CHICAGO (CN) -The National Rifle Association is entitled to attorneys’ fees for lawsuits over gun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill., the 7th Circuit ruled in a five-page opinion issued without hearing oral arguments.
After the Supreme Court overturned a Washington D.C. handgun ban in 2007 with District of Columbia v. Heller, the NRA challenged similar laws in Chicago and Oak Park.
Though “functionally the same” as those in Heller, the municipalities defended the ordinances by arguing that Second Amendment protections did not apply to the states.
An Illinois federal judge dismissed the suits, but the Supreme Court reversed last June when the NRA lost its appeal in the 7th Circuit. A majority of justices held that due process applies the Second Amendment to both states and municipalities.
Chicago and Oak Park repealed their ordinances shortly after the decision, and further litigation was ruled moot.
U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur in Chicago ultimately denied a request for attorneys’ fees, however, concluding that the NRA was not the “prevailing party” in the litigation.
7th Circuit disagreed Thursday.
“The district court was right to observe that plaintiffs did not receive a favorable judgment from it,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the panel. “But they did better: They won in the Supreme Court, which entered a judgment in their favor.”
Repealing the ordinances before a final judgment by the District Court does not shield the municipalities from liability.
“If a cessation of hostilities after a district court’s decision does not deprive the victor of prevailing-party status, why should conceding defeat after a decision by the Supreme Court do so?” Easterbrook wrote.
The amount of the attorneys’ fees will be determined by the District Court.