What’s at stake

“In the law, as in everything, excellence is rare and often anonymous. And, in the law, as in almost everything, everything is stories. Under the American Constitution, in fact, everything is required to be, at heart, a story. That is the meaning of the phrase ‘cases and controversies,’ which is what, alone, the Constitution empowers the courts to consider. The courts may not, that is, consider abstractions, generalizations, even hypothetical cases; they may not render what are called ‘advisory opinions’ as to the legality of any possible situation or contemplated act. The courts may only consider concrete, instant cases that actually, concretely come before them—and even those cases can be brought only by those who have ‘standing’ to bring them, in other words, by the actual participants, with the most vital and demonstrable interest in the case. I may not bring suit, in short, because I think someone has done some injury to my neighbor. Only my neighbor himself can bring that suit. So what comes before the court is of necessity, and constitutionally obliged to be, a story; and the only ones permitted to bring the story to the courts’ attention, the only storytellers, are the ones to whom the story happened, whom the facts befell.” – Renata Adler, Pitch Dark

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