A petition was filed today challenging a State Department regulation that attempts to implement the International Megan’s Law (IML). The petition states that the regulation, published on September 2, is defective for both substantive and procedural reasons. In addition, the petition requests that the regulation be significantly modified in order to comply with the IML which has also been challenged.
According to the petition, the regulation is substantively defective for two reasons. First, the regulation denies passport cards to covered registrants. Second, the regulation improperly defines covered registrants as anyone convicted of an offense involving a minor although the IML states that only the passports of registrants who are currently required to register can be affected.
“The State Department has made a grave error by issuing a regulation that is broader than the law it attempts to implement,” stated ACSOL President Janice Bellucci. “The IML does not authorize the agency to deny passport cards to registrants.”
According to the petition, the regulation is procedurally defective because it does not include the reason the agency decided to issue a final rule without first publishing a proposed rule and then obtaining public comments on the proposed rule.
“If the State Department had acted in accordance with the law and published a proposed rule, the agency would have learned of these defects in a more informal manner,” stated Bellucci.
In addition to the filing of a petition, registrants notified several State Department officials by telephone and E-mail last week that the regulation was defective.
“We thank those who contacted the State Department last week,” stated Bellucci. “They were the first to put the agency on notice that their regulation was defective.”
If the State Department fails to reply or provides an unsatisfactory reply to the petition, a lawsuit can be filed in federal district court challenging the regulation.