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Justice Alito’s misleading claim about sex offender rearrests

“Repeat sex offenders pose an especially grave risk to children. ‘When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for a new rape or sexual assault.’”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., concurring opinion in Packingham v. North Carolina, June 19, 2017 Full Article

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Fact-Checking the Fact Checker

A misdirected attack on two notable sentences in Justice Alito’s Packingham concurrence

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Again and again over the years, I have read in reputable articles and research papers that sex offenders have a low rate of recidivism of 5.4%. I am so disturbed and surprised that the Supreme Court can’t get their facts correct.

When there is an error such as this, is there a way to inform Mr Alito of his error? We point out inaccurate details in article after article every day. Why can we challenge the Supreme Court about their misleading information?

There is a long drawn out way to get correct info to SCOTUS I read about a long time ago, but it has to go through several people before it gets to them.

Just because the sky is blue and we can tell them why it is blue, they don’t necessarily have to believe it is blue.

You may need to read the article. The statement the Justices make isn’t false, it’s just misleading and deceptive. Sex Offenders are more likely than Drug Dealers to commit another sex crime. Just like Drug Dealers are more likely to commit another drug offense than a sex offender would commit a drug offense. It’s just simple logic that didn’t need to be in a SCOTUS opinion because the average person mis-reads it to mean more than it says. As the article demonstrates, other than Murderers, sex offenders are least likely to commit another crime, but yes, the few that do… Read more »

I think those three justices are often depicted as monkeys covering ears, eyes and mouth.

One wouldn’t want to come off one’s personal biases against offenders while deciding law of the land…

–AJ

Please remember that Justice Alito stated during oral argument in the Nichols case last year that the only reason men travel to the Philippines is to have sex with children. This statement is just one piece of evidence to confirm that he is not our friend.

Yeah, tell that to the male missionaries who serve and Filipino men who go back to visit family there. Blinders so big a long tunnel is formed in the vision ahead.

He’s an uneducated D*$k, he is a Republican that does NOT use the facts nor research back by scientific evidence, not guesswork from the 70’s and 60’s. He just bring in more fear mongering of ignorance, he’s really a Judge on SCOTUS? Nor care about all human life, with his personal opinionated guesses. That are a reminder of unEducated guesswork.
Other’s like him, in power, yeah. Folks, it’s 2017 half way through, not pre-Psychology Today 1971. to pre historic 1955 idealisms. Who voted for this person? JD, yeah. not me.

Agreed that Alito is not the best Associate Justice. Just a note, Supreme Court Justice’s are not voted in. They are approved by Congress in Senate hearings. Justices cannot be voted out, only impeached. Same thing goes for Federal District and Appellate judges. A Senior Justice has to be on the bench for 15 years and be at least 65 years of age. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senior_status

The above link applies to all Federal judges. Just a note, I used to be a Federal court employee and my job title was “deputy clerk”, although I was functioning in a different position.

Justice Alito’s statement about the Philippines was a para-phrase of the Philippine’s president who hates the US and its’ military. He wants China’s promised money.

Any victory in court of any group around the US Constitution is so important. It shows the powers to be have-been eroding people’s rights.

Alito seems to me to be the cranky old man in the neighborhood who yells at kids who go on his lawn, still has a VCR (with a flashing 12:00 AM), and wishes “they” would all go back where “they” came from.

What a complete slam on another country and its citizenry. Can you imagine the uproar if anyone in Congress or the White House made such a statement?
–AJ

He did roll his eyes at Obama…

@Michael
I cannot find any reference to his having rolled eyes at Obama. He’s done plenty of eye-rolling, and other rude things, to others, but his action towards Obama was to mouth “not true” back to him during a SOTU address. Tradition has SCOTUS sitting stone-faced and not clapping at SOTUs, for fear of showing partiality or political ideology. Apparently Alito doesn’t care about that.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/justice_samuel_alito_why_he_s_so_rude.html

Alito really seems to be a jerk and also perhaps a misogynist (http://www.salon.com/2013/06/25/justice_alito_mocks_female_justices_while_on_the_bench/). He certainly doesn’t put forth a good example of how a Supreme Court Justice should act.

–AJ

Misleading and deceptive is far worse than being wrong. It implies they are trying to cover up or hide something, which we all know seems to happen all the time in the legislature, but this is the scotus and they should be held to a higher standard. If the justices can’t bury their own personal opinions and be objective then its time for them to go.

