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Will SCOTUS Let Fear of Sex Offenders Trump Justice?

Two cases give the Court a chance to reconsider its counterintuitive conclusions about commitment and registration.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, locking up sex offenders after they have completed their sentences is not punishment, and neither is branding them as dangerous outcasts for the rest of their lives. Two cases the Court could soon agree to hear give it an opportunity to reconsider, or at least qualify, those counterintuitive conclusions. Full Article

Also see

Snyder vs Doe

Karsjens v Piper

 

 

Join the discussion

  1. AJ

    No surprise that Reason.com is on our side about this, but it’s still refreshing to see it out there (again). Also, as of my reading the article, there were only four comments from three posters–and were on our side.

    Also, let’s hope that our fellow citizens who do not merit civil commitment are also blessed with a cert grant and get the justice and freedom they’ve been denied.

  2. T

    They are using the famous “Big Lie” to keep things under control and people convinced. The people would rather hear the popular lie about “sex offender registry not being punishment” and “high recidivism rate” to make everyone feel safe etc, than the unpopular truth that the registry destroys lives, and that people are being feed with falsehoods and junk science as manipulation to keep the registry system maintained. The question is how do you break that cycle of manipulation and helping others wake up?

    • AlexO

      You start with SCOTUS finally ruling against the registry. Then when it somewhat blows up across the media, there will plenty of experts revealing actual facts on national TV, radio, and articles. It wont convince everyone, but it will get the message out to many who will listen.

  3. David Kennerly, the "Contained"

    This is quite a quote: “The Supreme Court has upheld post-prison commitment of sex offenders, accepting the pseudoscientific claim that a propensity to commit a certain type of crime is an illness that mental health professionals can cure (in this case, an illness defined by state legislators rather than psychiatrists). But the Court has warned that imposing punishment in the guise of treatment may be unconstitutional.”

    I’m liking Jacob Sullum more-and-more.

    • AJ

      Wait a second, I thought we were all incurable. Now the legislature claims we can be? Boy, I wish they’d get their punishm…er…stories straight!

  4. Biol57

    This line from the amicus filed by the CATO Institute opposing the sex offender detention scheme is powerful. The authors of the amicus note that “Sex offender laws have bored a hole in the nation’s constitutional fabric.” I hope that the SCOTUS elects to hear both of these important cases and uses this opportunity to fix a problem that they largely allowed by relying on debunked statistics to justify the abuse of registrants.

    • steve

      I just want to know what amount of civil award we are all going to receive will be for this blatant lie, mistake or whatever you want to call it.

      • AlexO

        The same award African-Americans will receive for being enslaved and then being separate but equal until 50 years ago; women for not being able to vote until 100 years ago because “their vote would cancel out their husbands”; and taking the land of the actual native people under the guise of “manifest destiny”. Hell, some states actually have laws against reparations of wrongful imprisonment; I read a story last year of a man who was vindicated after doing decades behind bars but per the state laws he was simply released and that’s it.

        If SCOTUS actually dismantles the registry and we’re all released, I’ll treasure that like a winning Power Ball ticket.

        • steve

          True AlexO

        • ReadyToFight

          Well said Alex,
          I would hope that ANYONE removed from the Registry would cherish that second lease on Life for as long as they live.

          • Paul 2

            I ask everyone to think about someone slipping off a cliff holding on to a tree root the more the root pulls out the more frantic and crazy the person tries to scratch and grab on to something. If they have to start taking people off the reg we will see some crazy stuff coming at us An example already is the PA house judiciary hearing with Freed they are already talking nuts, about a secondary reg also they have a bill to enact an arson reg in the works.

            • David Kennerly, the Very Model of "Containment"

              And each additional group they manicly attempt to “register” goes that much further in demonstrating that their intentions are in creating lists of shame which facilitate endless punishment.

              Of course, they don’t really care nearly as much about arsonists as they do about sex offenders but they now have to pretend that they do in order to save their beloved sex offender registry. They must place it within a larger context of criminality so that it can be portrayed as rational and evenhanded.

              Crazy indeed!

            • AJ

              “I ask everyone to think about someone slipping off a cliff holding on to a tree root the more the root pulls out the more frantic and crazy the person tries to scratch and grab on to something.”
              —–
              Thanks for reminding me of the time in my 20’s when I almost fell to my death while foolishly free-climbing along a bluff. My shoe got caught in a gap in the rock, and as I freed it I lost balance. I was flailing like a cartoon character until I grabbed onto a small tree growing out of the rock face. (That may be the last time I smoked weed, come to think of it!) Dang, back to therapy…. 😉

  5. mike r

    not meaning to be pessimistic, but hopefully they don’t take the cases and claim recidivism rates are irrelevant to their constitutional decisions. We’ll see..Scrotus is kind of coming under the gun in that every news outlet and all the professionals are calling the courts decisions out…

    • jo

      They simply cannot do that because that very “fact” was used to justify keeping the law.

