—Stefanus Hendrianto, University of Notre Dame
The issue of standing appears to be relatively marginal in comparative constitutional law, because comparative constitutional scholars tend to see standing as a technical issue. For instance, in analyzing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt, many legal analysts have missed an important aspect of the case; the question of standing, which became one of the central arguments in Justice Thomas’s dissent. Hellerstedt raises an important discussion on standing from a comparative constitutional law perspective. More importantly, it raises bigger issues of judicial role.
One of the central concerns of Justice Thomas in his dissent was that the majority did not question whether doctors and abortion clinics should be allowed to sue on behalf of Texas women seeking abortions. In Justice Thomas’s view, the Court allowed abortion clinics and doctors to invoke a constitutional right that did not belong to them. Justice Thomas thus raised an issue of third party standing. In the U.S. constitutional realm, a principle generally prevents standing when the asserted harm is a generalized grievance shared by all or a large class of citizens. This principle prevents an individual from challenging a statute by asserting someone else’s constitutional rights. Justice Thomas argues that the Court has shown a particular willingness to undercut restrictions on third party standing when the right to abortion is at stake.
From a comparative constitutional law perspective, third party standing is not uncommon. There are variety terms to describe this mechanism such as actio popularis, jus tertii, or public interest standing. In many jurisdictions, anyone regardless of his or her own injury may file a challenge to a law that affects the public at large. In Israel, the Supreme Court has adopted the view that when the claim alleges a major violation of the rule of law (in its broad sense), every person in Israel has legal standing to sue. The Indian Supreme Court has been well-known for developing procedural rules for third party standing since the 1970s. The Indonesian Constitutional Court in its infancy ruled that anyone could come to the Court as a taxpayer, public defender  and has even held that every citizen has standing to raise constitutional issues.