MI: ACLU Sues State Officials for the Fourth Time over Unconstitutional Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act

Source: aclumich.org 2/2/22

Civil rights organization says it’s unconstitutional to label people for life without individual review 
DETROIT – Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU), on behalf of 10 people who all previously won federal court rulings that Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) is unconstitutional, filed a federal class action lawsuit against state officials over the latest version of the law. It is the fourth federal lawsuit the civil rights organization has filed challenging SORA in the past decade. The federal courts and the Michigan Supreme Court have repeatedly ruled that the earlier iteration of SORA was unconstitutional. 

Today’s lawsuit, Does v. Whitmer, or Does III, filed in U.S. District Court, argues that the new SORA statute, which went into effect in 2021, is also unconstitutional. Specifically, SORA fails to provide for individual review or an opportunity for removal, forcing tens of thousands of people, including people who didn’t even commit a sex offense, to be branded as sex offenders and subjected to extensive, and in most cases life-long restrictions, without any consideration of their individual circumstances, which is a violation of their due process and equal protection rights. The 193-page complaint also argues that SORA imposes unconstitutional retroactive punishment, including by retroactively extending the registration terms of thousands of people to life.

Michigan has one of the largest registries in the country; there are approximately 45,000 Michigan registrants, and almost 10,000 more who live out of state.  

“For nearly a decade, we have been fighting to put an end to an ineffective, bloated and unconstitutional registry that not only fails to protect survivors, but in fact makes families and communities less safe,” said Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan senior staff attorney. “The latest version of SORA is more of the same, and still puts tens of thousands of people on this list automatically without any consideration of their individual circumstances. What we’re asking for is very simple: consider the facts in each case before someone is tarred as a sex offender for life. Dying shouldn’t be the only way a person can get off the registry.” 

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BRAVO, BRAVO!! 🤗 Michigan ACLU and Miriam Ackerman are RELENTLESS and remarkable!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
I can’t wait to see her beat them again for yet another ruling of “UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!”

Last edited 2 years ago by David ⚜️

When will lawmakers start being held accountable for their blatant disregard? These blank checks without consequence is very tiring.

Very good for those on the registry. Could the State argue that they are following Federal Sorna? How likely would that argument stand?

So how much has this cost the tax payers so far? Maybe someone should tell them

This will effect everyone in the in United States eventually,
So I hope EVERYONE is paying attention!

This was actually the top story on the Detroit News for a few hours this afternoon. I have to say I’m impressed and surprised—I thought Does III was just going to be about retroactive extension of registration for 90s-era Tier 3s, but it appears to be so much more. Given this doesn’t build much good will for the ACLU, I have to think this is something they feel confident they can win at, and recoup legal fees.

I want to take this time to express my deepest gratitude toward Ms. Aukerman and everyone at the Michigan ACLU for taking this fight to the next level. While it has always seemed to me that most other chapters of the ACLU wouldn’t spit on registrants if we were on fire, your chapter is remarkably different. And for that, I say thank you! May this lawsuit be successful, and may its remedies come swiftly!

What bothers me is that Dana Nessel, the AG of Michigan, blatantly ignored/manipulated the ruling of a federal court Judge.

And yet, has the sickening response in the 37 AG letter (among other responses) to the ALI that “Making failure to register a misdemeanor takes away the TEETH of their ability to keep persons registered” (or close to that quote).

From Dana Nessel’s office –

I hope that the ALI can see who’s hands are unclean when they consider their vote.

Thanks Miriam Ackerman.

4th Time is the Charm?
The necessity of this fourth attempt is a stark indicator of exactly how poor the decision rendered by the Rehnquist Court was to uphold in the Alaska case. That panel was faced with ex post language in statute in plain English. By upholding the majority shit canned the courts constitutional duty, and more importantly their sovereign authority to reject Congressional attempts to use ex post language targeted upon crime already finished with due process. There is great social order in finality, and even greater social value in resolution of conflict. Factual order among a people absent finality cannot survive long. But SCOTUS 03 opted for the more popular position of politicians and the people with baseless assurances of efficacy from big tech that the application of database to the would work to ease the tide of violence. The people applauded the machine as the epitome of modern progressive social justice all while in reality enslaving human to database maintenance for life. Sad isn’t it how easily things so destructive can be brought to market ” for the good of the people.” Nevertheless here are MI ACLU going back to the court primarily because the authority of the court wasn’t heeded by Michigan’s congressional body in attempts 1,2,3.

ACSOL thanks Michigan ACLU and Miriam Aukerman for their continued and tireless efforts to challenge the sex offender laws in that state. This is a battle being fought on behalf of registrants and for that we are extremely grateful. This battle also highlights a fight between two branches of government — the judiciary and the executive. We wish Michigan ACLU and Ms. Aukerman great success!

I’m sure that donations to the ACLU with a note on how they performed this specific help for registrants would be noticed and maybe make it more likely for them to make additional efforts for us

Is there a ACLU organization in Texas? If not, why not? Texas has more SO than Michigan. TVRJ doesn’t have the resources to getting anything moving.

Like I’ve said before unless you’re a repeat offender or you purposely kill someone nothing should be life. You one. have one life and everyone should have a change to redeem themselves.

At some point, it would seem MI officials can be held personally liable for their actions. While the Legislature may think it can keep ahead of the courts by tweaking the laws “just enough,” at some point some judges will tire of the other co-equal branches giving them the bird. IMO, ACLU-MI (and, ironically, the State) is doing more to bring down the farce that is blanket registration than anyone or anything else.

