Document Type



Judicial actions by private citizens have played a critical role in the development and enforcement of federal environmental law in the United States over several decades. The courts' general receptivity to the standing of private environmental plaintiffs has made that role possible. A troika of Supreme Court decisions on standing in environmental cases authored by Scalia J over the last decade had eroded that general receptivity, casting doubt on the continued vitality of private actions in developing and implementing environmental law. The Court's recent decision in Friends of the Earth Inc v Laidlaw Environmental Services halts this erosion. To explain the significance of the decision, this analysis begins with discussions of the role of citizen litigation in American jurisprudence and the Court's recent opinions regarding standing in such cases.