Fed. Dept. of Justice wants to dictate State laws. Comments needed

NOTICE: The last day to comment is October 13th

Hi All,

We need people to visit the Federal Register website today and submit comments on a rule change to the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

From out Legislative Director:

I have read over the proposed rule change to the SORNA Legislation (28 CFR 72). Please find my explanation on what is being outlined below.

What we are commenting on here is a modification the the wording of the Federal SORNA passed in 2006. Specifically, the rule change codifies the requirements of state registration schemes on a federal level. While these requirements always existed, they were more like “guidelines” that states were encouraged to adopt. Since last year, the courts have determined that the US Attorney General (AG) has the right to “interpret and implement” the requirements of SORNA. This rule change puts this in very clear writing and seeks to pressure the states and territories to get in line.

What we are commenting on is the attempt by the US to bend States’ wills and adopt the federal requirements written in SORNA (using the tier system that the Feds outline, the registration periods and durations, the information collected, etc). This would mean abandoning the decisions that each state / territory has made on their own as to what is best regarding their registry. States generally want to adopt these federal guidelines because it means more federal funding for their state law enforcement programs (JAG funding). Most states are not fully compliant today, however.

Further, the pressure that this rule change creates opens the possibility that states could pass a simple state law declaring that people on the registry “must comply with the requirements of the federal SORNA” (instead of the comply with the requirements of that State’s registration scheme). In theory, this would be an acceptable way of coming into full compliance with Fed. SORNA requirements.

This potential easy fix might seem attractive to states because they wouldn’t have to do the legislative and legal wrangling of finding what is right vs. wrong, civil registry vs punishment, constitutional vs. unconstitutional. This one-size-fits-all state law would simply state “we need you to do whatever the Feds say.” As a bonus, the states get more JAG funding.

The Rule Change (28 CFR 72) does not come out and say this, but it is something that advocates must be aware of in each state.

This isn’t about Michigan or punishment or effectiveness of the registry. This is about the coercion of States’ rights away from self-determination and the power of the Feds to unfairly impose their will on States.

Thus, our comments need to be focused on this issue and primarily this issue: States’ rights.

Public comments should read something like:

“The proposal by the AG creates conditions that could impose federal regulations on states that have their own ideas about how to best create and maintain SO Registries. This proposed rule change needs to be removed because it is an attack on States’ Rights. The rule change pushes States into a corner and coerces them to give up their own schemes in lieu of SORNA’s one-size-fits-all scheme because they fear losing JAG funding.”

Please visit the Federal Register website NOW and submit a comment similar to the quote above.

If this rule change passes, the worst case seems to be that the entire country would be under the Fed’s SORNA requirements. There would be no more state by state determination of how long, how often, what crimes, etc.

This scenario depends on States rolling over and accepting that the Feds can dictate laws affecting their state’s residents.

When it come to people on the registry, I am not confident that State Legislature’s would be willing to fight for States’ Rights.

On the plus side:

“the rule will benefit sex offenders by providing a clear and comprehensive statement of their registration obligations under SORNA.”

(NOTE: The Sixth Circuit Willman decision is a separate issue that just happened to occur around the same time. We are not commenting on that here.)

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8 Thoughts to “Fed. Dept. of Justice wants to dictate State laws. Comments needed”

  1. Camille

    There is NO plus side to this.

    This could put my husband back on, after he was taken off.
    And after he took a plea agreement.
    A plea agreement in which he agreed to 10 years on the registry in 2009
    You can’t just change the rules of the game after the game has been played and the winner declared that’s some BS!
    Seems to be a breach of contract at the very least

    1. Hi, Camille.
      I was also concerned by some language in the rule change that would apply SORNA retroactively. I am not very clear on how this would affect people like your husband.
      Have you listened to Registry Matters from a week or two ago? They cover this Rule Change in detail.
      Have you submitted comments yet? Has your husband? Did you ask a friend or three?

  2. Thomas Fritz

    Stop using sex offender laws against innocent people, that you know to be innocent!!! This is evil to do!

  3. Joe

    I thought that in a Commonwealth state the federal law couldn’t override state law is one was already in effect.

    1. Hi, Joe. I suppose this is one for our legal team, but I have not heard this idea before. Federal law, in general, is not overridden by a State or a Commonwealth. This is why US Supreme Court decisions are known as The Law of the Land and apply to all states and territories.
      It gets sticky, though, when one considers something like marijuana use. Here is an example of a federal law being ignored by dozens of states.

      1. Joe

        Randall, but, if the state has found something unconstitutional according to its state constitution the federal government can’t over ride that. the federal government has basic rights and laws but the states can go above those if the state wishes to do so. As long as the state doesn’t violate the federal constitution and your rights, the federal government can’t order a state to override its state constitution. this has already happened with the other decisions and SORNA.

  4. Jon

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. It would be nice to “fix” states like florida, but how does that work with states who are looking to change the state sex offender laws?

  5. mike

    hey all im a registered citizen sept 28th 2020 is to be my last day on this dreadful list after 10 years of hell i hope itt dont put me back on of cource im not off till they get good and ready to remove me wich is bs to

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