  6. Q

    “WILL SCOTUS LET FEAR OF SEX OFFENDERS TRUMP JUSTICE?”

    Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the did. Did not the supreme court recently cite a “frightening and high” 80% probability for registrants to re-offend? Are these not the made up “statistical” odds cited by almost everyone in all levels of government who count personal gain, self preservation and how they are perceived among themselves and by their useful idiots (the public) above truth, honesty and high moral principals? Nope; I ain’t holding my breath. They’ll probably cite the manufactured fear created by their kind as their logic to “trump justice.” And this they will call justice. They act on what is the opposite of truth. And all the other side of truth leaves is what is called a lie. Truth is light and lies are darkness.

    “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –  Plato

  7. Eric Knight

    According to Florida Action Committee, Snyder hearing was denied by SCOTUS.

    • AJ

      @Eric Knight:
      From what others have posted, FAC seems to be equating “no grant given” with denial. Patently false. Snyder’s outcome remains unknown outside the minds of SCOTUS and a handful of staff.

      • i can't wait to die

        AJ, don’t bother wasting your time trying to correct FAC as any correction or statement they don’t agree with will be censored I no longer visit that site. they solicited funds for a lawsuit acquired the funds (donations), not they state they want to wait in see what happens in current court case’s but never divulged that while soliciting funds

        • AJ

          @i can’t wait to die:
          Oh I have zero intention of dealing with FAC at all. I merely wanted to pour water on any such belief spreading on here.

    • Biol57

      We should know more on Monday, Oct. 2nd when SCOTUS issues additional orders. They could accept the request to hear the case, relist the case to be considered at a future conference or deny Cert. All we know is the right now is that Snyder is still in limbo.

      • Bobby

        @Biol57,

        I e-mailed Ms Amy Howe a independent contractor and reporter at scotusblog.com and asked her if she knew anything concerning the Snyder case and this is what she wrote back to me.
        They did not act on Snyder today. They could act on it on Monday, when they issue a lot of additional orders from the September 25 conference. (There is a chance that they will not and instead hold it over for reconsideration at the next conference, but a relatively small one.)  She also said ( todays grants are likely to be argued in either January or February. The Justices are expected to issue more orders from September 25th Conference, which are likely to mostly be denials of review on Monday Morning, 9:30 AM, October 2nd . Seen this at the bottom of the scotusblog website. under, Justices issue orders from “long conference” (UPDATED) – Amy Howe

        • Follow the $

          Yeah I don’t think they will grant. Since US solicitors filed amicae brief urging them to deny I think they pass on this and wait for the CO suit to get to them. Apparently the SG argued their is no conflict between Synder v Doe and Smith v Doe so they will deny hearing on merits and the judgement stands as precedent. Now to see what suits follow using this as precedent.

          • AJ

            @Follow the $:
            Denying on merits is certainly a valid concern, and the USSG amicus doesn’t help matters, given it pretty much says, “the 6th got it exactly right and followed SCOTUS methods and procedures in so doing, so there’s no reason for SCOTUS to review.” Kagan’s quick denial of a Stay could indicate she saw nothing meriting review; her denial could also mean she saw no reason to continue to let MI violate RCs’ Constitutional rights while the case pends. On the other side of the coin, SCOTUS could accept it to 1) resolve disagreement among the Circuits, and/or 2) fix the wrong from McKune/Smith.
            =====
            SCOTUS Rule 10 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/supct/rule_10 or https://www.supremecourt.gov/filingandrules/2017RulesoftheCourt.pdf, pp. 5-6) lays out the general reasons SCOTUS grants cert:
            (a) a United States court of appeals has entered a decision in conflict with the decision of another United States court of appeals on the same important matter; has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with a decision by a state court of last resort; or has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or sanctioned such a departure by a lower court, as to call for an exercise of this Court’s supervisory power;
            (b) a state court of last resort has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with the decision of another state court of last resort or of a United States court of appeals;
            (c) a state court or a United States court of appeals has decided an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by this Court, or has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with relevant decisions of this Court.
            —–
            IMHO, (a) covers Snyder; (b) covers Muniz; and (c) covers both Snyder and Muniz. The hook is whether (a) can hold up in an apples-to-apples comparison among the Circuits and State courts of last resort. That is, does striking MI’s law in the 6th equally compare with another court upholding a similar–but obviously not exactly the same, since it would be outside MI–law elsewhere? Favoring us is the fact that MI itself raises the conflicting-courts issue in the opener to its question: “…the Sixth Circuit adopted the minority view in four separate circuit splits….”
            =====
            Of further interest is that the question the USSG addresses is not the question MI asks. MI petitioned this question: “Does retroactively applying a sex-offender-registry law that classifies offenders into tiers based on crime of conviction, requires certain offenders to register for life, requires offenders to report in person periodically and within days of certain changes to registry information, and restricts offenders’ activities within school zones impose ‘punishment’ in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause?”

