U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court will consider constitutionality of law banning sex offenders from social media

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Supreme Court building.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a law that bars registered sex offenders from accessing Facebook and other social media.

The North Carolina law is being challenged by Lester Packingham of Durham, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to taking indecent liberties with a 13-year-old girl when he was a 21-year-old student. He contends the law violates the First Amendment, report the Washington Times, SCOTUSblog, Bloomberg News, Reuters and Courthouse News Service.

The law bans convicted sex offenders form using commercial websites that allow communication among users, unless those websites bar use by minors. Among the websites banned by the law are Facebook, YouTube and the New York Times, according to Packingham’s cert petition (PDF).

Packingham was convicted of violating the ban because his Facebook post declaring “Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks Jesus!” to celebrate dismissal of a traffic ticket. Packingham received a suspended sentence and probation for his May 2012 conviction.

The case is Packingham v. North Carolina.

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