Was Alito deliberately making a misleading claim? Or, was he making the claim inadvertently out of sheer laziness because he didn’t take the time to actually look at the data?

….

Alito had two citations to his quote. That’s where WaPo’s Michelle Lee took Alito and his sources to the woodshed.

“Sex Offenders are more likely than Drug Dealers to commit another sex crime.” That is some funny shit! I bet a toestubber is more likely than non-toestubbers to stub his toe again. The recidivism rate is a measurement of the rate at which offenders commit other crimes. It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, not necessarily the same behavior. Had you read the article, you would have found that the data Alito used compares sex offenders to non-sex offenders. According to data in the 2014 BJS study, the percentage of sex offenders getting rearrested for the same crime… Read more »

I wonder how many other people with convictions such as drugs, robbery and other non-sex crimes do cross-over into a sex crime. I have never seen that data. Perhaps it is low perhaps not. But once convicted of a sex crime nothing else matters when it comes to statistics. The data appears massaged and skewed. Oh, I almost forgot it becomes political.

Gang-bangers. They’re the ones who cross over into rape with some frequency. But guess what? They were (are?) systematically EXCLUDED for consideration as “sexually violent predators” for the purposes of sex offender civil commitment. They just get out of prison, no worries about indefinite (but mostly lifetime) interment at California State Hospital, Coalinga. I came into possession of a letter written by CSH administrators some years ago (from Mike St. Martin) saying precisely that in explaining their guidelines for “admission.” And don’t get me started on what California (or any state as well as the federal government) considers to be… Read more »

Mr. Alito probably reads the Washington Post. If he doesn’t read it I’m sure at least one of the other justices reads it and will share the article with him. I would hope that the Supreme Court justices have their own research people on staff who have some background in statistics.

His clerks will have read it and will have placed it on his desk.

@commenter1 I take it your curiosity has been peaked & you may have wondered – So what do SCOTUS clerks actually do? Answers given by the Law Clerks are revealing: Something similar to what federal court clerks do. Primarily, their role is to sift through the thousands of petitions and mark the cases worthy of being granted time. “It’s the most basic task, and the constant thing that you do – during the summer it’s practically your only task.” The petitions that lawyers write very cleverly argue why their cases should be granted; the clerk’s job is “to screen out… Read more »

@Matt I would suggest seeking out to make contact with the Law Clerks who do much of the research & analysis for Jurist. Current & Past Law Clerks who continue to have personal relationships would also be advised to building rapport with, For example in the year 1996 Ted Cruz was a Law Clerk for the 16th Chief Justice of the United States – William Hubbs Rehnquist. Senator Rafael Ted Cruz published the his book “A Time for Truth” which gives insight into the machinations within the Walls & Echo Chambers of the SCOTUS. I posit the paths that lead… Read more »

I posit the current Law Clerks serving SCOTUS: OCTOBER TERM 2016 SUPREME COURT CLERK HIRES (as of July 22, 2016) Chief Justice John G. Roberts 1. Thomas S. Burnett (Harvard 2014 / Livingston) 2. Marguerite B. Colson (Yale 2015 / Kavanaugh) 3. Rachel G. Miller-Ziegler (Harvard 2015 / Garland) 4. Conor M. Reardon (Duke 2014 / Cabranes / Chatigny (D. Conn.)) Justice Anthony M. Kennedy 1. Alex Harris (Harvard 2015 / Gorsuch) 2. William Perdue (Yale 2011 / Katzmann / Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.)) 3. J.J. Snidow (Yale 2014 / Kethledge / Thapar (E.D. Ky.)) 4. Thomas Sprankling (Columbia 2012 / Kozinski)… Read more »

Justice O’Connor retired in 2006.

@Happy, joyous and free
“Justice O’Connor retired in 2006.”
Yes, but retired Justices are still entitled to hire one clerk. I think it was an oversight in omitting the “(retired)” tag that was given to Stevens and Souter.

–AJ

This is great! it’s on the washingtonpost!

This piece, from the major “hometown” paper of SCOTUS, is fantastic for our cause. Even if Alito doesn’t read it (quite possible), the topic will be unavoidable. It’s also going to land right in the laps of every Representative and Senator, not to mention being noticed across the country by other judges, etc.

I don’t know how or why the WaPo decided to put this out–they even say they don’t normally fact-check SCOTUS–but God bless them for doing so.

Awesome article, WaPo!

–AJ

Maybe to beat Eugene Volokh to it and his legal beat articles through the WaPo? He has mentioned this issue before in his writings.

