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August 25, 2009

Ninth Circuit uphold application of SORNA against various constitutional challenges

Providing more proof that the Ninth Circuit is not as defendant-friendly as many think, a panel of the Ninth Circuit today quick rejects an array of arguments from a federal defendant convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in violation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”).  The opinion in US v. George, No. 08-30339 (9th Cir. Aug. 25, 2009) (available here), ends this way:

The district court correctly denied George’s motion to dismiss the indictment. The registration requirement under SORNA required him to register as a sex offender in the State of Washington, to which state he moved from Idaho, even though Washington had not implemented the statute. SORNA’s registration requirements are a valid exercise of congressional commerce power, and do not violate the ex post facto clause of the Constitution.

August 25, 2009 at 01:30 PM | Permalink


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Sex-offender issues cut across lib/conservative lines, Doug. Many many liberals who otherwise hate harsh sentencing make an exception for sex crimes.

I don't particularly like these laws, although I don't oppose them all, and I hardly think I qualify as soft on crime.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 25, 2009 1:37:12 PM

SORNA is a done deal unless someone can prove that registration is indelibly linked to other restrictions and therefore is now punishment, as the Alaska Supreme Court found despite the SCOTUS ruling.

Wallace v. State, 2009 Ind. LEXIS 401 (April 30, 2009) (pdf)

• Ex Post Facto
• Initial Sex Offender Registration Scheme
• Retroactive Application Violates State Constitution

Relying in part on the decision in Doe v. State, 189 P.3d 999 (Alaska 2008), the Indiana Supreme Court held that the state’s sex offender registration and notification scheme was punitive under the Mendoza-Martinez factors and, as such, application of its requirements to an offender convicted and sentenced prior to the initial passage of the law was unconstitutional.

Posted by: George | Aug 25, 2009 3:32:16 PM

federalist, given your name, could you perhaps explain why a law that makes it a federal crime to commit a state crime and includes a statutory regime that forces states to implement a very specific form of registration does not offend your sense of federalism?

Posted by: a real federalist? | Aug 25, 2009 3:34:57 PM

Federalist isn't a real person. It's an online character that some public defenders created to antagonize some of their colleagues.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 25, 2009 6:07:25 PM

Guys, I don't think I've ever defended SORNA. For the record, I am only tolerant of these laws. I think that they are over-inclusive and substitute for incarceration.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 25, 2009 6:21:27 PM

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