United States v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP)
412 U.S. 669 (1973)
The Interstate Commerce
Commission (ICC) controlled the rates that railroads could charge to move
freight. They changed their rate structure in a way that favored the
shipping of raw materials over recycled materials.
SCRAP sued for an injunction
claiming that the change was in violation of the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA).
SCRAP argued that the change
made recycled materials less valuable, which made it harder to organize
The Trial Court granted the
injunction. The ICC appealed.
The ICC argued that SCRAP
did not have standing to sue. In
generally courts had held that in order to have standing, you have to show that the plaintiff has
suffered an actual harm (aka injury-in-fact). Members of SCRAP weren't involved in the
recycling or shipping business, and so they had nothing to lose or gain
SCRAP argued that they were
injured because if there was less recycling more people would simply
throw trash in the street and members of SCRAP would be saddened by the
aesthetic damage they would be forced to look at.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court found
that SCRAP's aesthetic injury was enough to establish standing to bring a lawsuit.
The Court agreed that
SCRAP's members had "alleged a specific and perceptible harm that
distinguished them from other citizens who had not used the natural
resources that were claimed to be affected."
In a dissent it was argued
that "the alleged injuries are so remote, speculative, and
insubstantial in fact that they fail to confer standing."
Until this case, injury-in-fact was generally limited to economic interests.
But in this decision the US Supreme Court found that aesthetic interests
can be enough to establish standing.
This was the high-water mark
of standing for public interest
Once Justice Scalia was
appointed to the US Supreme Court, it became harder to establish standing.
See Lujan v. National
Wildlife Federal (497 U.S. 871