The term "separation of powers" does not appear in either the United States or Ohio Constitutions, but the concept has important implications for the adjudication of rights under both documents. In federal courts, litigants must possess certain characteristics, summarized under the rubric of "standing," to pursue such cases. To have standing, litigants traditionally must have suffered a concrete and ripe injury that was the result of the allegedly unlawful conduct. And even when those criteria are satisfied, cases that call for "political questions" to be resolved can be dismissed by federal judges. These limits to federal court authority are drawn not only from the separation of powers doctrine, but particularly from the requirement in Article III of the U.S. Constitution that federal courts may only adjudicate "cases" or "controversies." Most Ohio courts have followed these standing requirements as well, but in several recent cases the Ohio Supreme Court has departed from federal doctrine and lowered the thresholds of justiciability. Part II of this Essay summarizes the standing requirements and the political question doctrine in the federal courts. Part III of the Essay then turns to Ohio jurisprudence, and discusses two Ohio Supreme Court decisions, State ex rel. Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers v. Sheward, and State ex rel. Ohio AFL-CIO v. Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, in which court majorities permitted cases raising state, and federal, constitutional law issues to proceed with plaintiffs who probably did not satisfy traditional standing requirements. Part IV of the Essay turns to the political question doctrine.


Symposium: The Ohio Constitution - Then and Now: An Examination of the Law and History of the Ohio Constitution on the Occasion of Its Bicentennial