The New Unconstitutionality of Juvenile Sex Offender Registration: Suspending the Presumption of Constitutionality for Laws that Burden Juvenile Offenders

In Smith v. Doe, the Supreme Court held that Alaska’s sex offender registration and notification statute did not constitute punishment and was therefore not susceptible to challenge under the Ex Post Facto Clause. In reaching that conclusion, the Court looked to the seven factors articulated in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez. To evaluate those factors, the Court applied a presumption of constitutionality, conducting the sort of narrow factual inquiry characteristic of rational basis review. Since Smith, courts have disagreed as to whether sex offender laws are punitive when applied to juveniles, and the Supreme Court has not yet addressed the issue. This Note argues that the Court should suspend the presumption of constitutionality when conducting its ex post facto inquiry for laws that burden juvenile offenders. The Court should do so because the very rationales that underlie the presumption are inapplicable in both the case of juvenile offenders and the ex post facto context. Introduction – Full Paper (pdf)

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Personally, I find it irrational for people to argue the registry is inhuman for a child due to their age, but completely just when applied to an adult. Besides adults changing their behavior constantly like children, it can be argued the registry is worse for an adult since they must seek employment and housing in order to take care of their children and themselves!