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U.S. Supreme Court strikes down NC law prohibiting sex offenders from using social media

On June 19, 2017, in a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court struck down a controversial law North Carolina preventing registered sex offenders from using social media. A copy of the full decision can be found here. The law made it illegal for a sex offender "to access a commercial social networking Web site where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages."

Justice Kennedy opined that... "a fundamental principle of the First Amendment is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more,"

This case originated from a convicted sex offender posting on social media, after successful winning a traffic ticket case, "No fine. No Court costs. No nothing. Praise be to God. Wow. Thanks, Jesus." A seemingly innocuous statement, but was considered a felony under North Carolina's restrictive and unconstitutional state law.

Justice Kennedy further opined that by barring individuals from using social media sites they would be prohibited from "knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge..."

Justice Alito, concurred with the majority opinion, but pointed out that such restrictions may be constitutionally permissible where sites were intended for underage or teen audiences.

If you feel that your constitutional rights have been infringed upon, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your options. The attorneys at Dinn, Hochman & Potter have significant experience in assisting affected individuals and in litigating defamation lawsuits. Contact the firm at 440-446-1100 for a free consultation today.

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