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FBI v. Fikre, 2024 U.S. LEXIS 1379 (S. Ct. March 19, 2024) (Gorsuch, J.).

Yonas Fikre, a U. S. citizen, brought suit alleging that the government placed him on the No Fly List unlawfully. Later, the government removed him from the list. The only question we are asked to decide is whether the government’s action suffices to render Mr. Fikre’s claims moot.

A defendant may not “automatically moot a case” by the simple expedient of suspending its challenged conduct after it is sued. Already, 568 U. S., at 91, 133 S. Ct. 721, 184 L. Ed. 2d 553. Instead, our precedents hold, a defendant’s “‘voluntary cessation of a challenged practice’” will moot a case only if the defendant can show that the practice cannot “‘reasonably be expected to recur.’” Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc., 528 U. S. 167, 189, 120 S. Ct. 693, 145 L. Ed. 2d 610 (2000); see United States v. W. T. Grant Co., 345 U. S. 629, 632-633, 73 S. Ct. 894, 97 L. Ed. 1303 (1953).

We have described this as a “formidable burden.” Friends of the Earth, 528 U. S., at 190, 120 S. Ct. 693, 145 L. Ed. 2d 610. And the reason for it is simple: “The Constitution deals with substance,” not strategies. Cummings v. Missouri, 71 U.S. 277, 4 Wall. 277, 325, 18 L. Ed. 356 (1867). Were the rule more forgiving, a defendant might suspend its challenged conduct after being sued, win dismissal, and later pick up where it left off; it might even repeat “this cycle” as necessary until it achieves all of its allegedly “unlawful ends.” Already, 568 U. S., at 91, 133 S. Ct. 721, 184 L. Ed. 2d 553. A live case or controversy cannot be so easily disguised, and a federal court’s constitutional authority cannot be so readily manipulated. To show that a case is truly moot, a defendant must prove “‘no reasonable expectation’” remains that it will “return to [its] old ways.” W. T. Grant Co., 345 U. S., at 632-633, 73 S. Ct. 894, 97 L. Ed. 1303. That much holds for governmental defendants no less than for private ones. See., e.g., West Virginia v. EPA, 597 U. S. 697, 719, 142 S. Ct. 2587, 213 L. Ed. 2d 896 (2022); Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U. S. 449, 457, n. 1, 137 S. Ct. 2012, 198 L. Ed. 2d 551 (2017); Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, 551 U. S. 701, 719-720, 127 S. Ct. 2738, 168 L. Ed. 2d 508 (2007).

Just because the government has not yet demonstrated that Mr. Fikre’s case is moot does not mean it will never be able to do so. This case comes to us in a preliminary posture, framed only by uncontested factual allegations and a terse declaration. As the case unfolds, the complaint’s allegations will be tested rather than taken as true, and different facts may emerge that may call for a different conclusion. That is a possibility courts must be alive to in this (and any) case, for a federal court’s duty to ensure itself of Article III jurisdiction may begin at the inception of a lawsuit, but it persists throughout the life of the proceedings. Spencer, 523 U. S., at 7, 118 S. Ct. 978, 140 L. Ed. 2d 43.