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December 15, 2007

Revision of major Georgia ruling on residency restrictions

As noted in posts by other bloggers, and as detailed in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the Georgia Supreme Court this week tweaked in an unclear way the reach of its ruling declaring unconstitutional the state's sex offender residency restrictions.  Here are details:

Last month, the state's highest court issued what appeared to be a sweeping decision that struck down the residency restrictions for all 15,000 registered offenders, regardless of whether they owned or rented a home or lived in a place for free.... In late November, Attorney General Thurbert Baker asked the state Supreme Court to clarify its ruling. The question, Baker said, is whether the ruling applies only to those who own property....

On Thursday, the court changed only a few words of its initial opinion, but narrowed its breadth enormously.  The clarification says the residency restriction is unconstitutional "to the extent that it permits the regulatory taking of ... property without just and adequate compensation." 

The attorney general is pleased with the new ruling, spokesman Russ Willard, said. It "should only protect property owners, not all registered sex offenders, from the residency restriction."  Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer for the Southern Center for Human Rights, disagreed with the attorney general's office's interpretation: "Courts in Georgia have repeatedly held that people who rent their homes have a property interest protected by the Fifth Amendment."

As I explained before, the Georgia Supreme Court's initial ruling was based on a somewhat peculiar takings theory, and this follow-up uncertainty flows from that reality.

Some recent related posts:

December 15, 2007 at 07:40 AM | Permalink

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