In the case of Office of Communications, United Church of Christ v. Federal Communications Commission (359 D.2d 994 (1966)), a church run television station was attempting to get their FCC license renewed. A number of community members opposed the renewal because the tv station was broadcasting a lot of racist propaganda. Initially, FCC would not allow them to participate in the license renewal process because FCC only allowed those who suffered interference of some monetary injury to have standing to join the proceeding.

  • The Appellate Court found that while standing in Federal Court is limited by Article III of the Constitution, an Administrative proceeding is not a court, and therefore is not bound by the same strict rules.
  • The Court found that anyone affected by the Agency’s decision should have standing to join the Administrative proceeding.
    • Since the purpose of an Administrative Agency is to function on behalf of the public interest, participation in hearings should be as broad as possible so that the Agency can best ascertain what the public interest is.
      • Note that this decision doesn’t mean that anyone can join the proceeding, they must have some linkage to the outcome before being granted standing.

After this case was decided, the Administrative Conference of the United States suggested the following factors in determining if someone has standing to intervene in an Agency proceeding:

  • The nature of the contested issues
  • The intervenor’s precise interest in the adjudication
  • The adequacy of representation of existing parties
  • The ability of the prospective intervenor to present new or additional information
  • The effect of intervention on the Agency’s implementation of its statutory mandate