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October 15, 2009

Time magazine asks "Should Sex Offenders Be Barred from Church?"

In this new piece, headlined "Should Sex Offenders Be Barred from Church?," Time magazine asks a question that always seems certain to prompt lots of different reactions from lots of different people in and outside the criminal justice system.  Here are some notable excerpts from this Time piece:

North Carolina is a proud member of the so-called Bible Belt of states that take their religion seriously.  So some eyebrows were raised when James Nichols was arrested for attending church.

His offense? Nichols, a convicted sex offender, had chosen to worship at a church that has a nursery where kids play while their parents pray.  Now Nichols, 31, who only recently got out of prison, is fighting back, challenging the legality of a new law that took effect in December prohibiting registered sex offenders from coming within 300 ft. — nearly a football field's length — of any facility devoted to the use, care or supervision of minors.

As more states have adopted laws regulating where sex offenders can go, it was only a matter of time before the noble goal of protecting children butted heads with the sacrosanct First Amendment right to worship where and when you choose.  Which takes precedence?

"This law makes it illegal to do things that are not wrong, like go to church," says Glen Gerding, Nichols' attorney. "When does the state stop interfering with a church's business? Will pastors be charged as an accessory for letting a known sex offender sit in a front-row pew and worship?"...

As soon as North Carolina's law went into effect in December, Katy Parker, legal director for the state's American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter, started fielding calls.  Offenders wanted to know if the law prevented them from going to church; pastors worried it would keep worshippers away.

Parker says the law was so vague that she couldn't offer advice, but she did put out the word to defense attorneys that should they wind up representing someone accused of breaking the law, the ACLU wanted to hear about it.  Nichols' March apprehension is one of two religion-based arrests that Parker is aware of.  "It's unbelievable that the N.C. state legislature and the people of North Carolina would not want someone to go to church for spiritual reasons and for rehabilitative reasons," says Parker.

But others think the ACLU is missing the point.  The premise of the law is sound, says Laurence Tribe, a constitutional-law expert at Harvard.  "If the moment you enter a church you don a cloak of immunity from the rule of law, then churches would become sanctuaries for crime," says Tribe....

Only time — and judges' decisions — will determine whether the new law bars offenders from attending any church (where children might attend) or just those with child-care facilities. What is clear is that those who hammered out the small print of the legislation are sticking by it.

David Hoyle, the state senator who sponsored the bill, says it took two years to pass, partly because legal advisers took care to word it to withstand legal challenges. The law is named for Jessica Lunsford, the Florida girl who was kidnapped and killed in 2005 by a convicted sex offender. Lunsford was born in Hoyle's district and attended school in the tiny town of Dallas, where Hoyle lives. He still talks to her father regularly; her cousin will serve as a senate page for Hoyle next year.

"I got e-mails calling me the anti-Christ and saying I'm going to hell, but we want to make the law just as strong as we can," says Hoyle. "We feel it is a good law.  When a person takes advantage of a child, I don't worry about their constitutional rights."

I am not sure what I find more notable and remarkable in this Time piece: (1)  the fact that one of the famous (supposedly liberal) constitutional scholars, Professor Larry Tribe, is quoted in this piece apparently defending the soundness of a law that seems to make it a crime for certain people to go to church, or (2) that a state senator seems to be proud about not having any worry about some persons' constitutional rights.  I suppose I am not all that surprised by the state senator's quote, but I was certainly surprised to see Professor Tribe quoted in defense of the prosecution of James Nichols for attending church.

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October 15, 2009 at 02:31 PM | Permalink


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Doug. I was flabbergasted at Tribe's comment too and I am rarely left speechless about anything. He can't seriously have meant what he said; either he was joking with the reporter or he truly has lost his mind. It's not even a rational statement.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 15, 2009 4:02:36 PM

The Supremacy partied with Tribe. He said, he knew Obama was The One. He has his name in big print, circled on a calendar from those days at Harvard. Obama's exams were graded blindly, and he earned his high marks, was the answer when the Supremacy suggested Obama was an affirmative action baby. Tribe did not believe that Obama was so mellow because of continued consumption of marijuana. The Supremacy demanded a urine drug test. Tribe does not believe he is on any short list for high judge positions, and the support was not self-serving.

I agreed the support was not self-serving. Tribe is a self-hating Jew. He supported our Moslem president who would allow Israel to be attacked, and would appease fellow Moslem heads of state, and do as they ordered. The Supremacy warned of the unintended consequences of such support, in the form of ultra-aggressive, extreme response to any attack on the US by the Moslem terrorist. Obama would kill many Moslems to prove his loyalty and to prevent his impeachment and trial for treason. There was already evidence of such in his intemperate language about Pakistan during the campaign.

The Supremacy voted for Obama in a swing state, to punish the American people for their many sins. The Supremacy believes Obama will be a vessel that will deliver many more torments to the American people, than already delivered, until their learn their lesson.

The Supremacy was not rude enough to demand Tribe give the technical definition of the word, reasonable. He did not point out to Tribe that the founders of the common law were rabid anti-semites, and that he teaches their law unchanged, his being a dumbass (a lawyer term of art, not an epithet). These anti-semites invented the rule that Jews must wear a Yellow Star of David if walking outside. The anti-semites gathered the Italian Jews funding their war of oppression against the Scot, the Welsh, and the Irish. They paid their "mortgages" by putting the Jews to sword, allowing English soldiers to invade their family homes and to do as they pleased with the wives and children of the Jews. Then they banned all Jews from Britain, in a law that was repealed 400 years later by Oliver Cromwell. This left wing, self-hating Jew, Tribe, teaches the law of these foam at the mouth anti-semites in a worshipful way. These anti-semites? Not even English. Heinous French administrators who took away the freedom of the British peoples.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 15, 2009 9:43:10 PM

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