            USSG addresses this much more specific question: “Whether the retroactive application of the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act to respondents violates the Ex Post Facto Clause, U.S. Const. Art. I, § 9, Cl. 3.”

            These are two significantly different questions. MI is asks, in general, whether certain combination of restrictions constitute punishment; USSG addresses whether *MI’s law* constitutes punishment.

            SCOTUS didn’t specifically ask USSG about MI’s law, it merely said, “[t]he Acting Solicitor General is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States,” (https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/032717zor_k536.pdf, top of page 3).
            In narrowing the question to SORA-MI only, USSG appears to be still and again playing legal games with its amicus–which could backfire, what with USSG already looking bad with SCOTUS for changing views on other cases (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/us/politics/trump-supreme-court.html?mcubz=0).
            Obviously, we RCs are much more interested in MI’s question.
            =====
            Even if SCOTUS denies, Snyder is a win, just with less leverage. My State, which is not in the 6th, has laws that are almost exact replicas of what SORA-MI has. If I must, in a year or two I may well file suit…if I’m still in the U.S. 🙂

            • Follow the $

              Speaking to the merits of Snyder, I just don’t think there is strong enough reason to grant cert. If SCOTUS disagrees with 6th and USSG, they would have granted Thursday. If they agree, there is no reason for them to accept unless the straight up conflict question comes up. But as you said the SG is playing games to try and keep it from being heard. In this case, because of their narrowing the argument and the fact that Snyder was not a class action, I don’t think they can find reason enough to accept. They let stand and now a class suit can begin in MI and other states citing this which will def cause enough split to be heard. And with CO case surely heading their way, the next couple years should either spell the end of this unconstitutional scheme, or the end of our constitutional rights forever.

              • AJ

                “If SCOTUS disagrees with 6th and USSG, they would have granted Thursday.”
                —–
                Not necessarily. I again point to Masterpiece Cakeshop (http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/masterpiece-cakeshop-ltd-v-colorado-civil-rights-commn/?wpmp_switcher=desktop), which had its initial distribution at last year’s “long conference,” (Sept 26, 2016) but wasn’t granted cert until June 26, 2017. Playing in MC’s favor for delay was SCOTUS being a man down, but it still went through 9 relists after they got a full bench.
                =====
                Monday will tell us more–perhaps all–is about all I will agree. SCOTUS may grant Snyder, or may not; may decline Snyder, or may not; may relist Snyder, or may not. If SCOTUS relists, I think it will be due to SCOTUS wanting something else out in legal-land to come to rest (Muniz? Karsjens? Some other Circuit Opinion to come?). If they deny, it may well be quite a slog before another ripe case comes along…and I fear how SCOTUS will be aligned. That said, I feel Snyder and Muniz will both be potent weapons in the struggle, especially when used together.

                MI’s petition has certainly been weak and almost laughable all along, but I remain hopeful they take Snyder to “correct the record.” I’ll admit to being less hopeful than I was this time last week. It would certainly be nice, given all three alums from Smith (Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer) are nearing retirement.
                =====
                In short, I hope you’re wrong, but will be okay if you’re right.

        • AJ

          @Bobby:
          My hat goes off to you, brother. I love and respect how you have no qualms or reservations “cold calling” someone via an email to ask for answers or insight. She seems to have reiterated our hopes and beliefs.

  8. Lovecraft (@ChrisF)

    Just wanted to let you know I did try and contact that attorney a few weeks ago, but have still heard nothing back. I sent him an email with the question you wanted answered along with some other issues i want to tackle. I know he is in the process of filing an additional lawsuit relating to rc’s so he may be really busy. When I fully recover from what im dealing with, i plan to more aggressively pursue legal consel about some things i want addressed. If i havent heard from him ill find someone else. I have your question saved and ill be sure to ask it as soon as I can find someone to ask. Just didnt want you to think I wasnt trying haha.

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