Sex offenders rights to use social media to be heard by Supreme Court

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over whether sex offenders should be allowed to use social media websites on Monday.

The case comes from North Carolina after sex offender Lester Packingham accessed his Facebook account in 2010.

The court will hear whether a convicted sex offender, who no longer is under any court-imposed punishment, should have access to social media accounts.

Currently, state law makes it a felony for those on the state’s sex offender registry to access social media accounts if minors are also able to use those sites.

The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) and North Carolina RSOL filed an amicus brief supporting Packingham in the case.

Packingham was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a minor back in 2002.

The state argues the social media ban of sex offenders helps to protect minors from predators. However, Packingham is arguing the law is unconstitutional.

“Might someone use the Internet to lure a minor, yes,” said Brenda Jones, Executive Director of NARSOL. “But, denying First Amendment rights to 17,000 law-abiding individuals because five or ten of them might engage in criminal activity is an egregious misuse of the state’s power.”

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