United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
July 26, 2004.
JOSEPH E. CARLIN, Plaintiff,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT KELLY, Senior District Judge
Presently pending before this Court is the Motion to Dismiss of
Defendant United States of America ("United States"). For the
following reasons, the United States' Motion will be granted.
Joseph E. Carlin ("Carlin") filed a pro se Complaint against
the United States on April 16, 2004. The two-Count Complaint
revolves around the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (the
"Act"). 18 U.S.C. § 1841; 10 U.S.C. § 919a. The Act provides that
any person who violates certain laws and "thereby causes the
death of, or bodily injury . . . to, a child, who is in utero at
the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate
offense. . . ." 18 U.S.C. § 1841(a)(1); 10 U.S.C. § 919a(a)(1).
Significantly, for purposes of this case, the Act excludes
prosecution "for conduct relating to an abortion for which the
consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to
act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is
implied by law." ("Section (c)(1)"). 18 U.S.C. § 1841(c)(1);
10 U.S.C. § 919a(c)(1). As previously mentioned, Carlin raises two Counts in his
Complaint. In Count I, Carlin requests that this Court repeal
Section (c)(1) based on the claim that this provision is
allegedly in "direct contradiction with The Act itself."
Moreover, in Count II of his Complaint, Carlin asks this Court to
repeal the United States Supreme Court's decision in Roe v.
Wade based on the contention that the Act allegedly supersedes
this case. 410 U.S. 113 (1973). The United States filed the
instant Motion for Dismiss on June 18, 2004. The United States
argues that this action is appropriate for dismissal pursuant to
Rules 12(b)(1)*fn1 and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. Carlin filed a Response to the present Motion on
June 24, 2004.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Carlin has filed a pro se action in this Court. As an initial
matter, on a motion to dismiss, the district court must construe
a pro se plaintiff's allegations liberally and apply a less
stringent standard to the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff than
to a complaint prepared by an attorney. Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
"Challenges to plaintiff's standing to sue are jurisdictional
and are considered under Rule 12(b)(1)." In re Walnut Leasing
Co., Inc., No. 99-526, 1999 WL 729267, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 8,
1999). Rule 12(b)(1) permits a court to dismiss an action for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1).
"[F]or purposes of ruling on a motion to dismiss for want for
standing . . . `the trial court . . . must accept as true all
allegations of the complaint, and must construe the complaint in
favor of the complaining party.'" McGrath v. Johnson,
67 F. Supp.2d 499, 505 (E.D. Pa. 1999) (quoting Warth v. Seldin,
422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975)).
The United States has moved to dismiss Carlin's Complaint for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under
Rule 12(b)(6). This Court agrees with the United States' argument
that Carlin lacks standing to pursue his claims in federal court.
Thus, dismissal of the action is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(1).
This Court finds it unnecessary to address the United States'
Rule 12(b)(6) argument because dismissal is appropriate on the
The jurisdictional reach of the federal courts extends only to
"cases" and "controversies" pursuant to Article III of the United
States Constitution. U.S. CONST. art. III, § 2; Allen v.
Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750 (1984). In order to establish standing
in a federal court "[a] plaintiff must allege personal injury
fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct
and likely to be redressed by the requested relief." Allen, 468
U.S. at 751. In the area of standing, the United States Supreme
Court "has consistently stressed that a plaintiff's complaint
must establish that he has a `personal stake' in the alleged
dispute, that the alleged injury suffered is particularized as to
him." Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811, 819 (1997). Finally, it is
well established that an "abstract injury" or "generalized
grievance" is insufficient to meet the requisite standing
requirements. Streater v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., No. 95-2162,
1996 WL 134807, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 25, 1996).
In this case, Carlin has not alleged that he has suffered any
particularized personal injury in relation to the claims in his
Complaint. In essence, through his Complaint, Carlin simply
voices his disapproval of Section (c)(1) of the Act and offers
his own viewpoint on the Act's impact on United States Supreme Court precedent. These
general grievances and opinions relating to the Act and its
influence on the law are insufficient to establish standing in
this Court. Streater, 1996 WL 134807, at *4. Carlin has failed
to allege any personal injury related to the allegations in his
Complaint that would give him standing to continue with his
claims in this Court. Thus, Carlin's Complaint must be dismissed
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because the jurisdictional requirement
of standing is lacking in this case.
For the reasons set forth above, this Court finds that Carlin
lacks standing to proceed with his claims in this Court. Thus,
dismissal of Carlin's claims is appropriate pursuant to
An appropriate Order follows. ORDER
AND NOW, this 26th day of July, 2004, upon consideration
of the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 4), and the
Plaintiff's Response thereto, it is hereby ORDERED that the
Motion is GRANTED and the case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The Clerk of Court is hereby directed to mark this case as