Mass. Supreme Court strikes down residency laws; Compares them to Japanese internment camps

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This morning the highest court in Massachusetts struck down residency restrictions in Lynn, Massachusetts! Kudos to the ACLU of Massachusetts who filed suit to challenge the law in 2012. National RSOL was right beside them—criticizing the law in a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief and joined by the Florida Action Committee, the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center and two sex offender treatment groups–the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and the Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

This decision will affect the application of residency restrictions in dozens of communities in Massachusetts.

Read the report from the ACLU; this includes links to the decision and to the amicus brief that RSOL and FAC participated in.

These are just the beginning of the media reports:

SJC rules against sex offender zone laws in Mass.

Mass. high court shoots down city’s residency restrictions on sex offenders

This is the court’s decision and a video of the oral arguments.

We are, naturally, excited over this. We have seen similar successes in California and New Hampshire.

We are cautiously optimistic that the dominoes may really be starting to fall.

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8 Thoughts to “Mass. Supreme Court strikes down residency laws; Compares them to Japanese internment camps”

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  1. Brenda Sontag

    Way to go. Can we get you guys in Texas!

  2. Delilah

    Please nevada next! Does this mean while on parole also ?

    1. sandy

      Certainly we would like to see this in every state. The suits must be brought in each state. It will require plaintiffs who are willing to see it through and, in most cases, can afford on-going litigation and attorneys who are in it for the long haul. RSOL and the other interested parties can help in writing the amicus brief, which reduces some of the attorney expense, but we cannot initiate suits in individual states.

      1. Quinn

        Does anyone know all the states that have passed this law besides Mass?

  3. Dianne Pedone

    Thank God, finally justice! Prayers for all states to follow.

  4. charles

    There have been several state high courts to rule SO laws unconstitutional, MA being the latest. Question: has there been any state AG to challenge these rulings in a high federal court and maybe even trying to get it these rulings before the US Supreme court? If not I wonder why. But it is long past time the US Supreme Court re-visited registration/residency laws. The Court’s Alaska and Smith rulings in early 2000s were not only bad ruling but also rulings based on bogus residivism statistics. In addition, their holding that registration/residency laws were “NON-PUNITIVE” was either stupid, naive’ or a flat out lie—take your pick but it was very wrong to say that these laws are not punitive. Its like someone telling you that 200 lb pig is actually a 10 lb poodle! I think the majority in Smith held this way because it was the only way they could get around the “Ex Post Facto” and “Due Process” Clauses of the US Constitution. Anyway kudos to the justices of the MA high Court for having the GUTS to stand up FOR the US Constitution and AGAINST those who seek to subvert it.

    1. rwvnral

      RSOL and its affiliates look forward to opportunities to challenge various aspects of registration if and when properly developed cases (based upon strong claims and solid facts) are available. The Supreme Court accepts very few requests for certiorari (less than 1% of those sought), so it’s imperative to present challenges that have the greatest likelihood of succeeding on their merits. In Smith v. Doe, the question before the Court was very narrow: Are state-enacted regulatory schemes which publicly disclose the past criminal acts of its citizens constitutional? The Court answered affirmatively. Without bringing challenges that overwhelmingly demonstrate the punitive effect of such regulatory schemes, it’s unlikely that the Court will reverse itself. Nevertheless, it is comforting that the Mass. Supreme Court has gotten it right with regard to residency restrictions. Still, the hard work is done at the lowest level of a Constitutional challenge where collecting statistical data, gathering affidavits, and supplying a federal judge with well-documented and factually based demonstrations about the harms of registration and residency restrictions have the potential to make their way into the inevitable appellate process. These are the kinds of cases RSOL is seeking to join.

  5. Arnold McMillan

    Florida definitely needs to drastically change its sex offender laws, regulations & policies regarding sex offenders. I’ve moved from Akron Ohio to TN, then to Florida & ran into its “registering” for life. Ohio Supreme Courts changed the landscape by saying that, the AWA was unconstitutional, and those under Megan’s Law will be off the list after 10 years. Just a note…