The 4th Circuit Court in N. Carolina recently rejected the State’s appeal to overturn a district court ruling regarding the constitutionality of certain provisions in the state’s sex offender laws.
The basis of the arguement dealt with two subsections of the State statute regarding some, not all, sex offenders and the “restriction of their movement relative to certain locations where minors may be present.” This included public parks, streets, buildings, religious facilities, etc. Same old story we’ve heard time and time again, you can’t be anywhere kids may be, in a world full of kids. The statute is so vague that neither registrants nor law enforcement could determine with any certainty when being in a certain location crosses the boundary of being a “normal” activity to becoming a “criminal” activity. Once again, if they don’t know, meaning law enforcement, then how the heck are registrants supposed to know?
In Doe Vs. Cooper, 5 John Does collectively challenged the restrictions as being overbroad (under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) and unconstitutionally vague (under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution).
The State failed to produce any empirical evidence (social, scientific data or research) to support the need for restrictions of a certain subgroup of offenders. The State’s use of what they termed “logic and common-sense” was thankfully insufficient to prove their case in court.
This decision may well be very important in that other federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court may take notice.
We all know the “vagueness” of certain parts of the registry no matter what state you’re in. Seeing that the State of N. Carolina has nothing more than “anecdotal law and draconian logic” to back up their case, it’s hard to imagine that other states, and hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court, will not follow suit in making changes to their registries or face lawsuits such as this one.