Convicted sex offenders, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the First Amendment, November 19, 2014
California can't enforce rules tracking sex offenders online, court rules, November 18, 2014
By Karen Gullo
The San Francisco-based court Tuesday upheld a judge's decision to block enforcement of a voter-approved law that was backed by former Facebook Inc. executive Chris Kelly and garnered support from more than 80 percent of
voters in 2012. California
The measure, known as Proposition 35, isn't clear about what accounts or Internet service providers offenders are required to report and targets online speech that could include blogging about politics and posting comments on news articles, the appeals court's three-judge panel said Tuesday.
The law also harms sex offenders' ability to engage in anonymous speech because it allegedly allows police to disclose their online identities to the public, the court said. Failure to report on Internet activity can lead to criminal sanctions.
A requirement that registered sex-offenders notify police within 24 hours of using a new Internet identity chills activity protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, U.S. Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the unanimous ruling.
Attorneys for the law's backers had argued it doesn't regulate the speech of sex offenders and would give police a head start to investigate when a parent reports that a child has been communicating with a stranger online and was going to meet that person.
While the state has a legitimate interest in preventing sexual exploitation and human trafficking,
officials didn't show that blocking the law would seriously hamper the ability
of law enforcement to investigate online sex offenses because there are other
methods to do so, the court said. California
"There will be some hardship on the state," the court said. "Nevertheless, the balance of equities favors" the sex offenders who sued to overturn Proposition 35, "whose First Amendment rights are being chilled."
David Beltran, a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who defended the law, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the ruling. A call to Harris's press office wasn't immediately returned.
sex offenders and the American Civil Liberties Union filed named Harris and
Kelly as defendants in their 2012 challenge to provisions of the Californians
Against Sexual Exploitation Act. California
The ruling in Doe v. Harris, No. 13-15263 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2014) is available here
Older Articles About Proposition 35, How it was Sold to the Public (latest to oldest):
Proposition 35 And Why Anonymity Is Good For You, November 14, 2012
Prop 35 Passes:
Voters Approve Harsher Sentencing
For Human Traffickers,
November 7, 2012 California
Vote Yes on Prop. 35 to Fight Human Trafficking in
, November 3, 2012 California
Moms On a
With Jada Pinkett Smith, November 1, 2012 Mission
Prop 35: Increasing Penalties For Human Trafficking Convicts, October 23, 2012