The only advantage to having this heard before SCOTUS would be if they upheld the decision, thereby establishing a federal precedent rather then just for Pennsylvania. It will be vitally important to pound the recidivism statistics ad nauseum into the arguments as they have been used as the basis for supporting SORNA with the legal argument that EX POST FACTO doesn’t apply because the law is administrative, not punitive, for the purpose of protecting the community.
What is often overlooked is Section 4 of the AWA which prohibits certain offenders from sponsoring anyone… spouse, parent, and so on. The AWA was instituted to protect minors, therefore application to any beneficiary over the age of 18 is not warranted. This provision of the AWA is definitely punitive… in no manner does separating a man and wife from being able to live in the same country achieving any degree of protection for the community. If an offender’s victim was NOT a minor, then the provision is not applicable…. a little discriminatory perhaps?
It needs to be examined if the AWA has a severability clause.. without it, if any part of the law is deemed unconstitutional, then the Act has the same fate. I recommend that if the Supreme Court reviews this case that all parts of the AWA be subjected to review and not just the registration issue. It needs to be looked at, not just at the legal language of the Act itself, but the manner in which it is being applied… all sections of the Act. Even a cursory review of the application of Section 4 of the Act indicates that it is punitive and wholly unconstitutional.
I don’t minimize the importance of the registration aspects of the Act. Due to work changes, I have now been registered in 5 different states. Trust me when I say that they are not all the same. Some are fairly supportive with offenders, while others are extremely punitive seeking to humiliate and badger everyone who is subjected to registration. After 20 years of this, with no issues of re-offending, or violating registration rules, it is ridiculous to see how many of those conducting the registration have little idea what they are really doing.
I understand the argument regarding the community benefit of registration… but since too many of those doing the registration don’t understand the gravity of some crimes vs. others, how can they adequately advise the public? Being registered with local LEOs is one thing… dissemination of the information to the general public, who are generally ill informed, is disastrous. With one of the lowest recidivism rates, it is unrealistic, discriminatory and unconstitutional to continue this practice.