Packingham v. North Carolina

State statute violated the First Amendment by forbidding registered sex offenders from accessing websites if the site allows minors to be members, because the prohibition was not sufficiently narrowly tailored to the state’s interest in protecting minors.  This decision strikes down a North Carolina statute that makes it a felony for a registered sex offender to access a commercial networking site if the sex offender knows the site allows minors to become members or create or maintain personal web pages.  The statute violates the First Amendment because it is a sweeping prohibition of free speech on a medium that can be used for completely innocent purposes and is vital to many people, convicts included, in keeping up with events, people, ideas, etc.  Though the state has a compelling interest in protecting minors from sex abuse, North Carolina cannot show that such a sweeping prohibition is needed to achieve that purpose.

United States Supreme Court (Kennedy, J.; Roberts, C.J., Alito & Thomas, JJ., concurring in the judgment); June 19, 2017; 2017 WL 2621313


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