Friday, May 23, 2008

Litigating Against Subsidies: Bleg

My last post on agriculture subsidies got me wondering, particularly in combination with my support of judicial "activism" in the sense of overturning laws. The question I was wondering about is this: Has there ever been an attempt to overturn pork barrel spending through a lawsuit where the basis for the suit was the spending's non-budgetary consequences?

The last part of this question is the important part. There have been numerous attempts to overturn various government programs in the past; however, they almost never work because the person suing the government rarely has legal standing to sue (the courts have repeatedly found no standing where the basis for standing is the plaintiff's status as a taxpayer). What I am not aware of, however, is a situation in which someone sued the government because the government's spending policy had a direct, negative effect on them.

Specifically, has there ever been an instance where the government was sued on the grounds that a subsidy had direct negative effects on a taxpayer in the form of higher costs? If so, was there standing? It's been a few years since I delved into that area of law, but I seem to recall precedent from law school that would suggest there would be standing.

If there is legal standing, then the second question would be: what causes of action, if any, would have the best chance of success in overturning agriculture subsidies?