Let’s make this hypothetical. Two U.S. states, East Lumbago and West Lumbago, which share a common border. It’s a First Amendment issue, specifically: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We’ll presume that it is settled law that state and local governments are held to these standards.
In East Lumbago, any organizer who wants to stage a group demonstration must apply for an assembly permit. The organizer must show a certificate that they have taken an East Lumbago-approved course in Safe Public Assembly and pass a background check that confirms that they have never been convicted of riot or other serious crimes related to demonstrations. All common-sense restrictions to protect the public. Any person who organizes a demonstration without a valid assembly permit is subject to arrest and imprisonment.
But here’s the kicker: under state law, East Lumbago assembly permits are only issued to residents of East Lumbago. If you live in West Lumbago or any other state, you can’t get an East Lumbago assembly permit, so if you go ahead and organize a demonstration, you’ll be arrested and prosecuted.
There have been grumbles about East Lumbago’s assembly permits, but the state makes a convincing argument that in the interest of public safety, the government must know about a demonstration in advance and take steps to prepare for it, and known, convicted troublemakers must lose the right to organize demonstrations for life. And the residency requirement? East Lumbago’s legislature, in the preamble to their public assembly law, spoke of the need to end the scourge on society of outside agitators and rabble rousers coming to their fair state and causing trouble, and for this reason, only East Lumbago residents are eligible to organize a demonstration.
West Lumbago activists and organizers feel that due solely to their residence in a state other than East Lumbago, they suffer unequal protection of their First Amendment right of assembly / petition by being denied assembly permits in East Lumbago. They ask their Attorney General to take the case directly to the Supreme Court on their behalf, since the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in all disputes between the states.
Does West Lumbago have standing? Is the abridgement of the civil rights of its residents when they travel to East Lumbago a sufficient cause of action for the Supreme Court to take up the case directly rather than going through the usual district court / circuit court / Supreme Court routine?
I'm aware that a state may act as parens patriae for its citizens by suing another state on environmental grounds or on economic grounds when the state has a demonstrable interest distinguishable from the interests of individual citizens for whom it is suing. But for a civil rights case? I'm just not sure and I'd like to know.