Supreme Court Updates: Sex Offenders and Social Media

A unanimous Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law aimed at preventing convicted sex offenders from using social media platforms, like Facebook or Twitter.

The case was based on a North Carolina sex offender who posted on Facebook (using an alias) after he beat a traffic ticket.  His post read: “No fine. No Court costs. No nothing.  Praise be to God.  Wow.  Thanks, Jesus.”

The State had argued that the law was in place to prevent sex offenders from visiting places where children might be – a virtual ban similar to physical bans like barring sex offenders from playgrounds, schools, and other places.

The Court held that barring access to social media altogether prevented people from “the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.”

North Carolina and Louisiana are the only states that have such broad restrictions on internet access for sex offenders (though Louisiana limited its restriction to people convicted of sex crimes with children).  However, many states have laws requiring sex offenders to provide internet use information to authorities and may limit internet access as a condition of parole or probation.  It is unclear how these laws may be interpreted and/or affected in light of the recent ruling.

CLICK HERE to read the Court’s entire opinion.

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