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SCOTUS: Justices weigh whether sex offenders should be tracked worldwide

Members of the Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared skeptical of the federal government’s argument that a registered sex offender should be required to notify authorities when moving to another country.  Full Article

Oral Argument Transcript

Case History

Related

Justices Target Unclear Sex Offender Registration Rule – Criminal Law Reporter

Argument preview: When a sex offender moves out of the country, does he have to tell anyone? – CA RSOL

Join the discussion

  1. Tom

    If Scotus weighs in favorably for the defendant, can this be good for our IML case as well ?

  2. Eric Knight

    Several of the justices, including Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts, grappled Tuesday with the language in the statute that defines an involved jurisdiction.

    Seems a bit more involved than filling out a Price Club application, don’t it Johnny boy!! In my opinion, every time anything that has to do with sex offender registration is argued, Price Club should be brought out at strategic opportunities. In the meantime, Roberts knows that Smith v. Doe was the MAIN reason he’s on the Supreme Court and, in fact, is the Chief Justice.

    • Son of Liberty Child of Freedom

      I really enjoyed reading Kagans comment.

      “Kagan wondered why the U.S. is even bothering to extradite sex offenders back to the U.S. from other countries if they are only required to say they are leaving the state, not where they are going in the world.”

      I am going to make the inference that Kagan’s only expectation from a registered citizen when leaving the US would be a simple “Bye Bye” LOL!!

  3. steve

    I love this by Chief Justice Roberts who equated registering to “reneewing a price club membership”

    17 CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: That’s an awful lot
    to ask a ­­ a layperson to parse at the penalty of ten
    years for being wrong.
    This comment in reference to the plaintiff understanding the law.
    Alito’s pedophile comment is disturbing and really the crux of our problem. Do they actually believe these laws ONLY affect pedophiles?

    • mch

      Interesting note, and a hopeful note. Clarence Thomas asked a gov’t attorney questions for the first time in many years, 10 years I think. The court was hearing a case about restoring gun ownership rights to a man with a spousal abuse/domestic violence. He questioned the attorney for the prosecution asking; “This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?” misdemeanor. Of course the attorney couldn’t think of one example. I can think of many, all associated with registered sex offenders! The attorney did mention that First Amendment rights could be affected in comparable settings to which Thomas replied “So, can you think of a First Amendment suspension or a suspension of a First Amendment right that is permanent?” The attorney conceded that “it’s not necessarily permanent as to the individual, but it may be permanent as to a particular harm.”
      RSO’s first amendment rights have been trampled, spit upon and crapped on. I can think of around 800,000 individuals who have had their first amendment rights permanently harmed.
      Perhaps Clarence Thomas is a voice of reason?

      • PK

        “This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?” misdemeanor. Of course the attorney couldn’t think of one example.

        “I can think of many, all associated with registered sex offenders!”
        Who said that?

    • David H

      i thought Roberts was objective perhaps even understanding of the petitioner–the rest??? Alito is Alito, we never heard from thomas and the rest must appear as if they give a damn!

  4. Marie

    Huh. Interesting.

    Roberts said the statute is an “awful lot to ask a layperson to parse” in order to avoid the maximum 10-year sentence for violating SORNA.

  5. Robert

    Pk. This is Rob and I told you I would let you know what happened when I came back in the US. Today I flew into San Francisco from Singapore. I went to Immigration counter to have my customs card flagged with a red marker and was told to go to secondary screenibg which is a private. I went there and put my passport in the bin and I sat down only to have my name called about 2 minutes later. They just asked me how long I was out of country and what countries I went to and if it was for business or vacation. Then he cleared me and said have a good day. I get my luggage and have to go to another screening. This is just to have my luggage searched. But was given my passport back everytime. They were very courteous and very goodin talking. Usually they ask me what happened back then and I tell them. The Immigration people are very good people. But LA are the worst. But so far I still have my passport

  6. PK

    Justice Sotomayer:
    I find interesting the new legislation. As I see it, it’s getting away from where you reside or anything else. It just says if you’re going to travel to a foreign place,
    you have to tell the United States, correct?