Anyway, more data from published sources need to be brought up and submitted for the court to consider where the flawed thinking is reviewed!

The justices of SCOTUS will get another round of exposure to the true facts about SO recidivism if and when they take on the Does v. Snyder case from the 6th Circuit. It has taken a long time to turn back the tide that Justice Kennedy inadvertently started in Smith v. Doe but it is quite clear that the same Justice who started the trend, is helping walk it back.

The Snyder case will definitely help Kennedy walk it back even more so, because even as the 3 judge panel in Snyder realized and stated, that today’s registry scheme is not the same one that was introduced in 2003 when the Smith case was argued before them. A whole different nasty animal has formed in today’s registry system as all of us here already know, and I have no doubt the majority of SCOTUS if not all of them for that matter, know this as well. How can anyone have predicted that almost 15 years ago ? Kennedy should lead… Read more »

I think Kennedy already noted the difference in thought from now and when he covered the McKune case by stating that although it’s not under scrutiny in this case, why is there supervision on a person who completed their dues to society already?

Yup, that too. They know. They all know.

I may just be reading tea leaves, but I see significance in Kennedy being assigned to write this opinion. I optimistically see it as the start of one big mea culpa. Please don’t retire just yet, Kennedy!

–AJ

If an employee used incorrect data which was PROVEN FALSE they would be fired for incompetence. Certainly anyone in his position should not make decisions that affect so many lives on DISPROVEN INFO! Q: Why is this not headline news? A: It only affects a “small” marginalized group of people that have been demonized and dehumanized! Until those labelled as “sex offenders” are seen as worthy as living among “good” people this shit will continue to go on. STOP ACCEPTING LIES aka FAKE NEWS AS FACT Mr. Samuel A. Alito Jr. You do not deserve the position you have been… Read more »

Going on that premise, then there would be a whole lot of Judges, DAs and others across the country who used the incorrect data in a legal forum that would be canned one way or another, not just SCOTUS employees. The best way to combat this sort of thinking is to provide more data to add to the existing data for more critical thinking to happen. I can see Justice Alito challenging the masses to do just that. I learned a long time ago John Adams said the courts are not about the truth but painting a storyboard for everyone.… Read more »

After reading the WaPo, I’m in awe. I had to read the article twice to understand the apples-to-oranges comparison that Alito was trying to disseminate in his opinion. BTW, you have to read carefully on what Alito wrote. He said “When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be arrested for a new rape or sexual assault.” Is Alito trying to compare registrants with separate other offenders or is his trying to compare registrants against all other types of offender. I looked at the PDF of the one of the… Read more »

Oh wow… I was thinking something else.

I liked the “you’re not comparing equally” idea. The re-offense rate of your crime should be comparable, not an offense that didn’t send you to prison.

But what I showed is what I thought the author was suggesting – let’s compare sex offense after release upon the whole population that was released. There’s a significant difference b/c the context of the population (volume) is now part of the equation.

@New Person. Great post! Really puts the offense rates into perspective. So glad to see this stuff in the Wa Post! I hope Janice contacts them and continues the fight to get the truth out to those that need to hear it.

Barring what the justices said, they essentially opined because of this: 1. Smith v Doe, MAIN reason cited was “high recidivism”; since disputed through factual documentation. This high recidivism rate was brought out at that time by attorney for the state, John Roberts, now Chief Justice. 2. The lawyer for Packingham NEVER BROUGHT UP recidivism rates in ANY capacity. My guess is that he felt that he did NOT need to bring it up on the floor, but damn it!! These stats should have been submitted in FOTC briefs. Therefore, the justices had no factual basis for negating this (barring… Read more »

The old courthouse oath, “The truth nothing but the truth, so help me God” Apparently truth has no value since God no longer is in the loop.

My guess is Alito sees himself and the Court as the finders-of-fact, regardless of what evidence may actually say. The Court has already weighed the evidence and determined in Smith v. Doe what the facts are: that sex offenders are recidivist that must be punished perpetually. Because the decision has already been made and that fact verified by the fact-finders, the inquiry is over, and he will state it as fact forever.

Samuel Alito…the stench of the George W. Bush presidency lingers on!

The Bushes and many other GOP swamp rats are as un-American as the Clintons and the Obamas, IMO.

The belief that “sex offenders reoffend at a high rate” is nothing more than a fallacious argument that is used for political manipulation and to convince people of the danger of sexual crimes and how dangerous registrants are and therefore controversial laws get passed.

