Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court released a 4-3 decision to decline ruling on whether Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification Act is unconstitutional.
This is the second time that the Court has seen the case of the People v. Vivian Brown and the second time the court has chosen to not rule on the constitutionality of state’s FOID Act, which requires Illinoisans to receive a permit to legally own a gun.
The majority opinion contended that the White County Circuit Court did not adhere to the Supreme Court’s previous 2020 ruling in the case and that the lower court had no authority to reconsider the case after that ruling. This decision once again vacated the circuit court’s ruling that the FOID Act was unconstitutional.
The People v. Vivian Brown case started when Vivian Claudine Brown was charged in 2017 with possession of a firearm without a FOID card after police responded to a call that she had fired a gun in her home. While police didn’t find evidence that she fired the rifle they found at the home, they decided to charge her for possession.
That led to the Circuit Court in White County ruling that the fees and forms required to receive a FOID imposed an unconstitutional burden on Brown’s Second Amendment right to keep a firearm in her own home. Additionally, the circuit judge issued an alternative ruling without the prompting from Brown’s legal team that the Illinois General Assembly did not intend to apply the FOID Act in the home because that would have meant anybody with knowledge of a firearm and exclusive control over the area where it was kept could be construed as possessing the gun.
Because of this alternative ruling, the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision vacated the original order and sent the case back down to the lower court in White County. There, Brown’s legal team filed a motion to reconsider, which was granted by the circuit judge. After charges were reinstated, Brown’s attorneys filed a new motion to dismiss on constitutional grounds, which the judge upheld. This led to an appeal from the state, sending the case back to the Illinois Supreme Court.