    Is there anything in that­­ in that law that requires the U.S. to tell the State the person’s left that they’ve left?

    JUSTICE BREYER:
    All right. I’m trying to understand it. It is a jurisdiction that is involved in a special way.
    It is a jurisdiction that used to be a residence, and it is no longer a residence.
    And that creates an involvement even after they’re no longer a residence.
    You know, the more I explain it, the less I understand it.

    JUSTICE BREYER:
    Oh, what he’s done is he’s lived in the Philippines for 15 years, and now he’s changed his residence to South Korea.
    Does he have to tell Kansas? [the state where he originally left to move to the Phillipines]

    JUSTICE KAGAN:
    It seems to me that what you’re saying is that each of those offenders is supposed to recognize the underlying purpose of the law,
    which is to have accurate registries, and to do everything he can to serve that underlying purpose.
    And we would you know, it would be good if everybody did that.
    But the text of the law is something different.
    And if you look at this text of the law, there’s just no way that a reasonable reader reads that text and says it requires me to provide departure notification when I leave to another country.

    JUSTICE GINSBURG:
    So ­­ so who ­­ who is left out under the new law that would be covered under your reading of the old law?

    MR.GANNON:
    I ­­ I don’t think any ­­ my point is not that somebody is left out under the new law.
    My point is that the new law captures many more people.

    RIGHT EVERY SEX OFFENDER!!

    • Son of Liberty Child of Freedom

      “MR.GANNON:
      I ­­ I don’t think any ­­ my point is not that somebody is left out under the new law.
      My point is that the new law CAPTURES many more people.”

      Capturing some thing or some person is clearly arresting it, holding it, it has been stolen.

      I restate the words of The Most High Creator of the Cosmos & the US constitution.

      From Exodus Chapter 20 verses 1,2,15, & 17 in the English interpretation by the King James.

      “1 And God spake all these words, saying,
      2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house
      of BONDAGE.

      15 Thou shalt not STEAL.
      17 Thou shalt not COVET thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not COVET thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor ANY THING that is thy neighbour’s”

      How about a little less colored interpretation of the original Hebrew found in,
      Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

      “1 And God speaketh all these words, saying,
      2 I [am] Jehovah thy God, who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of a house of SERVENTS.

      15 Thou dost not STEAL.
      17 Thou dost not DESIRE the house of thy neighbour, thou dost not DESIRE the wife of thy neighbour, or his man-servant, or his handmaid, or his ox, or his ass, or ANYTHING which [is] thy neighbour’s.’

      I believe this Law came first, before the US laws & covers a persons Freedom, a persons Freedom is a serious “Thing”.

      I believe if a person causes a damaged & pays the Debt in full they are Due their Freedom.

  7. USA

    This is clearly an example of overzealous law enforcement. The man moved out of the country? (Can you blame him). He left. I believe he will prevail!

  8. David

    I look forward to their decision. I expect their decision will be able to be used to defeat IML and, hopefully, SORNA itself (and ALL sex offender registries). Because, yes, Chief Justice Roberts, all this crap is too much to expect any non-lawyer to parse and abide by!

    • TiredOfCalifornia

      They specifically made the point that they could rule in favor of Lester without risking much precedence because of the new IML, which is more restrictive. In other words, I see nothing from this that suggests they have any desire to rule IML unconstitutional. On the contrary, they might be more willing to rule against Kansas here because they don’t believe that it even matters now that IML is in place.

  9. David

    It’s interesting that coverage of this SCOTUS hearing was only reported in ONE news source: TheHill.com. Is it possible that the public’s interest in sex offender news is dissipating?

    • Jason

      The public has no interest in the intricacies of sex offender laws and never has. The public only cares that laws are continuously made harsher and never more lenient.

    • Friend of RSOL

      It seems like interest in nuanced sex offender articles is low. Interest in hysteria-building reports about sex offenders on the loose isn’t waning in appeal, apparently. I hope I am wrong.

