Prop. 35 May Violate Free Speech Rights of Registered Sex Offenders

December 18, 2012

A federal judge will decide whether a provision in Proposition 35 violates the free speech rights of registered sex offenders. The ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are suing to stop a part of the ballot measure from taking effect.

Proposition 35 toughens penalties for convicted human traffickers. It also requires registered sex offenders to give lists of screen names and internet service providers to law enforcement. That's the piece that ACLU attorney Michael Risher is challenging. He says even sex offenders have free speech rights.

"The First Amendment protects our right to speak," Risher says. "It protects our right to speak anonymously, and it protects our right to speak without telling the government that we plan to speak, or going through the steps of having to write the government a letter saying, hey, I posted a comment on this new website."

Attorney James Harrison represents Prop 35 proponents. He says, "even one case in which the information is used to prevent a child abduction would be well worth it."

A temporary restraining order is in place until the judge decides whether to grant a preliminary injunction.