This past week, Professor Joan Steinman’s “Spokeo, Where Shalt Thou Stand?” was included in Vanderbilt Law Review’s En Banc Roundtable discussing Spokeo, Inc v. Robins. Prof. Steinman joined IIT Chicago-Kent’s faculty in 1977, has served as interim dean, and has authored numerous articles on class actions, suits for money damages to vindicate First Amendment rights, and law of the case doctrine, among many others.
“Spokeo, Where Shalt Thou Stand?” opens with the following:
“Spokeo” has such a Shakespearean sound that I felt compelled to ask a question worthy of the name: thus, “Where shalt thou stand?” This essay analyzes three distinct issues raised by Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins and considers where the Court will stand on each of them. First, I consider whether the Court will decide the question on which it granted certiorari: “[w]hether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute?” I explain why the Court might dismiss its writ of certiorari as improvidently granted. Second, I address whether Spokeo, Inc. or Robins has the better of the argument concerning Robins’ standing to sue. I opine that the Court’s decisions regarding standing in disputes concerning informational rights and wrongs indicate that it should find that the injury alleged by Robins is sufficiently concrete to confer Article III standing, and that Robins also satisfies prudential standing doctrines. Finally, I argue that the Court should not be dissuaded from so holding by the fact that the suit was brought as a class action.