Prop 35 proponents call on AG Kamala Harris to appeal sex offender registration case to US Supreme court (on Internet Safety Day)
February 10, 2014
Not-So-Safe-Internet Day: Attorney General Kamala Harris refuses to appeal sex offender online registration case to US Supreme Court
Law enforcement, survivors, petitioners ask A.G. Kamala Harris to continue to fight to require sex offenders provide internet identifiers to law enforcement
San Francisco, CA – Today, on the day that the Attorney General is set to visit Facebook on “Internet Safety Day,” the proponents and supporters of Prop 35 released the following statements urging California Attorney General to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Doe vs. Harris.
Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the District Court that ruled a provision in Prop. 35 requiring sex offenders to provide internet identifiers to law enforcement in a timely manner was unconstitutional. The office of the Attorney General of California must decide this week whether to appeal (or seek extension to do so) the court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and has indicated an unwillingness to do so – all while actively pursuing case to overturn the state ban on foie gras.
“You cannot promote internet safety by protecting the anonymity of sex offenders. This is clearly a case of misplaced priorities and indicates a blatant disrespect for California voters,” said Chris Kelly of the Safer California Foundation. “81% of voters wanted this law and the Attorney General is refusing to represent them. We urge her to reconsider and file an appeal to the Supreme Court. Someone needs to explain to the voters how this Attorney General can appeal the foie gras ban to save the lives of geese, but won’t appeal this case to save the lives of children who are preyed upon on the internet,” Kelly added.
“The reality is that vulnerable women and children in California are being sold online,” said Daphne Phung, Founder of California Against Slavery Research and Education. “This provision is a commonsense way to help prevent and solve these crimes. That’s why Prop 35 – which included this provision – received the support of over 10 million California voters and the endorsement of human trafficking survivors, law enforcement, service providers, and elected officials.”
All other provisions of Prop 35 are in effect. The injunction applies only to the one provision that convicted sex offenders provide internet identifiers to law enforcement.
“Data is a critical factor in fighting human trafficking. Overwhelmingly, Californians approved Proposition 35 to enhance the data we have about convicted traffickers and other sex offenders. The lawsuit to block Proposition 35’s common sense enhancement of long-existing requirements for sex offenders to report aliases to law enforcement will protect sex offenders from the consequences of their actions. It undermines the fight against human trafficking,” added Chris Kelly of the Safer California Foundation.
Given the prior rulings of the Supreme Court upholding sex offender registration laws against constitutional challenges and this ruling’s conflict with a Tenth Circuit opinion upholding similar requirements in Utah, there is good reason to believe the Supreme Court will take the case and overturn the erroneous ruling.
“In November, after a District Court ruling inventing new anonymity rights for convicted sex offenders, the Ninth Circuit narrowly upheld the ruling, contradicting a Tenth Circuit ruling on a statute similar to Proposition 35. We, the proponents of the initiative, seek to appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, as it is inconsistent with the Court’s prior decisions on sex offender registries,” Kelly added.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similarly flawed Ninth Circuit ruling on Alaska’s sex offender statute. As part of that ruling, it stated:
“The fact that Alaska posts the information on the Internet does not alter our conclusion. It must be acknowledged that notice of a criminal conviction subjects the offender to public shame, the humiliation increasing in proportion to the extent of the publicity. And the geographic reach of the Internet is greater than anything which could have been designed in colonial times. These facts do not render Internet notification punitive. The purpose and the principal effect of notification are to inform the public for its own safety, not to humiliate the offender. Widespread public access is necessary for the efficacy of the scheme, and the attendant humiliation is but a collateral consequence of a valid regulation.”
“The provision of Prop 35 that requires registered sex offenders to provide Internet identifiers to law enforcement is narrowly tailored and is no different than the requirement in existing law – upheld by the both the U.S. and California Supreme Courts – that offenders report their name, aliases, addresses, and other identifying information to law enforcement,” said Kelly.
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About California Against Slavery Research and Education
California Against Slavery Research and Education (CASRE) is a non-partisan human rights organization dedicated to ending human trafficking, starting where we live. The organization’s mission is to defend the freedom of every child, woman and man by empowering the people of California to fulfill our obligation to stop human trafficking. For more information, visit www.casre.org. Selected updates on the implementation of Prop 35 can be found at: http://www.casre.org/prop-35/news/
About the Safer California Foundation
The Safer California Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts to protect Californians from all forms of criminal exploitation. Created by Chris Kelly, former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer and a Silicon Valley attorney and philanthropist, the Safer California Foundation looks forward to the day when every neighborhood in California is as safe as our most secure neighborhoods today.
Information on Internet Safety Day can be found here: http://saferinternetday.us/2015-event/
An announcement of the AG’s actions to appeal the foie gras ban can be found here: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-02-05/kamala-harris-will-fight-to-restore-california-foie-gras-ban