Washington Law Review


State Standing to Challenge Federal Authority in the Modern Administrative State

June 21, 2016 | 91 Wash. L. Rev. 637

Abstract: The modern administrative state relies on a model of shared governance. Federal regulatory regimes addressing a range of economic and social issues depend on the participation of state governments for their implementation. Although these state-federal partnerships are often cooperative, conflicts over the allocation of regulatory authority and administrative policy are inevitable. In recent years, states have sought to resolve some of these conflicts in the federal courts. Well-known state challenges to federal authority include challenges to environmental rules, health insurance legislation, and immigration policies. In these cases, courts have struggled to decide whether states have constitutional standing to bring suit against the federal government. This Article fills a gap in the legal scholarship by proposing a “governance” approach to state standing that would allow states to challenge federal authority when the federal statute at issue contemplates an implementation role for state governments. The governance approach finds support both in historical precedent and in modern regulatory reality. The approach makes state-standing doctrine less susceptible to judicial manipulation and ensures that courts focus on other threshold questions often obscured by overly broad, incoherent standing analyses.

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