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March 2, 2015

California Supreme Court rules blanket sex-offender residency restriction fails rational basis review

In recent years, a number of state courts have struck down local sex-offender residency restrictions on a number of different legal grounds.  As this AP article reports, another state Supreme Court is now part of this group: "California's Supreme Court ruled Monday the state cannot prohibit all registered sex offenders in San Diego County from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park."

As the title of this post hints, the unanimous ruling released today in In re Taylor, S206143 (Cal. March 2, 2015) (available here), strikes me as especially significant because of the legal rationale used to strike down a state-wide voter-initiative law as it was applied in one jurisdiction. These passages explaining the heart of the ruling highlight why Taylor will likely be cited in challenges to sex offender residency restrictions nationwide:

In this case, however, we need not decide whether rational basis or heightened strict scrutiny review should be invoked in scrutinizing petitioners' constitutional challenges to section 3003.5(b).  As we next explain, we are persuaded that blanket enforcement of the mandatory residency restrictions of Jessica's Law, as applied to registered sex offenders on parole in San Diego County, cannot survive even the more deferential rational basis standard of constitutional review. Such enforcement has imposed harsh and severe restrictions and disabilities on the affected parolees‟ liberty and privacy rights, however limited, while producing conditions that hamper, rather than foster, efforts to monitor, supervise, and rehabilitate these persons.  Accordingly, it bears no rational relationship to advancing the state's legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators, and has infringed the affected parolees' basic constitutional right to be free of official action that is unreasonable, arbitrary, and oppressive....

The authorities we have cited above explain that all parolees retain certain basic rights and liberty interests, and enjoy a measure of constitutional protection against the arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable curtailment of “the core values of unqualified liberty” (Morrissey v. Brewer, supra, 408 U.S. at p. 482), even while they remain in the constructive legal custody of state prison authorities until officially discharged from parole.  We conclude the evidentiary record below establishes that blanket enforcement of Jessica's Law's mandatory residency restrictions against registered sex offenders on parole in San Diego County impedes those basic, albeit limited, constitutional rights. Furthermore, section 3003.5(b), as applied and enforced in that county, cannot survive rational basis scrutiny because it has hampered efforts to monitor, supervise, and rehabilitate such parolees in the interests of public safety, and as such, bears no rational relationship to advancing the state's legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators.

March 2, 2015 at 04:48 PM | Permalink


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Good to read ‼

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady @Bend, OR 97702-3212 | Mar 2, 2015 6:33:34 PM

Is it not what it seems? At least one lawyer in the fight says it is not a done deal.

Janice’s Journal: The California Supreme Court has spoken but what have they said?

Posted by: anon | Mar 2, 2015 7:10:25 PM

We should set out the modern standards of the rational basis.

Laws, regs, rules are remedies to harms. All operate on the body. So medical standards should apply.

1) A dose response curve should be graphed. Too little is ineffective. Too much of a remedy is toxic. Find the sweet spot of human dosing of a remedy.

2) Test in small jurisdiction to prove safety and effectiveness, and to grasp the unintended consequences. The latter should be tolerable, but even if harsh, should be disclosed to other jurisdictions.

3) Test in intermediate jurisdictions to test the effect of size.

Then enact broadly.

Laws are unauthorized human experimentation. The Helsinki Principles should apply. Consent has been given by the population by the election of legislators, however, we should be working on the "informed" element of consent. Human experimentation not complying with these simple, and basic principles should be considered to be crimes against humanity.

One may object to the years it would take to learn the full effect of a new law. Yeah, so?

In the meantime, desuetude should be adopted by all jurisdictions. If a prosecutor has not brought a case in 10 years, the law or reg is void. Not voidable, void. Publish the list yearly of all automaticlly voided regs and laws, as they are not necessary.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 3, 2015 9:43:23 AM

I hope the state Supreme Court's decision will stand, as by repealing these petty laws, the courts could diffuse potential unrest by sex offenders who have served their time and become embittered by petty Mickey Mouse restrictions on how close they can live to their families, to their jobs, etc. It's a wonder that large numbers of sex offenders have not organized themselves the way the Black Panthers and other radical groups did against petty discrimination. We're lucky that embittered sex offenders are not rioting about this.

Posted by: William R. Delzell | Mar 3, 2015 9:53:56 AM

if this stands it will really kill it. Since they are saying this about those on parole. Never mind those only on probation and more important the 100's of thousands on nothing but the illegal registry itself since they legally completed their court ordered sentence 10-20-30 years ago.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 4, 2015 2:52:19 AM

William R. Delzell | Mar 3, 2015 9:53:56 AM:

It is too late to "diffuse" any potential unrest. One of the main effects of the Sex Offender Registries (SORs) that I have observed firsthand among many people is that they kill any empathy that a listed person may have had or could develop and they transform the person into a bad citizen who feels that he/she does not need to have much concern for other people outside of their circle of family and friends.

I know the SORs did that to me and I don't think it can be fixed. I came to learn that most people in the U.S. are inherently bad people. They are good only when it is convenient and working for them. At the core, they are as evil as any "sex offender".

I'm not concerned about "large numbers of sex offenders" organizing and rioting. Rioting is no big deal and I don't feel it accomplishes much. But what is actually happening is that large numbers of listed people are striking unbeknownst from the shadows. They are not organizing and being public. They are retaliating in ways that are not being seen. I don't think it's a public mission, I think it's just a mission to harm people who are harming them.

Frankly, what I would love to see is that every time a criminal politician or harasser brags about the latest "sex offender" BS du jour, that the person gets murdered soon afterward. That would send the best message that the tolerance for their useless, idiotic harassment of millions of people is over.

BTW, people who are listed on nanny big government's Sex Offender Registries are called "Registered Citizens", not "sex offenders". Or, I personally prefer - Person Registered for Harassment, Restrictions, and Punishment (PRHRP).

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Mar 5, 2015 6:35:45 PM

Of course your crime may have no been a sexual one to land on the regisry, but if the government is so hell bent on "protecting the children",

How come lawmakers and the system is not allowed to prevent offenders from being near their "own children", of course since nobody is protesting, maybe there isn't a crises at all.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 8, 2015 12:18:23 PM

There seems to be another California Supreme Court decision finding residency restrictions ti be non-punitive: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/california-supreme-court-rules-residency-59598/

Two rather conflicting decisions within a day. What would this mean in practice?

Posted by: Seppo | Mar 17, 2015 8:51:49 PM

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