Lodge ed. 1888), the Incompatibility Clause had a specific purpose: to avoid "the danger of executive influence upon the legislative body."
While respondents have standing as taxpayers, their citizenship also gives them standing to challenge the appropriation acts financing activities of the reservists.
We tend to overlook the basic political and legal reality that the people, not the bureaucracy, are the sovereign. Our Federal Government was created for the security and happiness of the people. Executives, lawmakers, and
The Preamble of the Constitution states that "We the People" ordained and established the Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence stated that to insure "certain unalienable Rights," "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" and "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it."
The present case does not involve a restructuring of society—a procedure left to legislative action in part but mostly to constitutional conventions. All that the citizens in this case seek is to have the Constitution enforced as it is written. It is not a suit to unseat Members of Congress. Any decree that issued would run to the Secretary of Defense to take the challenged reservists off his list.
The interest of citizens is obvious. The complaint alleges injuries to the ability of the average citizen to make his political advocacy effective whenever it touches on the vast interests of the Pentagon. It is said that all who oppose the expansion of military influence in our national affairs find they are met with a powerful lobby— the Reserve Officers Association—which has strong congressional allies.
Whether that is true or not we do not know. So far as the Incompatibility Clause of the Constitution is concerned that contention is immaterial. It is as immaterial to the function of Art. I, § 6, cl. 2, of the Constitution as would be a suggestion that the establishment of a religion under the First Amendment is benign in a given case. What the Framers did in each case was to set up constitutional fences barring certain affiliations, certain kinds of appropriations. Their judgment was that the
The interest of citizens in guarantees written in the Constitution seems obvious. Who other than citizens has a better right to have the Incompatibility Clause enforced? It is their interests that the Incompatibility Clause was designed to protect. The Executive Branch under our regime is not a fiefdom or principality competing with the Legislative as another center of power. It operates within a constitutional framework, and it is that constitutional framework that these citizens want to keep intact. That is, in my view, their rightful concern. We have insisted that more than generalized grievances of a citizen be shown, that he must have a "personal stake in the outcome," Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204. But that "personal stake" need not be a monetary one. In Baker v. Carr, it was the right to vote, an important badge of citizenship. The "personal stake" in the present case is keeping the Incompatibility Clause an operative force in the Government by freeing the entanglement of the federal bureaucracy with the Legislative Branch.
Ex parte Lévitt, 302 U.S. 633, is not opposed. Lévitt moved in this Court to have it declare the appointment of Mr. Justice Black unconstitutional. He alleged that Mr. Justice Black, as Senator, had voted to increase the "emoluments" of the office of Associate Justice and was therefore barred from taking office by reason of Art. I, § 6, cl. 2, of the Constitution. The Court denied the motion to file an original action stating:
The only "emolument" of office which Mr. Justice Black as Senator had voted to increase was the retirement compensation of federal judges as spelled out in the Act of March 1, 1937, c. 21, 50 Stat. 24. That emolument might never accrue to an appointee for he would first have to serve a designated number of years. It turned out that even though Justice Black served over 34 years he never received any benefits under the Retirement Act. Hence the Court showed wisdom in deciding that Lévitt showed no "direct injury." His claim of constitutional violation was remote, speculative, and contingent. The present suit has no such deficiency. It asserts a present, ongoing conflict between the Pentagon's policies and the Incompatibility Clause of the Constitution.
The interest of the citizen in this constitutional question is, of course, common to all citizens. But as we said in United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 687-688, "standing is not to be denied simply because many people suffer the same injury. . . . To deny standing to persons who are in fact injured simply because many others are also injured, would mean that the most injurious and widespread Government actions could be questioned by nobody."
I would affirm the judgment below.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, dissenting.
The "standing" of a plaintiff to be heard on a claim of invasion of his alleged legally protected right is established, in my view, by his good-faith allegation that " `the challenged action has caused him injury in fact.' " Barlow
Richardson plainly alleged injury in fact. My Brother STEWART demonstrates this in his analysis of Richardson's claimed right to have the budget of the Central Intelligence Agency published. The claim was not merely that failure to publish was a violation of the Constitution. The claim went further and alleged that this violation deprived Richardson, as an individual, and not as an inseparable part of the citizenry, of a right given him by Art. I, § 9, cl. 7. Moreover, his complaint, properly construed, alleged that the violations caused him injury not only in respect of his right as a citizen to know how Congress was spending the public fisc, but also in respect of his right as a voter to receive information to aid his decision how and for whom to vote. These claims may ultimately fail on the merits, but Richardson has "standing" to assert them.
Similarly, I would hold that respondent Reservists Committee and its members have demonstrated sufficient "injury in fact" to maintain their suit. Their allegation that they are injured as taxpayers, while at first glance seeming extraordinarily difficult to prove, is neither impossible nor, on the basis of this record, made in bad faith. If the Secretary of Defense takes a contrary position
Unlike my Brother STEWART, who distinguishes these two cases, I would find that Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968), supports the conclusion that these allegations of injury-in-fact are sufficient to give respondents in both cases "standing." Speaking generally of standing, we there said:
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, dissenting.
I agree with my Brother DOUGLAS that respondents have standing as citizens to bring this action. I cannot accept the majority's characterization of respondents' complaint as alleging only "injury in the abstract" and " `generalized grievances' about the conduct of the Government."
The specific interest which they thus asserted, and which they alleged had been infringed by violations of the Incompatibility Clause, though doubtless widely shared, is certainly not a "general interest common to all members of the public." Ex parte Lévitt, 302 U.S. 633, 634 (1937). Not all citizens desired to have the Congress take all steps necessary to terminate American involvement in Vietnam, and not all citizens who so desired sought to persuade members of Congress to that end.
Respondents nevertheless had a right under the First Amendment to attempt to persuade Congressmen to end the war in Vietnam. And respondents have alleged a right, under the Incompatibility Clause, to have their arguments considered by Congressmen not subject to a conflict of interest by virtue of their positions in the Armed Forces Reserves. Respondents' complaint therefore states, in my view, a claim of direct and concrete injury to a judicially cognizable interest. It is a sad commentary on our priorities that a litigant who contends that a violation of a federal statute has interfered with his aesthetic appreciation of natural resources can have that claim heard by a federal court, see United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 687 (1973), while one who contends that a violation of a specific provision of the United
I respectfully dissent.
"[T]he standing of a party need not come into question if a court determines that for other reasons the issue raised before the bench is non-justiciable."
That court thus held in effect that if no justiciable question is presented no one has standing. DaCosta v. Laird, 471 F.2d 1146, 1152 (1973). See also Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 731 (1972); Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 100 (1968).
In Baker v. Carr, the Court cited with approval the early case of Liverpool, N. Y. & Phila. S. S. Co. v. Comm'rs of Emigration, 113 U.S. 33 (1885), where it was held that a federal court can adjudge rights only "in actual controversies." Id., at 39.