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FAA Only One Left Standing in Tug of War Over Federal Funding
Description Illinois DOT appeal of FAA diversion of federal funding to Indiana dismissed because DOT interest deemed "too vague" to constitute standing to sue by Court of Appeals.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Standing, Substantial Interest
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Federal Aviation Administration collects a "passenger facility charge" on commercial airline travelers that it allocates to improve the airport from which a passenger departed "any other airport the agency controls." The FAA decided to use $1.45 million collected at O'Hare Airport (owned by the City of Chicago) to finance improvements at the Gary (Indiana) Regional Airport. The Gary airport handles some of the freight and passenger traffic that O'Hare and other area airports are too busy to handle. The Illinois DOT appealed the FAA decision, claiming that the funds could not be spent at the Gary airport.
Court of Appeals Decision Dismissed. Illinois DOT does not have standing. Judicial review is authorized at the behest of a party who has a "substantial interest" in an FAA order. Article III of the Constitution holds there is "an interest in protection against injury." The revenues collected by the FAA are under its control. The state of Illinois has no control over those revenues. DOT contends it has an interest in the matter because it has transportation "planning" responsibilities. This is too vague for it to claim an interest in a small amount of federal funding. "Such an agency would be no different from the kind of do-good or trade association routinely denied standing despite claiming a 'special interest' in the private litigation of others." "The main contemporary reason for having rules of standing ... is to prevent kibitzers, bureaucrats, publicity seekers, and 'cause' mongers from wresting control of litigation from the people directly affected." The City and the airports did not complain about the allocation of the FAA money; the "interest" expressed by the DOT is "wholly speculative."
Citation Illinois Dept. of Transportation v. Hinson, ---F.3d--- (1997 WL 441658; 7th Cir.)
122 F 3d 370 (7th Cir., 1997)

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