Third party standing. A corporation has standing to bring suit in behalf of the real party in interest where:

1) the real party in interest has standing

2) there is a relationship between the named plaintiff and the real party in interest and

3) there are impediments, such as numerosity or economic barriers, to the real party in interest bringing suit in its own behalf.

  • Real party in interest. The purchasers of videos have a First Amendment right to purchase pornographic material. As purchasers, the customers would not be subject to fine or imprisonment. But the material would probably not be available to customers for rental or purchase. Therefore, customers are harmed by the ordinance.
  • Relationship. Videorama and the purchasers have a contractual or business relationship.
  • Impediment. No single video renter or purchaser has a sufficient economic stake to pursue his rights in court. Further, the number of purchasers of tapes make it unwieldy for them to bring suit individually. Therefore, there are impediments to the real party in interest bringing suit.

    Therefore, Videorama has third party standing to assert the First Amendment rights of its customers.


If Videorama filed suit in federal courtJusticiability

Article II, Section 3, limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to actual cases and controversies. This requires, in addition to standing, discussed above:

  • Mootness. A suit is moot when the court’s judgment will no longer provide relief to the claimant before the court. Here, the ordinance was just passed and the difficulty of buying sexually explicit videos is still in the future. Therefore the suit is not moot.
  • Ripeness. A suit is ripe when both the claims and the parties are clearly identified. Here, Videorama and the First Amendment issue are clearly identified.
  • Advisory opinion. Federal courts are prevented from simply giving an opinion on the constitutionality of a law, or declaratory relief. However, where the claimant in court is threatened with imminent harm, the suit is an actual controversy and not an advisory opinion. Here, Videorama is threatened with economic penalties for every video it sells.

    Therefore, the suit is not an advisory opinion.

    Conclusion: if suit is filed in federal court, it would meet justiciability requirements.

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