When the IML was signed into law, a handful of observers saw it for what it was: bad policy. The sole representative to object to the passport identifier during congressional debate worried that the provision could lead to unintended consequences, including persecution and the risk of bodily harm.
Others denounced the IML’s provision as “vindictive and petty”and “premised on a profound and consequential misunderstanding of how sex crimes against minors are usually perpetrated.”This criticism of the passport identifier as policy is valid and important.But this Note argues further that the passport identifier is unconstitutional compelled speech. The government cannot validly claim that the passport identifier is owed the protection that courts normally afford to government speech. By conscripting passport-bearing Americans into warning others about their own prior convictions on the United States’ behalf, the government has run afoul-of the Constitution.The compelled speech doctrine protects passport holders who suffer this egregious violation to their speaker autonomy, particularly in light of the serious—even deadly—ramifications of the factual speech the passport identifier compels.
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