CA: Federal Court Denies Government’s Motion to Dismiss SORNA Claims

Source: ACSOL

A federal court today issued a decision that denies a motion to dismiss two claims filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the pending SORNA lawsuit.  The focus of the decision is the application of the recently issued SORNA regulations.

The federal government has argued in the past that the SORNA regulations apply to every person convicted of a sex offense unless there has been a court finding of innocence.  Plaintiffs have argued that the SORNA regulations apply only to those who are currently required to register.

In its decision, the court criticized the federal government stating that DOJ “has not provided any clarification or further explanation” regarding the applicability of the regulations.  Instead, the court noted that the federal government has asserted that “it need not concern itself with the peculiarities of state law” even though most individuals are convicted in state court, not federal court, of a sex offense.  

The court also noted that if the court were to accept the federal government’s assertion regarding applicability of the regulations, “many offenders across the country who cannot register with their states are apparently supposed to hope they are not prosecuted by the federal government, and if they are, they should try to prove ‘impossibility’ at trial.”  The court further noted that the federal government’s assertion reflects “a maximalist interpretation of the federal scheme.” 

“Today’s decision is a significant victory for registrants and their loved ones,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “This challenge, filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation and led by attorney Caleb Kruckenberg, will now continue with all of its claims intact.”

An important part of today’s decision is the court’s invitation for both parties to file motions for summary judgment in the case.  As noted by the court, filing such motions will create an administrative record that is missing at this time.  The court opined that “(w)ithout assessing the administrative record, the Court can just as easily conclude that the DOJ simply created some reasonable-sounding principles out of thin air.”  

Today’s decision does not change in any way the Preliminary Injunction granted by the court that protects all registrants in California from the SORNA regulations.  The injunction, however, does not apply to registrants who reside outside of that state.


Download a PDF of the order:

Order Denying Motion to Dismiss – July 2023

Related posts

Notify of

We welcome a lively discussion with all view points - keeping in mind...


  1. Your submission will be reviewed by one of our volunteer moderators. Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  2. Please keep the tone of your comment civil and courteous. This is a public forum.
  3. Swear words should be starred out such as f*k and s*t and a**
  4. Please avoid the use of derogatory labels.  Use person-first language.
  5. Please stay on topic - both in terms of the organization in general and this post in particular.
  6. Please refrain from general political statements in (dis)favor of one of the major parties or their representatives.
  7. Please take personal conversations off this forum.
  8. We will not publish any comments advocating for violent or any illegal action.
  9. We cannot connect participants privately - feel free to leave your contact info here. You may want to create a new / free, readily available email address that are not personally identifiable.
  10. Please refrain from copying and pasting repetitive and lengthy amounts of text.
  11. Please do not post in all Caps.
  12. If you wish to link to a serious and relevant media article, legitimate advocacy group or other pertinent web site / document, please provide the full link. No abbreviated / obfuscated links. Posts that include a URL may take considerably longer to be approved.
  13. We suggest to compose lengthy comments in a desktop text editor and copy and paste them into the comment form
  14. We will not publish any posts containing any names not mentioned in the original article.
  15. Please choose a short user name that does not contain links to other web sites or identify real people.  Do not use your real name.
  16. Please do not solicit funds
  17. No discussions about weapons
  18. If you use any abbreviation such as Failure To Register (FTR), Person Forced to Register (PFR) or any others, the first time you use it in a thread, please expand it for new people to better understand.
  19. All commenters are required to provide a real email address where we can contact them.  It will not be displayed on the site.
  20. Please send any input regarding moderation or other website issues via email to moderator [at] all4consolaws [dot] org
  21. We no longer post articles about arrests or accusations, only selected convictions. If your comment contains a link to an arrest or accusation article we will not approve your comment.
ACSOL, including but not limited to its board members and agents, does not provide legal advice on this website.  In addition, ACSOL warns that those who provide comments on this website may or may not be legal professionals on whose advice one can reasonably rely.  

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thank you, Pacific Legal Foundation, for continuing to fight for the rights of registrants and their families! Today’s decision is a great result for which you are to be commended.

Great news!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
I love a good DOJ smackdown! 🤣🤣

And especially notable (in light of the courts previous rulings) is: “the court’s invitation for both parties to file motions for summary judgment in the case.”

Great job! Keep chipping away the foundation!!!

Either the offender is under the jurisdiction of state OR fed.
It cannot be both, although Administrative bureaucrats always prefer otherwise. I do not believe one state’s signed standard waiver upon conviction should be in play for all other states to use. Plea agreements are between a citizen and a state.
That’s the main problem with the DDI and the people’s use of it.
Cross jurisdictional concerns necessitating comparative law. IMO the 2003Rehnquist Court had the duty before them to limit the administrative state’s use of the registry database but opted not to. If they would have upheld their solemn authority this case wouldn’t have come to pass. It just wouldn’t be necessary.

