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IL: 7th Circuit Upholds Illinois Residency Restrictions

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld residency restrictions adopted by the state of Illinois that prohibit anyone convicted of a sex offense involving a minor from living within 500 feet of a school, playground, child-care center, child day-care home and group day-care home. According to the decision, which was issued on July 11, the restrictions can even be applied to individuals who are no longer required to register as a sex offender.

The circuit court rejected arguments in the case that the residency restrictions violated the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as the substantive and procedural due process protections of the 14th Amendment and the takings clause of the 5th Amendment for the reasons stated below.

With regard to the ex post facto claim, the court determined that the residency restrictions are not punitive because they do not banish registrants. Instead, “(t)he Illinois residency statute merely keeps child sex offenders from living in very close proximity to places where children are likely to congregate; it does not force them to leave their communities.” The court added that “(a)lthough the Illinois residency restrictions limit where sex offenders may live, the statute does not control any other aspect of their lives….” The court acknowledged that the limitation regarding child day-care homes, which easily move, “creates some unpredictability” but “imposes no physical restraint”.

With regard to the due process claims, the court determined that the state law is “facially neutral and advances a compelling governmental interest: protecting children from recidivism by child sex offenders”. And although the court acknowledged that the state law limits where registrants may live, it “does not prevent them from establishing a home; it just constrains where they can do so.”

The court also stated that “(i)t’s self-evident that creating a buffer between a child day-care home and the home of a child sex offender may protect at least some children from harm”. The court then determined that the state legislature could have reasonably concluded that a conviction for a sex offense provides evidence of substantial risk of recidivism.

While the court acknowledged that the plaintiffs “maintain that sex offenders do not reoffend more than other criminals” and that there is “scant evidence” to support the state’s proclaimed public safety rationale for its residency restrictions, the court declared that its role was “not to second guess the legislative policy judgment by parsing the latest academic studies on sex-offender recidivism.”

In its decision, the court briefly discussed a recent 6th Circuit decision, Does v. Snyder, which determined that sex offender laws in the state of Michigan were punitive and therefore violated the ex post facto clause. According to the 7th Circuit, the Snyder decision is “easily distinguishable” because the Michigan laws included broader residency restrictions (1,000 feet of a school), as well as a tiered registry and the requirement to disclose internet identifiers.

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  1. G4Change

    Disgusting! Simply disgusting!

  2. AJ

    This was a rather poor lawsuit, filed in a hostile Circuit to boot. Besides the fact they filed suit against the wrong defendant, they limited their suit to one aspect of IL’s SORA. That’s a huge mistake. It’s only through the cumulative effects that any court will even consider disability–as highlighted by USSG in his SCOTUS amicus about Snyder.

    It’s a harmful ruling for us, I fear. There’s not much traction for appeal to SCOTUS, it doesn’t seem, unless SCOTUS has real heartburn over residency restrictions. (Let’s see how far that Packingham parenthetical goes with Kennedy gone…)

    I guess RCs staying in country are going to have to move into the 6th Circuit or PA to enjoy any form of relief.

    Here’s a link to the Decision:

  3. AnotherAnon

    7th Circuit ruling will force registered sex offenders from homes
    “will permit the Chicago Police to retroactively evict registered citizens from their homes to comply with the state’s residency restrictions.”

    The opinion.

    If the story was about the family that had to move, including children, the start of the opinion would have to be dramatically different because it would have to recount those faces, not the facts of conviction, which is why I always argue that RC’s families should sue, not the RC. These kinds of opinions are stuck in history, the history of the offense, while ignoring the current suffering of RC’s families. Both of these men had relatively milder facts of conviction (non-contact) but it made no difference under the law. Anyone know who their lawyers were?

    • Happy, joyous and free

      You are not alone in this idea of the families of RCs suing. This was a topic that Vicki Henry, myself and several others discussed four years ago during dinner while attending the NARSOL conference in Dallas, TX. I cannot speak in regards of the attorneys in the cases you mention.

    • CR

      “If the story was about the family that had to move, including children, the start of the opinion would have to be dramatically different because it would have to recount those faces, not the facts of conviction, which is why I always argue that RC’s families should sue, not the RC.”

      Well said, and exactly right. Even if the decision turned out the same, it would likely change the tenor of the ruling, maybe broaden understanding of the harms of the registry laws among other jurists and court followers, possibly even among some of the public if it were advantageously publicized. It would be a better vehicle to expose the myths and outright lies that legislature’s employ to justify draconian registry laws.

  4. E

    Second punch in the face on this Friday the 13th after the IML suit dismissal. Disgusting is a fitting word.

  5. Will Allen

    Pretty amazing that the anti-American terrorists who support this harassment want people who have shot children with guns to live near schools. I don’t know why they even want shooters in schools! I guess this harassment isn’t really about public safety, protecting children, or any of their other lies.

    F them. Wage war on the anti-American terrorists.

  6. Joe123

    Well, this 50/50 crap shoot via small lawsuits will continue happening until the core myth is challenged which keeps upholding the Registry.

  7. David

    “According to the 7th Circuit, the Snyder decision is “easily distinguishable” …..” from the Michigan laws because Michigan stated 1,000 feet from schools and Illinois only stated 500 feet away. Oh, yes, that a huge difference, you dumbass 7th judge!! 😡

  8. Two states east

    To AJ and AnotherAnon, and to the many great people who consistently comment ! The above comments by these two people are good examples.

    What I’m saying is that for 5 years now I read ACSOL every day, including EVERY comment. What I’ve noticed is that many comments are as important as the subject posted !

    Thank you ACSOL for such a great open forum !!

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