A federal district court dismissed the recent IML challenge yesterday when it granted the government’s Motion to Dismiss a legal challenge to the International Megan’s Law (IML). That challenge, filed in January 2018, was based upon alleged violations by the State Department of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). A link to the court’s decision follows below.
Due to the court’s decision, the State Department is expected to expand its revocation of existing passports in order to add a “unique identifier” stating that the individual has been convicted of a sex offense involving a minor. The State Department is also expected to add a “unique identifier” to newly issued passports.
“We disagree strongly with the court’s decision in this case and we will seriously consider filing an appeal of that decision,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “The State Department’s failure to request and consider comments from the public, including individuals required to register, could result in harm, including physical harm, to registrants who travel overseas as well as to those with whom they travel.”
According to the courts’ decision, the contested regulations issued by the State Department are “interpretive rules” and therefore exempt from the notice and comment requirements of the APA. That is because the agency’s regulations — which include denial of passport cards — merely clarified “minor ambiguities” in the language of the IML.
In its decision, the court included a brief discussion of the notification provisions of the IML which allow the U.S. government to notify other governments that an individual convicted of a sex offense involving a minor will soon travel to that country. In its discussion, the court emphasized that such notices could be sent with regard to anyone who has suffered such a conviction regardless of whether they are currently required to register.
“In a prior challenge to the IML, the federal government testified that although they have the authority to send notices about a person who is not currently required to register, they have chosen not to exercise that authority,” stated Bellucci. “Unfortunately, there are already known situations where the government has sent notices to other countries about such persons.”