Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Covid/Second Amendment case fizzles out on appeal

This case lies at the intersection of two current-events stories: Covid and guns. That's right, Covid and guns. 

The case is Connecticut Citizens Defense League v. Lamont, issued on July 28. When Covid-19 began infecting the country in early 2020, the Connecticut governor empowered police agencies to refuse collecting fingerprints of applicants seeking authorization for firearms. Without fingerprinting, you can't get a firearm. Hence, this lawsuit under the Second Amendment. This has all the makings of a great lawsuit, as the district court ordered the state to resume fingerprinting services. But, it turns out, the district court had no jurisdiction to even resolve the case because the case became moot in the district court and the plaintiff-organization lacked standing to bring the case. So it all fizzles out without a definitive ruling from the Court of Appeals. 

The reason for the fingerprinting suspension was to prevent the spread of Covid, and to allow the police to focus on dealing with the public health crisis. But before the district court issued the injunction against the suspension, the police-chief defendants resumed fingerprinting at their departments, and the governor then decided to repeal the suspension entirely. 

What it all means is the case was moot before the district court ruled on the injunction motion. It's hard to get around this, as the courts will not presume the government will resume unlawful rules that it had rescinded. 

What also kills off the appeal is the Court of Appeals' finding that the plaintiff-organization lacks standing to bring the case. Yet, we have organizational standing to sue on behalf of its members, but it has to show that it diverted its activities in challenging the rules. While the organization says it lobbied against the suspension rules and communicated with its members on the issue, it has to show current activities, however. The organization cannot show any current activities. As such, no standing.

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