It’s back to the circuit court with an Illinois Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Firearm Owners Identification card.
In 2017, Vivian Brown, an elderly resident of White County, was charged with violating the FOID card law when she had a rifle in her home without possessing a FOID card. Her attorneys said that violates the Second Amendment, arguing “the second amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and that this right is at its ‘most acute’ in the home.”
In February 2018, the White County Circuit Court sided with Brown and found the FOID card law unconstitutional when applied to her case. The state appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court a few months later.
The Illinois Supreme Court released its split ruling on Thursday. The majority opinion didn’t make a decision on the constitutionality of the law in Brown’s case, but instead cited a court rule calling into question the process the circuit court used.
“We must, therefore, vacate the court’s finding of unconstitutionality and remand the cause to the circuit court to enter a modified judgment order that excludes that finding,” said the majority opinion penned by Chief Justice Anne Burke. She was joined by Justices Thomas Killbride, Rita Garman and P. Scott Neville.
Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said the state’s high court punted.
“What they did was they decided that they didn’t want to decide, so they sent it back to the circuit court,” Pearson said.
He said he expected the case to end up back at the Illinois Supreme Court.
The dissenting justices called the majority opinion “pointless.”
“Neither the parties nor the interests of justice will be served by this unexpected and pointless exercise,” Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in a dissenting opinion. He was joined in his dissent by Justice Mary Jane Theis. “Remand to the circuit court to enter a new order dismissing the case on statutory rather than constitutional grounds is a meaningless and wasteful act.”
Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois Executive Director Todd Vandermyde also said the state’s high court didn’t make a decision.
“They didn’t make a finding one way or the other,” Vandermyde said. “And as I read this I think the FOID card act is on life support. I think they went out of the way to not address the constitutional issues raised in this case.”