Recently the US Supreme Court heard argument in Biden v. Nebraska, in which several states challenge the President’s authority to forgive student loans. Lost in much of the coverage was the administration’s challenge to the states’ standing to bring the case. “Standing” is a difficult concept to get your arms around. Courts cannot issue advisory opinions. Under Article III of the US Constitution, courts can decide only a “case or controversy.” That means the plaintiff must have a stake in the outcome different from the general public. To have standing, a plaintiff must have sustained or be threatened with an injury different from or in addition to the general public. The Biden administration argued that the states who sued would not suffer any injury because of Biden’s forgiveness of student loans, and therefore do not have standing to sue.
The concept of standing is important to the separation of powers in our federal and state judicial systems. It is a check on the power of courts. Nebraska could not simply ask the court to declare Biden’s loan forgiveness an unconstitutional exercise of executive power without first showing how the state would be injured by Biden’s action. Such an opinion would be an “advisory opinion.”
What does this have to do with Railroad Commission v. Apache?