Standing and the PATRIOT Act

Federal Courts - now that's a class.  Many Section 1983 lawsuits get screwed up because the lawyers think Section 1983 is just another tort.  Section 1983 puts the constitutional in constitutional torts.  Article III, yo.  The procedural stuff is nasty.  And don't even get me started Section 1983/land-use issues.  I'll leave those cases to this guy.

Mayfield v. USA, No. 07-35865 (9th Cir. Dec. 10, 2009) (here) is a nice primer on standing in civil rights cases.  (Sure, it's not a Section 1983 case, which is self-evident in the case caption.  By definition, a case against the United States cannot be a Section 1983 claim.)  Still, lots of good stuff await:

In this appeal, we must decide whether Plaintiffs-Appellees Brandon Mayfield, a former suspect in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and his family, have standing to seek declaratory relief against the United States that several provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) as amended by the PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Although Mayfield settled the bulk of his claims against the government, the settlement agreement allowed him to pursue his Fourth Amendment claim. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, the only relief available to Mayfield, if he were to prevail on his Fourth Amendment claim, is a declaratory judgment. He may not seek injunctive relief. We hold that, in light of the limited remedy available to Mayfield, he does not have standing to pursue his Fourth Amendment claim because his injuries already have been substantially redressed by the settlement agreement, and a declaratory judgment would not likely impact him or his family. We thus vacate the judgmentof the district court.
Read the whole thing here.



6:59 PM

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Fed Courts Professor