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International Megans Law as Compelled Speech

“The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l).” International Megan’s Law (IML), passed in 2016, prohibits the State Department from issuing passports to individuals convicted of a sex offense against a minor unless those passports are branded with this phrase.

The federal government’s decision to brand its citizens’ passports with this stigmatizing message is novel and jarring, but the sole federal district court to consider a constitutional challenge to the passport identifier dismissed the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim, deeming the provision government speech.

This Note argues that this passport identifier is more appropriately analyzed as a form of compelled speech, triggering strict scrutiny review that the IML’s passport identifier would not survive. Note on Michigan Law Review (pdf)

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Was it this Compelled Speech approach that CA courts denied with prejudice in an earlier ACSOL lawsuit? If not, is it a viable approach?


I am not familiar with the CA decision to which you refer. That not withstanding, I found the law review article thought provoking and well reasoned. This is certainly not a settled issue. That fact makes it a viable approach. The argument is based on the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which means the issue won’t be settled until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on it.

This compelled speech argument was used in Alabama to get the sex offender notice removed from a driver’s license. There is no clear consensus in the circuit courts, so it will still be a long battle. However, this is yet another issue–like ex post facto, what constitutes punishment, or bills of attainder–that can be fought over time.

The bastards have not won yet!

Yes, the main argument in our IML challenge was compelled speech. Unfortunately, the judge did not agree with that or any other argument.

This is only one judge what about another or difficult state

The entire premise of IML is that they are presuming what I will do in the future. My case for example, I had a non-contact offense, and I had no communication with any victim. But IML is predicting that even though I never had a hands offense or communicated with anyone before, that is what I will do if I am allowed to travel. So they are accusing me of a future crime which I never did in the past. And by stamping it on my passport I am acknowledging that, yes, I am that potential danger. So indeed this is compelled speech.

That’s literally the Static 99R scam right there. Non-Contacts = “more dangerous.”

another words action speaks louder than words, in which there were no actions, but words based on bogus speculation.

What is important to keep in mind is that the Static-99 is being used to “Predict” the risk of re-offense. The belief is that a non-contact offender is “more likely” to re-offend because of the supposed “ease” of committing a non-contact offense, such as cp or naughty internet chatter.. It really has nothing to do with the atrociousness of the offense. Therein lies the hypocrisy. A less dangerous offense (non-contact) punishes the offender more because the offense is being assigned a higher point total than an actual contact offense, which is “less likely” to be repeated.

Thats a very good point. I never knew that about Static99. That ‘ease of reoffense’ argument is like saying people who speed are likely to do it again because it’s so easy and most people don’t get caught. And that may very well be true. However, the ones that do get caught don’t get dealt the same punishment as the ones who speed and accidently kill an entire family, but with child pornography cases, lawmakers often don’t make the distinction.

Curiousier, you mean your belief is that. It is not the consensus belief, which is that non-contact offenders are more paraphilic and futher from the ideal genital-to-genital sexually intimate contact offense.

It’s kinda how the test itself treats it (the belief isn’t relevant). I have a score of 4 because my crime was non-contact against a non-relative and a stranger (upskirt photo). Had I instead chatted on line with my victim for 2 or more days, and then raped her in our first meeting, I would’ve scored a 2 on the Static-99, as that would’ve been a contact crime and no longer a “stranger” to me since I’ve known her for more than 24 hours (definition of a stranger for Static-99 is “knowing” the person for less than 24 hours). I guarantee 11 out of 10 people would choose the rape as the more dangerous person. They’d think you’re insane trying to explain to them that the test is saying the opposite.

A lot of good points here about the sham that is the “static 99” (there are many versions, right)? The static 99 defies basic logic on so many levels. Like how can you seriously judge/“assess” a person that has a non-violent offense MORE than a violent offense? Or how can you say younger offenders are more of a risk than older ones? The test is essentially condemning young folks for life, given that the static 99 test score never changes. Also you’re telling me that scoring people that offend against strangers are more of a risk than people that offend within their own family or friends?

I’m not to judge here against any RSO; but there are A LOT of basic things wrong with the static 99. It looks like it’s a test designed to keep people in the registry whose charges aren’t serious enough to qualify them in the tier 2 or tier 3 designation.

The future will be all about these risk assessments. The assessments are going to be sold as scientific/“evidence-based,” and there’s probably going to be a lot of bogus studies that back them. IDK how ya’ll are going to get out of that one!!

