• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that payment of taxes does not establish the standing to sue necessary to challenge the constitutionality of congressional spending statutes.

Harriet Frothingham filed suit as a federal taxpayer to prevent the secretary of the treasury from spending money under the Maternity Act of 1921, which provided grants to the states for programs designed to reduce maternal and infant mortality. She alleged that the statute violated the Tenth Amendment and that it also deprived taxpayers of property without due process of law.Taxing and spending clause;Frothingham v. Mellon[Frothingham v. Mellon]

By a 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the suit was not a legitimate judicial controversy because Frothingham lacked standing to sue. Justice George SutherlandSutherland, George;Frothingham v. Mellon[Frothingham v. Mellon] reasoned that the plaintiff in the case would have to show an immediate and direct personal injury from the enforcement of the statute and not merely a remote and uncertain interest shared with all taxpayers. Sutherland wrote that a taxpayer of a municipality would have the necessary standing to sue, but he did not mention possible taxpayer challenges to spending by the states. The Court substantially modified the rule against federal taxpayer standing in Flast v. Cohen[case]Flast v. Cohen[Flast v. Cohen] (1968).

Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township

Federalism

Flast v. Cohen

Richardson, United States v.

Separation of powers

Standing

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