The Mere Busybody: Autonomy, Equality and Standing


  • Russell Binch



It is often believed that the application of standing principles has little bearing on the ideological constructs that have guided the development of public law. However, a few commentators have attempted to alter this belief by demonstrating that standing promotes an individual's capacity and right to further her or his personal autonomy, an ideal that is deep and pervasive in our culture. From this, they conclude that it is desirable to prevent public interest organizations from initiating litigation. While the insight that standing and autonomy are fundamentally connected is an important contribution, the conclusion — that this bars access for public interest organizations — disappointing. It fails to recognize that autonomy is often furthered by interdependence, and that the interdependent ties found in public interest organizations are of particular importance for disadvantaged persons. When we reconceive autonomy through the lens of equality, our understanding of standing is radically altered.