Mootness Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Mootness doctrine is a principle of judicial procedure whereby American courts will not decide moot cases that is, cases in which there is no longer any actual controversy. The inability of the federal judiciary to review moot cases derives from the requirement of U.S. Const. art. III under which the exercise of judicial power depends upon the existence of a case or controversy. Therefore the courts will not hear or decide a case unless it includes an issue that is not considered moot because it involves the public interest or constitutional questions.

De Funis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (U.S. 1974), is an example of a case where the court dismissed the case as moot. Petitioner student commenced action against respondent law school contending that the procedures and criteria employed by respondent invidiously discriminated against him on account of his race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV. During the pendency of the case, the petitioner was provisionally admitted to the school. Later the court held that the case had been rendered moot as the petitioner was scheduled to complete his law studies regardless of the decision of the court and therefore vacated an order that found that respondent law school's admissions procedures were not unconstitutional.