Allen v. Wright

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Allen v. Wright
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 468 U.S. 737 (1984)
Date decided 1984

Facts

Parents of black public school children filed a class action suit against the IRS because the IRS was issuing tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory private schools. The parents alleged that their children were directly experiencing harm because the IRS policies stood to segregate the public schools by diverting white student to private schools, and the public schools were by statute required to be desegregated.


Issues

Whether standing is to be recognized in a case where the personal injury is not directly traceable to the unlawful conduct.


Holding

Case dismissed.


Rules

An asserted right to have the government act in accordance with law is not sufficient, standing alone, to confer jurisdiction on a federal court.

A plaintiff must allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by requested relief.

Article III counsels against recognizing standing in a case brought, not to enforce specific legal obligations whose violation works a direct harm, but to seek a restructuring of the apparatus established by the Executive Branch to fulfill its legal duties.


Dissent

The injury is fairly traceable to the Government’s allegedly wrongful conduct, because increasing the price of something naturally means that less of it will be purchased.