Court Keeps Sex Offenders on Facebook, Citing Free Speech
The 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago has deemed unconstitutional an Indiana law designed to protect children from sexual predators by limiting registered offenders' access to social media. Here's why the fight's not over.
The 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago has deemed unconstitutional an Indiana law designed to protect children from sexual predators by limiting registered offenders' access to social media. Meaning, yes, there's nothing illegal about a registered Indiana sex offender friending you on Facebook — even if a judge found their pasts to be "evil." The Indiana state legislature last summer called social networks like Facebook a "virtual playground for sexual predators to lurk," and banned registered offenders by law. But U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled Wednesday that the Indiana law was too broad and infringed on First Amendment rights, then reversed a decision from a lower judge:
The decision represents a legal split between sex offenders' virtual and private lives — state legislatures can freely impose restrictions like controlling where sex offenders live and making them register with police, even if they have completed their sentences. Before you get too upset over the "virtual playground" argument, Judge Pratt expanded in her decision on the concept that the Indiana law was too broad:
As the court points out, protecting minors froms sex offenders online is an important issue — and figuring out where to draw the line is important as well. This just wasn't the case for it, apparently.
The full decision can be found here:
Photo: Yuri Arcurs via Shutterstock.