SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ highest court ruled Thursday that it is unconstitutional to ban convicted sex offenders from social media sites.
Conrad Allen Morger was convicted of sexually abusing a minor and sentenced to four years of probation by a court in McLean County. That came with a binding condition he not use specific internet sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
During oral arguments, held in September in Godfrey, Morger’s representative said the ban is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment fundamental right to freedom of speech.
“Certainly I recognize that there is a government interest here, in helping to rehabilitate offenders, in reducing recidivism, and of course keeping our communities safe, particularly our most vulnerable members of our community — children. But as the Illinois statute is written, it doesn’t meet all of those goals,” Zachary Rosen, assistant appellate defender, said.
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed in a unanimous decision among the six participating justices. Chief Justice Anne Burke “took no part in the consideration or decision of this case,” according to the opinion.
The justices analyzed Illinois’ law by considering whether the mandatory social media ban is “reasonably related” to the goal of probation — which is rehabilitation.
Morger was a teenager when he committed the crimes and did not use the internet, Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in the decision.