Nothing to Stand On: “Offended Observers” and the Ten Commandments

The Supreme Court could end many Establishment Clause disputes by enforcing Article III standing requirements on those bringing the lawsuits, who many times have no more stake in the issues than being “offended observers.” Those who oppose governmental acknowledgement of religion virtually ignore standing
requirements imposed by the Constitution as pesky obstacles that only distract them from reaching the more interesting Establishment Clause issues. Yet, no federal court should reach the substantive issues unless the parties clearly have standing. For example, the Supreme Court could have resolved the two Ten Commandments cases by ruling that all of the “offended observers” who brought the lawsuits lacked standing to come into federal court in the first place. In both instances the plaintiffs did not present an Article III “case” or “controversy” according to the Court’s standing requirements—they alleged indignation and nothing more....