I truly believe this case Smith v. Doe – 538 U.S. 84, 123 S. Ct. 1140 (2003)Will be over turned if it were brought back to the Supreme Court today ! I believe justice Robert’s call leagues, would make him eat crow.

Another glimpse of Hope. 🙏🏽 Thank you Cali, Michigan needs to follow suite. These unconstitutional laws will fall. Michigan residents have had these laws applied and forced upon the citizens for years the time has come that the truth be told, they have violated millions of citizens lives with these retroactive punishment laws. The Federal Courts need to act many people are imprisoned for life because of them, they know this is not fair yet they continue to apply more and more punishment year after year. In most cases years after a conviction has been served.


This sounds like it is good news, questions I have, first, what if anything actually changes? Where will that change be? sounds like only CA is affected? How does this affect anyone that is currently on the registry that may or may not be eligible for release after their time has been met, if at all?

Personally, I am about to hit the 10 yr min in CO to request to be released from the registry, but CO has a ‘wonderful’ statute that if you have more than one conviction, no matter what they are, you are reuired to register for life and cannot petition to the court. There was one change recently that for one particular conviction you can petition, but what really sucks is there is a (B) that is eligible (everything else is the same) and a (C) that is not, it is a sub statute of a sub statute that has not changed.

I am grasping at anything that can help me and my attorney convince the judge otherwise, and this statue (two convictions) was added AFTER I entered my plea (ex post facto thing here). Any suggestions, explanations would be much appreciated!

Great news thank you PLF

Thank you for everything you do ❣️❣️

Excellent news! Thanks again, Janice, for your great work… So appreciated!

This is a great result! Congrats PLF!

The court opined that “(w)ithout assessing the administrative record, the Court can just as easily conclude that the DOJ simply created some reasonable-sounding principles out of thin air.” 

The judge is onto the DOJ.

Have any of the ACSOL attorneys considered that the 2022 SCOTUS ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which narrowed the scope of the EPA’s regulatory powers to only those which Congress has delegated, could also be a precedent under which the DOJ’s authority to impose and enforce SORNA regulations could also be limited or eliminated? If Congress didn’t pass any SORNA laws, yet the violation of such rules results in criminal penalties, there should be a fairly direct case challenging the constitutionality of the DOJ imposing and administering SORNA, shouldn’t there be?

Oh Janice, Once again, an Angel in human form (you), for without you, we in California, would all be in BIG trouble. Homeless and under enormous pressure, and unable to sustain our very existence!! Yes, without YOU!!

Hopefully one of these days someone can afford to go after NY and change their rules where they overreach their jurisdiction on international levels.

I must admit my surprise at the poor quality of the USDOJs legal arguments. I watched the original Hearing before the judge (which I viewed via live stream last fall). The DOJ’s attorney was not very good in presenting SORNA’s arguments.
I expected, after that poor showing, the DOJ would bring in more experienced attorneys. Clearly, that did not happen.

“…. the court noted that the federal government has asserted that “it need not concern itself with the peculiarities of state law” even though most individuals are convicted in state court, not federal court…”

Same “take our word for it” silliness from DOJ. 🙄

But, hey, but keep the FAFO* escapades going, DOJ. I’m loving the results? 😃🤗👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

*F#ck Around and Find Out
(re: consequences for actions)

Last edited 7 months ago by David🔱

I’m so sorry for my confusion / not-understanding; unfortunately, having Aspergers (Autism) deficiency makes things sometimes difficult to “process”.

I take from the article (and comments posted so far) that this is a terrific court (judge) decision.

So my question basically involves with what all-of-this actually means ? And what happens next ?

Lastly; what (if any) affect will/does this offer me ? (I’m in PA, under Pre-Sorna as a result of a single NY conviction … as a NY Level 1 which Registration to end in 9 more Years). As NY Level 1 are 20 yr.

Thank you so kindly ….. but life sucks when you mentally can’t “process” things, such as these Court matters.

The federal government has its’ own role to fill. Not to usurp each state’s governance. They hope not to be noticed by picking on the less desirable in their eyes. We are citizens of this country and not to be continuously punished, by anyone.

It’s been said that ignoring a bully will get them to leave you alone. My experience is contrary to this. In my life, the only way I have ever gotten the harassment to stop was by standing up to them and fighting back, either verbally or physically if the situation calls for it.