First Amendment

Federal Judge Blocks Law Requiring Sex Offenders to Post 'No Candy' Signs

Registered child sex offenders in Simi Valley, Calif., won’t have to post “no candy” signs on Halloween as a result of a ruling by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson issued a temporary restraining order blocking part of the ordinance requiring offenders to post signs on their front doors with the message, “No candy or treats at this residence.” The Ventura County Star and CNN have stories.

Anderson did not block provisions that bar the sex offenders from opening their doors to trick-or-treaters, from using Halloween decorations outside their homes, and from turning on outdoor lighting on Halloween.

Anderson said the plaintiffs challenging the law had made a strong showing that the sign requirement is compelled speech that violates the First Amendment.

“The sign requirement … poses a danger to sex offenders, their families and their property,” Anderson wrote. “Although the sign employs innocuous language, its function and effect is likely to approximate that of Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter —potentially subjecting them to the dangerous mischief common on Halloween night and to community harassment in the weeks and months following.”

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