|Grounds for judicial review
Administrative law in
common law jurisdictions
Administrative law in
civil law jurisdictions
Justiciability concerns the limits upon legal issues over which a court can exercise its judicial authority. It includes, but is not limited to, the legal concept of standing, which is used to determine if the party bringing the suit is a party appropriate to establishing whether an actual adversarial issue exists. Essentially, justiciability seeks to address whether a court possesses the ability to provide adequate resolution of the dispute; where a court believes that it cannot offer such a final determination, the matter is not justiciable.
|United States federal
civil procedure doctrines
Justiciability relates to the several factors federal courts use to determine whether they have authority to hear the cases brought before them. Rules regarding justiciability can be of either a constitutional or prudential nature. The constitutional rules stem from express or implicit powers and limitations given to the federal courts under Article III. The prudential rules arise from contextual situations where federal courts do not feel it would be appropriate for them to resolve a case.
The constitutional rules governing justiciability stem directly from the text of the Constitution, whether express or implied. The clause primarily affecting the ability of federal courts to adjudicate is Article III, § 2. This section extends the federal judicial power to "all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority", and further enumerates the subject matter of other cases or controversies arising under either state or local law to which the federal judicial power shall also extend. Implicitly, the rules regard either the nature of the case or the nature of the parties.
For a dispute to rise to the level of a case or controversy, it must first have a party seeking to enforce its rights before a court in a manner prescribed by law; that is, under the ordinary processes established by law and custom. Implicitly, this requires that the dispute be one of a nature commonly viewed as capable of having a court act upon it in a specific and conclusive manner. For a court to act upon a case, however, the dispute must concern a definite and concrete matter. For it to even be a dispute, it requires the parties have adverse legal interests. From these characteristics may be distilled factors determining the justiciability of a case or controversy before a federal court:
Where a dispute cannot pass beyond all of the above factors, a federal court is considered as constitutionally barred from hearing it. Even if a dispute does clear all of the above factors, resolution of the dispute by a federal court still may be constitutionally barred if the parties themselves lack standing.
While certain disputes may clear all of the constitutional factors of justiciability and standing which otherwise would bar it from being heard in federal court, the courts themselves have created other rules which may serve to divest a dispute of its justiciable nature. The concepts undergirding the constitutional factors for justiciability and standing generally serve to support the court-created prudential rules.
Federal courts typically use the following rules to dismiss disputes as nonjusticiable:
However, other prudential rules exist which might save a dispute from the prudential rules above:
As with judge-made rules in general, Congress has power to expand, limit, or prohibit prudential justiciability rules by law.
State courts tend to require a similar set of circumstances, although some states permit their courts to give advisory opinions on questions of law, even though there may be no actual dispute between parties to resolve. Unlike federal courts with limited jurisdiction, state courts are not bound by the “case or controversy” clause of Art. III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Federal courts' decisions on mootness, advisory opinions, and related matters may be considered and even found persuasive, depending on the state's laws, but are not controlling.
Under the "ministerial exception" based on the First Amendment, courts decline to hear defamation, employment and other actions founded on statements or beliefs that necessarily implicate the truth or falsity of religious doctrine.
The issue of non-justiciability has been recognized in Buttes Gas and Oil Co. v Hammer, where Lord Wilberforce stated that the principle "that the courts will not adjudicate upon the transactions of foreign sovereign states" is not a matter of discretion, but is "inherent in the nature of the judicial process". The principle was further developed in Kuwait Airways Corp. v Iraqi Airways Co..