By John W. Curran | 62 Am. U. L. Rev. 739 (2013)

In Grayson v. AT&T Corp. (Grayson II), the District of Columbia Court of Appeals sitting en banc held that a D.C. statute that purportedly granted individuals standing without suffering an injury-in-fact did not actually do so. The court rested on tenuous grounds and held as a matter of statutory interpretation and legislative history that the D.C. Council did not make explicit its intent to overrule years of the court’s standing requirements. In doing so, the court avoided a clear opportunity to answer the question of whether the Article III case-or-controversy requirement applies in D.C. courts.

Long-established precedent holds that Article III standing requirements do not apply in state courts and courts of the territories. The local D.C. court system is an anomaly in the United States because it is intended to function as a state court system, but D.C.’s unique nature as a federal enclave implicates constitutional issues that do not encumber state courts. Section 11-705(b) of the D.C. Code appears to be an inconspicuous section governing the logistical administration of the D.C. Court of Appeals, but courts have interpreted its language that “[c]ases and controversies shall be heard and determined by divisions of the court” to statutorily incorporate Article III standing requirements into the D.C. courts. This Note addresses the question that the D.C. Court of Appeals avoided: Does the D.C. Code statutorily incorporate Article III standing requiremnets?

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