Few procedural issues have commanded more attention from the Supreme Court in recent years than standing. The question of who is a proper party to bring a particular claim has arisen in a variety of contexts, but the Court has been especially active in addressing standing problems in cases concerning allegations of housing discrimination. The recent decision of Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood marked the fifth time in the past decade that the justices have decided a fair housing case on standing grounds.
The Supreme Court's determination to emphasize standing issues in many of its early fair housing opinions means that these issues will be the focus of substantial litigation in the coming years. Therefore, it is essential that the problems in this area be understood and that some systematic and rational approach to their resolution be developed. This article is intended to be a contribution to that effort. The heart of the article is a detailed review of the five standing opinions produced thus far by the Supreme Court in fair housing cases. This discussion leads to a number of conclusions about the current state of the law and about the significant problems that remain to be solved. The types of claims and the types of claimants that may occur in housing discrimination suits are categorized in order to develop an overall approach to standing issues in this field. The basic question that underlies the entire article is whether a general rule-such as one that would recognize standing in any plaintiff who is injured in any way as a result of a fair housing violation-can be an appropriate and meaningful guide for deciding specific cases in this field or whether, since "[g]eneralizations about standing to sue are largely worthless as such," each individual case or type of case must be governed by its own rules.
Robert G. Schwemm, Standing to Sue in Fair Housing Cases, 41 Ohio St. L.J. 1 (1980).