I think that a lot of the restrictions on standing to sue should be abolished. The argument that particular such restrictions are necessary to prevent the courts from being "swamped" with lawsuits does not hold water -- the time and expense of suing are sufficient deterrents against frivolous lawsuits. Often restrictions on standing are not definite deterrents because of uncertainty over whether the courts will apply restrictions or recognize exceptions to the restrictions -- for example, in my federal lawsuits against the smog impact fee, my proposed exception to general federal-court tax-suit immunity -- that California had "left the sphere that is exclusively its own" (Parden v. Terminal Railway
) by basing the fee entirely on the state's special status under federal auto emissions laws and regulations -- should have been accepted by the courts. Arbitrariness and capriciousness in the restrictions on standing and in applying the restrictions on standing result in unfairness and gross iniquities. Often standing is lost because of mootness caused by lapse of time, and the courts' own delays are often responsible for this particular cause of loss of standing. The right to judicial review should be treated as a very strong right. Some restrictions on standing to sue are arguably unconstitutional because they restrict the federal courts' jurisdiction in areas where the Constitution grants jurisdiction to the federal courts. Following a rule of standing at the expense of violating the Constitution is straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. The time and resources that are lost because of disputes over standing to sue exceed the time and resources that are saved by having restrictions on standing to sue. There is not even consistency in the rules of standing to sue -- for example, despite the "injured-in-fact" rule supposedly based on the "cases and controversies" rule of Article III of the Constitution, the "citizen suit" provisions of environmental laws do not require allegations of actual or potential harm to anyone or anything. I am not saying that all restrictions on standing to sue are bad, but many are.
One thing that we need to get rid of is this "taxpayer" standing crap. Ironically, under the stupid taxpayer standing rules, there would be standing to sue over a religious symbol on public property if the symbol were privately funded but not if the symbol were government funded!
In the establishment clause lawsuit
against the UC-Berkeley evolution website, the issue of taxpayer standing should not apply because the lawsuit is over the way the tax funds are used, not over the allocation of tax funds. The plaintiffs are not demanding that the National Science Foundation or the state stop funding the evolution website. The issue of whether there should be taxpayer standing because of a potential reduction in taxes or a potential refund in taxes does not apply to this lawsuit.
Judges are often afraid to make exceptions to general rules because of a fear that being overruled by a higher court, particularly a supreme court (federal or state), will damage their reputations. However, it is doubtful that a well-reasoned exception to a general rule would be overruled by a supreme court, because overruling the exception would (1) require the supreme court to overturn a precedent that was the basis of the exception and/or (2) make the rules even more complicated than they already are. For example, if the lower court judges had ruled in my favor in my lawsuit against the smog impact fee, the US Supreme Court could have reversed their decision only by repudiating the Supreme Court's own ruling that a state loses its immunity against federal lawsuits when the state "leaves the sphere that is exclusively its own" (Parden v. Terminal Railway) by trespassing into areas that are exclusively under federal jurisdiction.