Exactly. When I went to Germany, there were two officers waiting for me (I knew it was for me since they were making all males present their passports). They took me to a room when I eventually had a interview.They asked me did I know why I was there and I told them “yes, I’m sure the US said I’m dangerous or something stupid due to a 20 year old conviction”. The guy interviewing was like “20 years ago?” I told him yes and started telling him about the mess going on here. They let me enter the country and told me I shouldn’t be punished for something so old and should be able to go on with my life without harassment. Had I been in another country that bends a knee to the Us government, I’m sure I would have been on the first plane back to the Us………..


If you don’t mind telling how long ago was this?

Earlier this year. I’ve also spoken to a immigration lawyer recently in Germany and they said I’m fine for the job visa. They said the German authorities are only concerned with any crimes committed in Germany itself which I have none. It also helps if you’re in a profession needed in Germany, such as IT, health care, construction, etc. If you’re in one of those and stand to make 43k euro or more, you qualify for the blue card visa and after 3 years can apply for residency for good.


Once my children (one of whom is the result of my crime) graduate and start college, this is my plan. I am no longer required to register under state law (non-AWA state), but have a military offense. I will be leaving approximately 7 years prior to my Tier II designation being set to expire. I am an Engineer, master’s level, all done since my release. I have been mostly successful, but none of us are truly “free” here. Maybe I’ll try to get my PhD in Germany for free while I am there.

There are 26 countries in Europe that allowed registrants from the U.S. to enter their countries prior to the global pandemic. Of that total, Germany is 1 of 4 large countries on that list. The remaining large countries are Italy, France and Spain. The complete list can be found on this website under the “INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL 2020” link on the home page. Please note that these countries allow registrants to visit, but not necessarily to live there.

Yes that is correct. I can only speak about Germany on these matters. Having traveled there and also spoken to a native lawyer, they said I’m fine and it would be granted. As I mentioned before, I’m in IT and my profession is in need, so it’s easier than someone who no real skills. I even spoke to the polizei concerning this and they said I’m good to come there for work and live.

Passport wording is no different than the case of words on state issued license plate.


That may be, but I recall a case in New Hampshire in which the courts ruled that a citizen there was within his rights to tape over “Live Free or Die.”

Everybody wants to know when last time any legal action against IML was done by Bellucci or other lawyers and what is outcome ?

@Bob – ACSOL filed two lawsuits in two different federal courts challenging first the substance of the law (2016 in Northern CA) and then the procedures followed in implementing the law (2018 in Southern CA). Unfortunately, neither case was successful. We continue to look for the “perfect plaintiff” and if we find him/her, we will file a third lawsuit. I have heard of a few other lawsuits filed outside of CA, but don’t have specific knowledge of them.

Thank you Janice. What does the perfect plaintiff look like?

A perfect or preferred plaintiff is one who has been harmed (and can show it without being refuted) by the compelled speech passport marking. Until then, it’s compelled speech (as we know it and discussed here but the court doesn’t think so) that hasn’t harmed anyone in the eyes of the court. Read that again, eyes of the court. Make sense? Court v reality just like Smith 2003 and frightening quote.

If it has harmed someone, then they need to come forward and become a Doe in a case to remove it.

I have a passport that just expired (I think it was LAST YR) and I will NOT renew it… ONLY because they are going to Give me a EVIL Mark on a new passport…

You don’t know that for sure. I got a new passport right before I traveled without the mark, came back and it was never revoked.

@ Jeff: There’s a good chance that your renewed U.S. Passport will NOT have an IML identifier on it. From all I have read and from my personal experiences, it seems to be the actual use of a passport to travel internationally that triggers the State Department to send a passport revocation letter.
If you were to simply renew your passport, and it came back without an IML identifier on it, and you threw it in a desk drawer and never used it, it is unlikely that you would receive a revocation letter. It appears that the State Department does not want to go through the administrative trouble of revoking a passport for someone who isn’t using it. Specifically, they want to identify those who ARE actually traveling internationally – not those who happen to have a valid passport, but never use it.

@ Steve: I was able to travel two or three times to Europe and back with my unmarked passport before I finally received a passport revocation letter. Again, it was the use of the passport that triggered it being revoked.

The state dept won’t ask you for your new passport until after you complete your first trip abroad. So go ahead and renew your passport.

