Federal appeals court throws out ‘moot’ decision on under 21 gun sales

Federal appeals court throws out ‘moot’ decision on under 21 gun sales

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Wednesday vacated its opinion in a guns rights case, finding the challenge now moot. Plaintiff Natalia Marshall sued to challenge a law that prevented her from buying a firearm when she was under 21. The appeals court ruled that the law violated the Second Amendment and was unconstitutional. However, Marshall turned 21 “after the opinion issued but before the mandate.” The court held that Marshall’s age makes her claims moot. According to Judge Richardson, Marshall attempted to “add parties and reframe her claimed injuries, [but] it is too late to revive this case.” In the US, the Constitution allows courts to hear only cases and controversies. When “the issues presented are longer ‘live’ or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome” of a claim, there is no case or controversy, and the claim is moot. The new ruling by the appeals court vacates its own opinion and remands the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss. Judge Wynn concurred in Richardson’s opinion but wrote separately to emphasize the vacated opinion must have “no legal value” although it may be widely available “thanks to today’s technology.” Wynn acknowledged that the Fourth Circuit may hear a similar case in the future, but “these vacated opinions have no persuasive value whatsoever as to how this Court would decide the issue.”

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