Reply To: Packingham: Unanimous Court strikes NC’s social media ban


Jeremy Heady

Most of us have been (im)patiently waiting for this decision for quite a while now. I am actually glad that Justice Kennedy, the same one who quoted the false statistic in Smith v. Doe, was the one who penned the majority opinion. One thing of note in the majority opinion is a parenthetic clause on page 8 that states:

(Of importance, the troubling fact that the law
imposes severe restrictions on persons who already have
served their sentence and are no longer subject to the
supervision of the criminal justice system is also not an
issue before the Court.)

This seems to me like an invitation from Justice Kennedy and the four who joined his opinion to challenge the registry on its face. I say we accept that invitation as soon as we have the opportunity to do so. In my view, Justice Kennedy is trying to redeem himself and make it right.

The concurring opinion had some troubling remarks in it though. While I agree with their assessment that the court did not give clear guidelines on what they could do, that could have been by design since the passage I just quoted suggest that those five justices are ready to rule in our favor against any restriction imposed on us after our sentences and government supervision is complete.

What bothered me most about the separate opinion though is their reliance on statements made during McKune v. Lile. This decision was brought up at least three times quoting misleading information again after being shown through briefs how this information is inaccurate or best.

One thing the court did not address, however, is the policy of social networking to ban registrants. While I understand this was not the question presented to the court, I wish it had been addressed. With that said though, if these sites try to deny access, could this case be used to claim they are denying first amendment rights? This might require another case.

This is a big win for us on the advocacy side. Thank you, NARSOL, for helping lead the charge in our efforts.