It’s over, but it’s not over. What do I mean? The hearing for the Preliminary Injunction requested in the International Megan’s Law (IML) case is over. However, our challenge to the IML case is not over. In fact, it has just begun.
It is always difficult to argue a motion in federal court. No matter how well you prepare, the judge can and does ask questions for which you are not quite ready. For example, in this week’s hearing the judge asked a question about the use of a passport. It’s only used when one enters a foreign country, right? Wrong! Passports are used continuously during a trip overseas – starting with entry, but also when you rent a car, check into a hotel, change money, etc.
The judge also asked why the addition of a “conspicuous, unique identifier” to a passport identified an individual as someone who has engaged in, or is likely to engage in, child sex trafficking and/or child sex tourism. It is because of the title of the law, the findings in the bill that became the law and statements made by the bill’s author on the floor of Congress and elsewhere.
Some federal judges do not like to tip their hand, that is, to expose their feelings and/or beliefs during a hearing. And perhaps that is what happened this week. However, if the judge’s questions did reflect her feelings and/or beliefs, I am not optimistic about the outcome. The judge has taken under submission the Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the same action she took with regard to the first two motions she heard the same morning. She will issue her decision when she is ready to do so and there is no deadline for her decision.
While we await the judge’s decision, we will not remain idle. Instead, we will begin the discovery process in order to reveal the inner workings of Operation Angel Watch. For example, how many notices have been sent to foreign countries regarding individuals who are no longer required to register? The government admitted in court this week that they made one mistake when they sent such a notice to a foreign country regarding John Doe #3. It’s easy to believe that if the government made one mistake, they’ve made many more.
The one federal government mistake we need to prevent is the addition of a Scarlet letter to even one passport belonging to a U.S. citizen. We will have many more opportunities during the next few months to do so including when the government issues draft regulations explaining what the Scarlet letter will look like and how it will be applied to passports.
So stay tuned. We may or may not have lost one battle due to this week’s hearing. We have many more battles to come. The IML war is far from over. In fact, it has just begun.
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