Flanigan's Enterprises, Inc. of Georgia v. City of Sandy Springs
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the repeal of a city ordinance that prohibited the sale of sexual devices rendered an adult bookstore's claims for declaratory and injunctive relief, moot. The City of Sandy Springs adopted the ordinance in 2009, criminalizing the commercial distribution of obscene materials. Shortly thereafter, a group of local adult businesses brought a legal challenge to the ordinance under a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim. The city moved for judgment on the pleadings which was granted by the district court.
On appeal, a panel of the 11th Circuit found that the district court had committed no reversable error and affirmed. On March 14, 2017, the 11th Circuit voted to grant a rehearing en banc and the panel opinion was vacated. Subsequently, the city voted to repeal the ordinance and filed a motion to dismiss for mootness. The appellants speculated that the city could just re-adopt such an ordinance and insisted on the litigation continue. The court held that a dispute concerning mootness must involve more than speculation and, in this case, the city had specifically disavowed re-adopting such an ordinance. The court also noted that the city had offered persuasive explanations as to their process and reasoning in repealing the ordinance. The court held that they only had the power to adjudicate ongoing cases or controversies and that was no longer present in this case.