I just finished reading the Packingham opinion, and Alito really appears to be a complete idiot. I don’t say that due to his being against my situation, but because of his flawed thoughts. Alito: “[T]his language is bound to be interpreted by some to mean that the States are largely powerless to restrict even the most dangerous sexual predators from visiting any internet sites, including, for example, teenage dating sites and sites designed to permit minors to discuss personal problems with their peers.” >>Maybe he should have read the Court’s opinion. Kennedy: “[I]t can be assumed that the First Amendment… Read more »

That was my first impression after reading the minority opinion as well. The concerns he felt needed it’s own brief were either already covered by the majority brief, or completely irrelevant to this case or common sense. His only real reason to express a separate opinion was so he could leave off this part: “Of importance, the troubling fact that the law imposes severe restrictions on persons who already have served their sentence and are no longer subject to the supervision of the criminal justice system is also not an issue before the Court.” and so he could add this… Read more »

It’s a chess game. The counter to the Kennedy’s opinion is to say, “We still need the registry for free persons b/c they’re monsters. I have these stats to prove how dangerous they are.” But Janice long ago debunked on how the SCOTUS can be wrong from time to time in a 2013 SO Conference. So it’ll be a showdown when Snyder comes up. I think Snyder case uses Dr Ira and Tara Ellman’s research work as well. Ira made a comment about Alito and his use of social science, alluding to how incorrect that source was and is as… Read more »

“Of importance, the troubling fact that the law
imposes severe restrictions on persons who already have
served their sentence and are no longer subject to the
supervision of the criminal justice system IS ALSO NOT AN ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT (but pending)” This statement by Justice Kennedy (with my emphasis) could signal his feeling toward the pending issues on Snider case. I foresee a 5-4 decision on snider case with Neil Gorsuch against us. There were two opinions released by scotus today (Thursday) with Gorsuch siding with Alito and Clarence Thomas. Tell me what ya think!

I see nothing in today’s decisions, or in any of his past judicial decisions (with which I am familiar), for that matter, that would lead me to believe that Gorsuch will be against us in Snider. I don’t even see a particular animus towards defendants in criminal matters.

We do know that he has libertarian inclinations, which is excellent for us, but we are just going to have to wait to see to what extent there may be socially conservative impulses that come into play. He is largely untested in sex offender cases but shows promise in criminal justice generally.

@TXSO4Life I think you’re reading a bit too much into Gorsuch joining Thomas and Alito on one case, and his writing a separate, concurring opinion in which Thomas joined for the other. The cases were 9-0 and 7-2 (Breyer, Kagan), so it’s not like he “sided” with either Alito or Thomas in any sort of opposition or dissent. Instead, the three simply saw different aspects to the case, but came to the same conclusion as to judgment. Big deal, it happens all the time. As David Kennerly points out, Gorsuch is libertarian-minded, a boon to our cause. He also seems… Read more »

Gorsuch so far has shown his strong belief in a law applying as written and, if written poorly, the legislature–not the judiciary–being where change is to be made. (This isn’t surprising, given his ruling against the freezing truck driver.) Hopefully he is as willing to take judicial activity back from the legislature as he is to keeping legislating out of the courtroom. I think that can only play in our favor.

–AJ

Uhm, this is a man who recently admitted to enlisting the help of his dog to help make the decision for him in difficult cases before the court.

Justice Alito: ““I put the red [respondent’s] brief over here and the blue [petitioner’s] brief over there, equal distance from Zeus, and I’d put a few dog treats on both. Then I would let Zeus go,” he said. “If he went to blue brief, then we would reverse.”

I don’t think he was kidding.

@Nondescript I don’t think he was kidding, either. The only reason I think he may be kidding is because I gotta believe a dog could have done better than Alito has. The guy is low-class and should never have been put on SCOTUS. Can you imagine if, by twist of fate, *he* had gotten his nomination bumped up to Chief Justice? Roberts is bad enough (though maybe improving), but just the thought of an “Alito Supreme Court” makes me gag. Here’s the URL about the dog: http://time.com/4750346/justice-samuel-alito-dog-zeus-supreme-court/ A side thought. “Alito” means “breath” in Italian. I wonder if his family… Read more »

I say keep up with the fight against those that distort information and hold them accountable for their malicious intent against American citizens that are registrants that have already paid their debt to society. The only reason why they succeeded was because we did nothing to stop them, didn’t speak out, and persevere through the fight against misinformation, and propaganda against registered citizens. Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing “.

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