109 Iowa L. Rev. 299 (2023)



Recent Supreme Court decisions have tightened standing doctrine. These decisions endanger innumerable statutes that allow for “statutory damages,” i.e., damages in a fixed amount that a plaintiff may recover without proving actual damages. This Article explores how Congress could use a device known as a “qui tam action” to provide plaintiffs with the equivalent of statutory damages in cases that would be barred by the Supreme Court’s new standing restrictions. The Article examines this mechanism in detail and defends it against attacks that would likely arise if Congress put it to work. The Article explains that qui tam plaintiffs would have standing because the qui tam mechanism allows the United States, which always has standing to enforce federal law, to delegate its standing to private plaintiffs. The Article also defends qui tam actions against the assertion that they improperly interfere with the President’s Article II authority. Qui tam actions, the Article concludes, would be an effective legislative workaround for the Supreme Court’s newly restrictive standing doctrine.

Thursday, November 16, 2023