Ripeness and Political Questions

The doctrines of standing and of the exhaustion of administrative remedies are two very important principles that should be strictly followed in law for the best interest of justice. The ‘doctrine of standing’ in essence provides that a person who commences litigation or who brings a suit in court should have the legal standing to do so. The person who sues in court should be the proper party in the proceeding for the case to prosper.

A person who has no standing to sue in court would only waste the time and effort of the court personnel and of the other party by harassing the other. It can also be said that a person who has no standing to sue does not have a real legal controversy that would warrant the initiation of a proper proceeding for the settlement of a bona fide issue. This doctrine contemplates a situation wherein the party who brings an action in court is the one who is injured by the act of the other party and the former now seeks legal remedies to address his grievances.

A party who merely initiates a proceeding for the purpose of harassing the other is not a proper party and the case brought by such person should be dismissed. It may be the case that a person who has a legal standing to sue is not just one individual, a person may also sue in behalf of other persons if such is allowed under the law. An example would be a class suit or class action brought by a person as the representative of the group such as a taxpayer’s suit.

This is allowed under the law and that person is considered as a person with legal standing. One of the elements of this doctrine is that the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact. When a person who brings a suit in court fails to show that he has in fact suffered an injury, chances are the court would dismiss the case for lack of cause of action. This is an important principle because it would allow the court to handle cases which are worthy of their time and effort since there really is an issue to be resolved.

The determination of the issue on legal standing would serve as a deterrent for people to bring unnecessary cases in court. The ‘doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies’ is also an important rule in law. The doctrine provides that the courts would not accept any case wherein it shows that there are still administrative remedies that could be exhausted. For example, the court would not accept a case which could still be resolved by a particular department of the government which has expertise on the subject matter.

The bringing of the subject matter in court is the last option that the parties to the case should consider. The expertise of the department considered would first be used to resolve the issue and only when it can be shown that all efforts have proved to be futile would the court be called upon to make a determination on the case. This is a practical solution to resolve cases. One advantage that our legal system can obtain from this is that the court dockets would not be clogged and the parties would be assured that their cases are being handled by the best people.

Further, this doctrine also illustrates the principle of separation of powers of the government. Although it can be argued that these doctrines prevent a litigant from having easy access to the courts, these doctrines admit of exceptions. For example, the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies allows a party to directly file a case in court where the issue involves a political question or lack of due process. Our laws always seek to justice and would bend some rules if strict adherence thereto would prove to be contrary to the ideals of justice.

These doctrines were made to ensure that the courts would not be used as a tool to make a mockery out of justice. These doctrines are safeguards of the people for the speedy and just resolution of cases that involve real controversy by proper parties.


Constitutional Limitations on Judicial Power: Standing, Mootness, Ripeness and Political Questions Doctrines. Exploring Constitutional Conflicts. Retrieved on April 29, 2009 from website http://www. law. umkc. edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/caseorcontroversy. htm.