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December 17, 2009

North Carolina law that excluded sex offender from church declared unconstitutional

This local article reports on a notable new ruling declaring unconstitutional certain restriction placed on sex offenders in North Carolina.  Here are the details:

A North Carolina law that limits sex offenders' ability to worship unconstitutional, a judge ruled Thursday. Two parts of a North Carolina general statute aimed at protecting children from child molesters are unconstitutionally vague and overly broad, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour said Thursday. He said the statutes infringe on the constitutionally protected right to worship.

The decision comes after authorities arrested registered sex offender James Nichols in March for attending a Baptist church outside of Raleigh because the church provided on-premise childcare. Baddour dismissed the charges.

The statute says offenders must stay 300 feet away from any area intended for the use, care of or supervision of minors and any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled events.

Baddour said the laws "infringe upon protected rights ... to practice religion, which are fundamental rights protected by the First Amendment."

He added that it is impossible for a sex offender, law-enforcement officer or citizen to determine which areas fall under the category of a place where minors gather for regularly scheduled events. He ruled the law too vague to follow.

Baddour pointed to less drastic measures the state could take to protect children from offenders, including an exception already in the statute that allows offenders to be on school property for a specific purpose.

The full 16-page ruling in this significant case can be accessed at this link.

December 17, 2009 at 05:43 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Correctly decided, in my humble opinion. I do find it slightly disappointing, however, that the Court's holding is predicated upon the overbreadth and vagueness doctrines. I think that the issues presented by the Free Exercise Clause and, to a lesser extent, the Establishment Clause are of a far more interesting nature.

Posted by: JC | Dec 17, 2009 8:14:14 PM

With regard too the Sexual Offender Registration laws, the public dissemination of public information in such a way as to guarantee public humiliation, loss of privacy, reckless endangerment and threat of harm (even extinction), risk and humiliation of innocent family members and fellow employees and destruction of innocent children’s lives, has been ruled permissible by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)… However, the raping of individuals rights to residency, protection from banishment, right to affordable housing, restrictions on gainful employment, restraints against freedom of movement and lawful assembly, destruction of ability to assimilate into society, restrictions from access to public services and facilities, and general banishment from society, even retroactively after conviction and/or after a person has served their sentence, has yet to be ruled on. Please ACLU and others, please give the SCOTUS the opportunity to unconstitutionally screw up that ruling too.

Posted by: VDog | Dec 18, 2009 10:11:59 AM

An interesting conflict there. On one hand I can understand the need and importance to uphold the constitution and for everyone to be able to exercise their constitutional rights, however as a father, the thought of an RSO being allowed that close to innocent children, is more than a little unsettling.

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Posted by: Sexy Wallpapers | Feb 7, 2010 9:50:43 AM

children are exposed to a number of dangers. Parents who are drug addicts and the trash that is on TV and cable networks, each time you go into a store magazines full of sex, local football games with the the cheer leaders shaking and showing their stuff. Moms dressing their girls to look like women. Just a few months ago on HBO scenes of nude girls in their early teens, Gentlemen clubs that exploit women and restaurants like Hooters. Wow! how stupid is the American public. This Country wants the freedoms of everything but blames others when something goes wrong.

Posted by: Lee W. | Feb 13, 2010 1:03:18 AM

I am a convicted sex offender who is currently on parole. I have taken what is called a full-disclosure polygraph test proving that i have no minor victims in my past. I recently started attending church and my treatment provider told me I cant attend church.I currently live in Oregon and what is the statute regarding this...I can't believe this is happening

Posted by: michael schmidt | Apr 30, 2010 12:26:04 AM

I've worked with and ministered to SOs for several years and find that what interferes the most with reintegrating them into society after they've served their time is the attitude of the justice system in general and of Parole in particular. Sometimes it only takes one P.O. to work an ex-offender endlessly until he recidivates (not just sexually) just to get the P.O. off his back.

While SOs are the pariahs of our society, they are still human, and if we are to consider ourselves to be human, we must treat all humanity as such. No one is hopeless (as I can attest myself!), and we all need to extend the same grace we would hope would be extended to us. Common sense still must be used, but not at the expense of making their crime a 'life sentence' on the outside. They've done their time; now let them get on with the process of rebuilding.

Posted by: dge718 | Jul 15, 2010 5:14:54 PM

i'm not really sure how to put this, buti do understand that they have a right to go to church & all, but i'm curious are they supposed to make themselves known to all in the church or what are the limits to them attending???

Posted by: Tammy | Aug 28, 2012 7:14:46 PM

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