Who is the “perfect plaintiff”? The 19 year old who had a 17 year old girlfriend 30 years ago? He will come off the registry next year and no longer have standing. The FedEx Pilot who gets his assignment 24 hours before take-off? Had him, if I recall. And how / where does one look for plaintiffs? If there was a public search for them, I must have missed it. Perhaps they fall out of the sky somehow.

If I recall, the first lawsuit was dismissed not on merit but for a lack of standing. Possibly correctly so, as this was before a single passport was revoked and replaced with a stamped one. That was over 4 years ago. Many passports revoked and marked, since then.

My optimism for success, or even another attempt, is limited at this point. Maybe no big deal as the Rona is changing travel as we know it.

Janice, does it HAVE to be someone who was not one of the plaintiffs in either of the two, failed suits?

Hopefully the right people come forward for lawsuits and can put this unconstitutional law in the history of useless laws passed by Rep. Chris Smith. Lawmakers that pass useless laws should have a marker on their lapel when entering the capital. Maybe UPS for Useless Politician Scumbag!! After all it will save society from the evil laws.

WE all know it is compelled speech. It is also overbroad. IMO only if a crime has been proven related to international travel should the distinction be made. International travel isn’t an evil in itself. Unfortunately IML serves the same purpose as SOR Broadcasts except the notice provided isn’t a passive gov activity. It as a proactive regime with stated purpose. Unfortunately that purpose is to protect foreigners on their own soil. And actually that is the job of that government and not the job of the U.S. GOV.

Protecting foreign lands and affairs is something we tax payers are sick of. Unfortunately Globalist interest have infiltrated our Congress in a big way. We will need to change that general disposition before we can get a handle on the trillions of U.S. debt load.

@ Tim in WI: Please do your research. Less than 1% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. Less than 1% …… that’s just as low as the reoffense rate of those convicted of sexual offenses.

Tim does raise a good point, however. The issue here is the use of government notification to “warn” other governments that you or I intend to enter their territory with the consequence that we, U.S. Citizens are subsequently harmed by this notification. Worse, this notification is not issued as a result of a finding of contemporaneous “dangerousness” in any way but simply because of the fact of a previous conviction, no matter how distant in time. Even worse still, the U.S. Government, apparently, issues that warning to include the scary assertion that the Registered Traveler intends to commit sex acts with kids in their country, an assertion totally without supporting evidence nor, according to the U.S., with no need for supporting evidence.

So, Tim’s point here is entirely valid. The U.S. is, effectively, disadvantaging their own citizens with the ostensible goal of advantaging foreign countries. I feel sure that this must be challengeable but many legalists, such as those at NARSOL, seem to believe that government has every authority to strip Registrants of their criminal conviction anonymity, even when it amounts to leaving them vulnerable to being refused entry by, and even to the predations of, foreign governments. This amounts, clearly, to “foreign aid” at the cost to U.S. Citizens. I think that it’s going to take more daring and incisive legal minds to develop an effective counter-argument. I don’t think that we have that, yet.

As for the ostensible one-percent of the U.S. budget going to “foreign aid,” I think that you would find that there is an awful lot of money not being included in that total which benefits or inadvertently hinders (think: military spending in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc.) foreign countries. It’s pretty hard to make trillions of dollars hide behind that one-percent.

@ Notorious: Just Google “How much of the US federal budget goes to foreign aid?” and read through the results. While you’re at it, why not ask ‘How much of the US federal budget goes to pay interest on the national debt?” (Eight time more than foreign aid. So if you wish to see things that way, then our lavish spending results in direct payments to foreign governments by providing them interest payments on the money we borrow.)

David, my point is that “foreign aid” can be construed both narrowly and broadly. I’m confident that there is plenty of money not included in usual accountings of “foreign aid” but which clearly does not benefit U.S. Citizens.

Any recent reports from Belize? My wife and I have traveled there several times and would like to go for a month or so this coming winter. I read today that Belize is admitting tourists again, I wonder if they have a problem with sex offenders.

These statements like “criminal act against children” are being used in such terms to make foreign countries compelled to take action with the angel watch on behalf of the US government, because people are squeamish if they discuss such topics like this. The US Government is assuming that a covered traveler that has complied with the 21 day advance notification under IML which none of that makes sense, is traveling for the purpose to commit criminal act against children, chances are giving the benefit of the doubt that it’s highly unlikely going to happen, and knowing about the serious consequences if caught should’ve help motivate covered travelers to stay out of trouble if they travel to a foreign country.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x