Hello everyone, I was just wondering did anyone else happen to catch the news at 6pm on channel 7. They were actually talking about Does lll, and Ms Aukerman was also on there speaking about it. The State hasn’t responded to it yet, until they have a chance to review it. We all know when they do respond to the new lawsuit, they will have some kind of excuse and lie to tell. It was it was very interesting to say the least. Hopefully this lawsuit won’t take as long as the others, and it will become a class action lawsuit very soon, and another injunction will be placed on the state and registry untill this mess is finally fixed and put to rest for good this time.

Keep it up. Just give the bastards as much hell as they’ve given us.

What needs to happen now is as soon as this case is assigned to a judge, the judge needs to issue a TRO enjoining the defendants from enforcing the 2021 amended version of SORA until such time as all appeals are exhausted and a final order entered, or the Michigan Legislature does the right thing and brings it into 100% compliance with previous court rulings. Time and time again the 6th Circuit has ruled SORA to be punitive and unconstitutional, yet very little has been done to rectify it.
I think this lawsuit will finally be the nail in the coffin. It was well presented and raises several issues I have never thought of before. We will win again, but the question is, will we ever get the relief we are entitled to?
I’ve done my time and have been leading a very productive life since completing my sentence. Its time for the government to get out of my life and leave me alone because I am sick and tired of being treated like I am on probation. The court needs to do the right thing and remove all of us who were convicted prior to the registry being created. The 2011 amendment retroactively increasing the 25 years to life needs to be tossed out. Better yet, all registries just need to be shut down permanently, as they do NOTHING to prevent anyone from reoffending.
The money being spent on maintaining registries could be better used in public schools, or anywhere else it would legitimately benefit the public.

Everyone – went on Pacer today and there is A LOT going on. There are 10 expert reports associated with the initial complaint alone.

They are already asking to certify as a class.

They also filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Here is a snippet of it:

1. Plaintiffs now move for preliminary injunctive relief on six of the claims set out in their Verified Complaint, R. 1. Specifically, Plaintiffs seek relief on their claims that (1) application of Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA 2021) to pre-2011 registrants violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution; (2) retroactively imposing lifetime registration violates both the Ex Post Facto and Due Process Clauses;
(3) denying an opportunity to petition for removal from the registry to registrants who meet the same criteria for removal as petition-eligible registrants violates the Equal Protection Clause;
(4) SORA 2021’s Plaintiffs, extensive compelled disclosure requirements violate the First Amendment;
(5) requiring people convicted of offenses with no sexual component to register as sex offenders violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses; and
(6) compelling registrants to attest that they understand SORA 2021 violates the First Amendment.

2. Simultaneously with this motion, Plaintiffs are filing a motion for class certification. Named Plaintiffs seek preliminary injunctive relief for themselves and for those similarly situated, as further specified below.

A few things stood out to me after reading the complaint…

Massive lawsuit, could effect every MI registrant. Class action with multiple classes. Good job on finding right plaintiffs. Lot of work put into this by all involved.

Most of court declared unconstitutional facets of the law kept in the new SORA21 law.

Due process and equal protection, freedom of speech and compelled speech, vague, expo-facto civil rights violations and violation of plea agreements. Empirical evidence shows SORA21 underminds vs promotes public safety so SORA21 “is not even rationally related to its purported public safety goals and cannot survive any level of review”. Sora21 is animus.

Suit also raises empirical issues regarding the registry. Suit focuses on risk based vs the current offense based law. State has capacity to evaluate re-offense and has not. No attempt by state to see if law is “rationally related to the public safety goal it purports to serve”.

78% on the registry (@ 42k people) less likely to re-offend vs non-registered people per empirical evidence and possibly more with risk based evaluations – all should be off the registry.

Discovery will also attempt to determine taxpayer cost to the state for SOs.

“The restrictions imposed by SORA 2021 are grossly disproportionate to any legitimate public safety concern. SORA 2021 criminalizes ordinary behavior (that is not criminal for non registrants) and imposes wide ranging burdens on a disfavored group without providing normal procedural protections.”

“…nor can the federal government compel Michigan to violate citizens’ constitutional rights.” Yes, the feds should not compel states to violate citizens’ constitutional rights!

Love ACSOL and everything they have done, but man.. I wish they would file such a suit in CA before mine is done, which will be soon. Stay tuned……

Last edited 2 years ago by mike r

Another one of my favorite quotes in the filings.

Judge Cleland in Does II enjoined enforcement of the old SORA for more than a year, from February 2020 through March 2021. The sky did not fall.

I have a question. If the the court does put a preliminary injunction against those pre-sora 2011, could they still adopt the SORNA regulations and just say “well the injunction is against Michigan SORA, not Federal SORNA. Wouldn’t this be their incentive to say, “well u still are responsible to register per SORNA, independent of your State obligation.” Would the federal court also say that due to these new regulations? Just curious if this could be what gives them the ammunition to do this, since SORNA has not yet been ruled unconstitutional, and its very very similar to Michigan Sora. Any thoughts anyone?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom

I’m not sure how many have seen what there planning if you don’t get the poke. They are going to require to put them on a registry. They have used us as Ginny pigs and now there going to release on others now. Lets see how this pans out. Let people see if this is a punishment or not! LOL

For those of you who missed the Zoom meeting last night, Miriam Auckerman had some really good things to say and seems extremely confident about this lawsuit. Janice was also at the meeting and had good things to say. I was able to ask a question which Miriam answered for me.
Thank you to those who attended and to Miriam for taking time to speak.

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