Those who satisfy the restrictive standing rules and are allowed through the federal courthouse doors have not cleared all the necessary hurdles. The standing doctrine is simply one of many obstacles erected by the Burger Court in the path of individuals seeking access to the federal courts to challenge the constitutionality of official conduct. An additional obstacle concerns the availability of injunctive relief.
An injunction is a court order directing a person to take certain action or to refrain from certain conduct. It has ancient roots in English practice. The English law courts were unable to grant effective relief in certain matters, and as a result, a practice developed that allowed individuals to petition the king directly, invoking his power to do justice. The petition was usually referred to the chancellor who could issue a decree directing a person to do, or not to do, a specific thing. Disobedience could be punished by imprisonment. The chancellors developed their own rules and practices separate from those existing in the law courts. As a general proposition, equitable relief--an injunction--was regarded as a privilege awarded in the chancellor's discretion and only when no adequate remedy was available in the law courts.1
This system of separating equitable proceedings and "actions at law" (those heard by the English law courts) was adopted in