Citizens can sue abortion providers for alleged violations, and plaintiffs will receive $10,000 from the accused if successful. The law also impacts anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion, which could potentially include a driver who unknowingly drove a woman to an abortion clinic.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/04/economy/companies-against-texas-abortion-law/index.html

If the source is correct, what is there a general rule of thumb or reasoning that determines who can / can not litigate for said $10K in a Texas court room? Is there Federal law that governs who has standing? or is it solely at the discretion of TX law? I am trying to understand: with respect to standing, is this a state decision or does national law somehow trump state law.

  • It appears to be bounty. Anyone who can prove violations can litigate.
    – Greendrake
    Sep 5 at 13:36

Standing requirements are different in state and federal courts, and from one state to the next. A random individual would not have standing to object to a stranger's abortion in federal court, and likely not in any state court, under normal circumstances, as they are not injured in any meaningful way by the abortion.

I don't know what the normal rules of standing are in Texas, but it is likely perfectly acceptable for the Legislature to wave its wand to grant standing to whomever it wants regarding any violation of the law it sees for. That seems to be what is happening here.


The legislature has the power to grant or limit standing

The common law on standing in each state is different depending on how the doctrine that a party must have sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case has played out in each state.

Notwithstanding, the legislature has the power to grant or limit standing as it chooses.

  • That's not true at the federal level. Per TransUnion v. Ramirez, federal standing requires a concrete injury of a sort traditionally viewed as providing a basis to sue. The legislature can create new injuries related to those (e.g. "you sent someone a credit report about me with false derogatory information" is similar-ish to defamation), but can't just create whatever injuries it wants (e.g. "you kept inaccurate records on me" without the claim that it was sent to third parties doesn't connect to traditional injuries).
    – cpast
    Sep 8 at 0:48

There is one caveat at federal level; one qui tam law was judged unconstitutional, because it completely removed the state from the equation in a criminal matter:

In 2011, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio held that the False Marking Statute was unconstitutional. Judge Dan Aaron Polster determined that it violated the Take Care Clause of Article II of the Constitution, because it represented "a wholesale delegation of criminal law enforcement power to private entities with no control exercised by the Department of Justice".

[Subsequently] The America Invents Act made significant changes to false marking laws, that affected all pending and future false marking actions:

Only the U.S. government can now sue for the civil penalty authorized in § 292 [...]

The better known False Claims Act procedure mandates that the government actually be (first) notified of the lawsuit and not the actual defendant.

So there are some constitutionally derived limits how far standing can be extended to random parties, at least in some matters.

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