Alabama court upholds first amendment rights for registered sexual offenders

By Anna Beahm . . . A federal district judge has ruled parts of Alabama’s sex offender registration and notification laws are unconstitutional under the First Amendment, court records show.

The order issued on Monday referenced a lawsuit filed in federal court in 2015 that claims Alabama’s sex offender laws, known as the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act are debilitating, overbroad and too vague to be followed completely.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins ruled part of Alabama’s internet reporting requirements and branded identification requirements are unconstitutional.

The specific internet reporting requirements referenced include requirements for sex offenders to provide law enforcement with a list of any and all internet providers used and a list of any email addresses or instant message address or identifiers used, including any designations or monikers used for self-identification in internet communication or postings other than those used exclusively in a lawful commercial transaction. He also called the internet reporting requirements “overbroad.”

Watkins’ ruling also declared unconstitutional the state’s requirement for sex offenders to have a valid driver’s license or other identification card that identifies the person as a sex offender.

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