As noted in my post earlier today, the Virginia Legislature has enacted a law that eliminates, for that state, the dispute underlying the U.S. Supreme Court case of Mathena v. Malvo, No. 18-217. There is no doubt that the case should now be removed from the Supreme Court’s docket, leaving the issue to be decided in another case. It does matter how this is done, however.
Virginia had successfully asked the Court to take up the case to decide this question:
Did the Fourth Circuit err in concluding that a decision of this Court (Montgomery) addressing whether a new constitutional rule announced in an earlier decision (Miller) applies retroactively on collateral review is properly interpreted as modifying and substantially expanding the very rule whose retroactivity was in question?
Virginia then proceeded to argue that the answer is “no.” That is correct, in my opinion, and it remains correct despite the legislative change mooting the underlying question. Why should this erroneous precedent stand until the Supreme Court is able to decide the issue in another case?
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