      Nothing short of a barrage of articles/shows/documentaries/opinion pieces emphasizing the diversity of people on the registry, the low recidivism rates, and the crazy, ex post facto laws will stop this stuff.

      Nearly every article in the mainstream, even well-intentioned ones, seems to equate “sex offenders” with serial pedophiles/predators. They use these words interchangeably. The whole idea of “dangerousness” is emphasized over and over again – that this is a special class of criminal to whom ordinary laws and protections simply don’t apply. This thinking must be corrected before we can see big changes in lawmaking.

      To me, this issue needs a serious PR campaign – I mean, Spotlight just got the Best Picture Oscar. People will be led to believe that harsher sex offender laws would have prevented that sort of abuse. We are really fighting an uphill battle here without dedicated PR. I honestly don’t know how to start anything like this, but we are fighting ignorance and fear – two very difficult things to dislodge.

      • Harry

        I agree, Friend of RSOL, that marketing vehicles need to be employed.

      • PR

        I agree also Friend of RSOL. So let’s brainstorm and figure out what we can collective do as a group to begin to dispel the ignorance and fear.

      • Timmr

        Yes, that stereotype view of us clouds their eyes and makes our true selves invisible. The thing is the hatred of those labeled sex offenders is about the only thing holding this society together today. It is the “glue” that binds people of all races, classes, religions, political persuasions, ethnic groups and the only thing that they all can agree on. Sad to think a society is so divided it needs a hated group to keep any semblance of common purpose.
        Maybe we need to leave off trying to educate them on who we are for now. There is a willful blindness that is valuable to them for some reason. They apparently need the hatred or indifference undiluted, uncomplicated, in raw emotion. We need to turn the mirror on the haters and ask them to look at themselves and tell us what they see.

        • Lake County

          I wish it could be as simple as paying for full page ads in national newspapers explaining the truth about SO myths. We need to hire a social media expert to help us. The sooner we dispel myths, the sooner we can get support to change laws.

      • David H

        Friend of…

        From my beginning, I knew the only cure for this madness was going to be in numbers, as more and more were added to the list, budgets to manage would soon be a place to cut; we see evidence in that by way of changes to SOMB policy suggestions to review risk levels and the like they know they cant keep adding indefinitely to the ranks. And yes there are the calls by moms and dads and husbands and wives about this now–so let their laws snare even more; we are at teens now! Will they deem some genetically possible at birth to be at risk to become a sex offender??

        This cannot continue; but unfortunately for me in my life-time it could…

        I think we need to keep focused on risk management as data is our only friend

  10. A

    I think what is needed is a smoking gun of admission by any politician that their agenda is about furthering political carers based on this universal hatred of RC’s. And not, in fact, public safety. A quote like that would be an excellent start. Possibly a strong talking point of the adverse consequences to so many effected by this hatred.

    • Harry

      I, actually, believe that a class action against the Government (all governmental bodies) for lying with information to get laws passed. We may want to consider, suing these Politian’s personally.

    • Son of Liberty Child of Freedom

      Countrymen,

      The ugly truth is that the state of The country is in the cold hands of those who twist & pervert Justice to further their own interest with no regard to whom they declared they would serve.

      “To understand the concept of rational basis review, it is easier to understand what it is not. Rational basis review is not a genuine effort to determine the legislature’s actual reasons for enacting a statute, nor to inquire into whether a statute does in fact further a legitimate end of government. A court applying rational basis review will virtually always uphold a challenged law unless every conceivable justification for it is a grossly illogical non sequitur (or even worse, a word salad). In 2008, Justice John Paul Stevens reaffirmed the lenient nature of rational basis review in a concurring opinion: “[A]s I recall my esteemed former colleague, Thurgood Marshall, remarking on numerous occasions: ‘The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws.'”[14]

      New York State Bd. of Elections v. Lopez Torres, 552 U.S. 196, ___ (2008) (Stevens, J., concurring).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_basis_review

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