One of the more esoteric (arguably boring) concepts in law is the idea of “standing”—that is, what kinds of disputes the Constitution allows courts to consider, and who can bring them. To put it another way, “standing” is about whether someone is allowed to sue someone else in the first place. However, standing to sue is often directly tied to whether someone’s rights are protected by law.
The new abortion law that took effect in Texas on September 1, 2021, is controversial for many reasons. This article focuses on just one of those reasons: the law is enforced through a “bounty” provision that may allow anyone, anywhere, to sue someone for knowingly aiding or abetting—or even just intending to aid or abet—an abortion more than six weeks into a pregnancy. The plaintiff in that situation can win a bounty of $10,000 plus costs and attorneys’ fees. This article places that provision in context with the rules of standing for qui tam whistleblowers and other employment claims to point out just how much of a sea change it represents.