Friday, February 14, 2020

Judge strikes down key parts of Michigan's sex offender law as unconstitutional

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2020 at 3:31 PM

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A federal judge struck down key portions of the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration ACT (SORA) on Friday, saying they are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland gave the state 60 days to rewrite the law.

The ruling was over a lawsuit filed by a group of sex offenders in 2015.

In his ruling, the judge said the state can’t forbid convicted sex offenders from living, working or loitering near a school. Cleland also said the state was violating sex offenders’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to divulge their telephone numbers and email addresses after they are free of jail.

In addition, the judge said the state can no longer retroactively enforce registry rules that were added to the law in 2011.

“For several years, registrants have been forced to comply with unconstitutional provisions of SORA,” Cleland ruled. “The parties, and this court, expected that the Sixth Circuit’s ruling would spur legislative action, and for some time, it appeared that the legislature was poised to pass a new and comprehensive statute, obviating the need for this opinion. Unfortunately, the legislature was not able to finalize a new registration statute.”

Cleland said he expects state lawmakers to redraft a law that is constitutional.

“The court anticipates that its ruling will reignite efforts to finalize a new, unified registration statute that can survive constitutional review, as has the national model, SORNA,” the judge wrote.

“The court will include this 60-day window until the judgment becomes effective principally to allow time for the legislature to craft and enact a new statute.”

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