In Criminal by GWAO


Law prevented sex offenders from accessing social media.

The Supreme Court of the United States has struck down a ban preventing convicted sex offenders from accessing social media, according to reports from the Raleigh News & Observer.

Durham Police found that Lester Gerard Parkingham, Jr., a convicted sex offender, had allegedly violated the terms of his registry by maintaining a Facebook page. Gerard created the page under an assumed name. North Carolina had banned sex offenders from accessing social media on the basis that it might encourage recidivism because so many children and minors maintain Facebook and other social media accounts.

Gerard based his challenged on the basis of the First Amendment, contending that social media have become “virtual town squares,” which traditionally have rigid protection under the First Amendment.

What is particularly surprising is the Court’s decision, which was particularly strong with a 8-0 vote, meaning not one of the eight justices found that the ban was justified, given its scope. (New Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the case.)

In 2002, Parkingham had been convicted of taking Indecent Liberties with a Child, a registerable Class F felony. As part his conviction, Parkingham was required to register as a sex offender, like 14,268 other North Carolinians, according to the News & Observer’s report.

Subsequent to a Durham Police Investigation, Parkingham was then convicted in 2012 of violating the social media ban. The case was overturned by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which found that that the case violated Parkingham’s rights under the First Amendment. The North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals decision, which conflict made it eligible for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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