INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana law barring most registered sex offenders from using social networking sites such as Facebook is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The law that bans sex offenders from using sites they know allow access to youths under the age of 18 is too broad, a three-judge panel determined, and “prohibits substantial protected speech.”
To be upheld, the appeals court found, such a law needs to be more specifically tailored to target “the evil of improper communication to minors.”
The ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned a June decision by a district court judge in Indianapolis that upheld the law enacted by the legislature in 2008.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a class-action suit challenging the law on behalf of sex offenders, including a man identified only as John Doe who served three years for child exploitation. The offenders were all restricted by the ban even though they had served their sentences and are no longer on probation.
“We reverse the district court and hold that the law as drafted is unconstitutional,” judges Joel M. Flaum, John D. Tinder and John J. Tharp Jr. wrote in the ruling.
Republican state Sen. John Waterman, who authored the 2008 law, responded with a pledge to look for a new way to protect children from online predators that will pass Constitutional muster.
“We will study this issue again and make a new proposal,” Waterman said in a statement. “Then, it will be up to the courts once more to decide whether it’s narrow enough.”
Powered by Facebook Comments