at least two courts this year have sided with the critics and invalidated some or all of the registry law. In both rulings, the courts referred back to a line of U.S. Supreme Court cases from the 1990s that limited the federal government’s reach into state law.
Meanwhile, a third federal court temporarily halted the new law until it had a chance to hear arguments on the issue.
More is at stake than just the sex offender registries, observers say. Americans have become accustomed to national crime registries, and courts could throw them into doubt.
“Not surprisingly, given our increasing sense of informational entitlement and disdain for criminal offenders, we are seeing registration and notification laws spread to other subgroups, such as domestic abusers,” says Florida State University law professor Wayne A. Logan, author of the forthcoming book Knowledge as Power: A History of Criminal Registration Laws in America.