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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, declaring unconstitutional Ind. law prohibiting registered sex offenders from using social networking websites

In John Doe v. Prosecutor, Marion County (SD Ind., Pratt), a 20-page opinion, Judge Flaum writes:

A recent Indiana statute prohibits most registered sex offenders from using social networking websites, instant messaging services, and chat programs. John Doe, on behalf of a class of similarly situated sex offenders, challenges this law on First Amendment grounds. We reverse the district court and hold that the law as drafted is unconstitutional. Though content neutral, we conclude that the Indiana law is not narrowly tailored to serve the state’s interest. It broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors. * * *

We conclude by noting that Indiana continues to possess existing tools to combat sexual predators. The penal system offers speech-restrictive alternatives to imprisonment. Regulations that do not implicate the First Amendment are reviewed only for a rational basis. The Constitution even permits civil commitment under certain conditions. But laws that implicate the First Amendment require narrow tailoring. Subsequent Indiana statutes may well meet this requirement, but the blanket ban on social media in this case regrettably does not.

See this Dec. 2, 2012 ILB post linking to the audio of the oral argument before the 7th Circuit. See also this Oct. 19, 2012 post, and this one from June 24, 2012.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 23, 2013 11:15 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions