February 18, 2009

Another ruling against federal sex offender law

From the Sacramento Bee:

In only the third such ruling in the nation, a Sacramento judge has found to be unconstitutional a statute that makes it a federal crime for someone to fail to register as a sex offender and relocate from one state to another.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton found that, in enacting the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, "Congress overstepped its authority under the (Constitution's) commerce clause…. This appears to be a plain usurpation of the state's police power."

Karlton made rulings this week in two prosecutions and threw them out, saying SORNA does not meet the U.S. Supreme Court's standard for congressional jurisdiction over interstate commerce.

At least 18 district judges have upheld SORNA, while only two others have found it is at cross-purposes with the commerce clause. Of the 12 federal appellate circuits, only two -- the 8th and 10th -- have addressed the issue, and both upheld the statute.

Related blog posts:

Court strikes down federal civil commitment law (January 9, 2009)

Challenge to juvenile sex offender risk prediction: Harsh federal law on shaky scientific ground (October 9, 2008)

Federal court strikes down portion of Adam Walsh Act (September 10, 2007)

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