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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ban of Registered Sex Offenders from Library Violates First Amendment

Albuquerque’s ban of registered sex offenders from public libraries violates the First Amendment because libraries are public forums, and the city failed to show that the ban was narrowly tailored and that it left open ample alternative channels of communication. Doe v. City of Albuquerque, No. 10-2102 (10th Cir. January 20, 2012).

Plaintiff, a registered sex offender, challenged the city's exclusion of sex offenders from its public libraries. The district court concluded that the city's ban burdened plaintiff's fundamental right to receive information, and the ban did not satisfy the time, place, or manner test applicable to restrictions in a designated public forum.  The city appealed to the Tenth Circuit.

The Tenth Circuit Court determined that because a library is a designated public forum, the city had the burden to establish that its ban was narrowly tailored to serve its interest in providing a safe environment for library patrons and leaves open alternate channels of communication.  However, the city had failed to present any evidence as to the reasons or justification for its ban, whether the ban was narrowly tailored to address the interest sought to be served, or whether the ban left open alternative channels for receiving information. Instead, the city mistakenly contended that it had no burden to do anything in response to plaintiff's summary judgment motion. 

The court suggested that had the City presented evidence as to the reasons or justification for the ban, “it is not difficult to imagine that the ban might have survived Doe’s challenge, for we recognize the City’s significant interest in providing a safe environment for its library patrons, especially children.”  But, since the city did not meet its burden, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the city's ban was unconstitutional.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


  1. When is someone going to suggest that we just BRAND all sex offenders, like in Salem? These laws are so extreme and anyone who wants to know can learn that MOST on the registry are NOT dangerous, esp. not to prepubescent children. The Garrido case is the best example that a BLOATED registry does not make them work better, does not protect children more.
    But, because so many people don't know (and a drama-driven media, overly zealous prosecutors and unscrupulous politicians benefit from the public not knowing, it may take a while for most people to learn the truth.
    In the meantime, many many non-dangerous people (AND their families) are suffering who don't deserve it.
    Read Jim and Nancy Petro's book "False Justice" and Richard Wrights' "Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions" See the movie "Conviction" and Sean Penn's "Witch hunt" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0C2aQprdIM

  2. Thank you for sharing this article, I think that they should consider thinking of a different plan.
    criminal defense lawyer los angeles

  3. Sex offenders could also be considered criminals but they also have rights. If the government wants to implement rules that would hurt their rights, it should be done the proper way and with proper procedure. family lawyers perth