Just Say No to Activist Lawyer-Standing

Press Releases

December 20, 2022

IRLI brief shows the faulty logic of a ‘ridiculous lawsuit’

On December 12, IRLI submitted, and requested permission to file, a friend-of-the-court brief in the DC federal district court urging it to deny an injunction sought by an activist legal group against a federal alien detention center. The lawyer-plaintiffs complain that their detained clients have insufficient access to their attorneys, in part because those attorneys’ offices are too far from the detention center to make in-person visits convenient. The aliens these attorneys represent, however, are not suing over this alleged problem; rather, the lawyers represent themselves as plaintiffs.

In its brief, IRLI takes issue with the novel theory of “third party standing” the lawyers say lets them sue “on behalf of” their own clients and possible future clients, even though these current clients have refused to become plaintiffs in their own lawsuits represented by these same (free) lawyers. If the court recognizes such standing, it would allow activist lawyers’ groups such as the plaintiffs to set themselves up as tribunes of detained aliens nationwide, and bombard the courts with lawsuits, at will, over every aspect of the detention system.

“This is a ridiculous lawsuit,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “In our system, lawyers represent clients, and clients determine what their own interests are. Lawyers certainly don’t have special standing to go into court themselves as plaintiffs, supposedly ‘on behalf of’ some group or other, and start a lawsuit over some problem they say exists. We hope the court clearly sees the glaring flaws of this theory, and throws this case out.”

The case is Americans for Immigrant Justice v. DHS, No. 1:22-cv-03118 (D.D.C.).

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.