Sex offenders, perhaps the least sympathetic group of plaintiffs, are suing a Southern California city over an ordinance requiring sex offenders to keep their lights off and to post a sign on their door during Halloween.
The plaintiffs are a group of five sex offenders who say that the City of Simi Valley went too far with their ordinance.
The attorney representing the group even went as far as to compare the sex offenders to Jewish victims in Nazi concentration camps required to wear a star on their clothing.
The ordinance at issue prohibits registered sex offenders from displaying Halloween decorations, answering the door to trick-or-treaters, or having outside lighting after dark on Halloween night, reports NBC.
The law also requires that registered sex offenders post a sign on their door that states, "No candy or treats at this residence."
The law was passed to protect children given the risk of young trick-or-treaters knocking on the door of potential predators. But the plaintiffs argue that the laws violate their Constitutional rights by "forcing" speech and prohibiting Halloween celebrations, reports NBC. Their attorney argues that the sex offenders already paid their debt to society.
When it comes to protecting the interests of innocent children or convicted sex offenders, the rights of children will win out every time in the court of public opinion. No lawmaker is going to write laws that are anit-children, after all. And while it's true that even convicted sex offenders do enjoy free speech rights, this does not mean that government agencies cannot draft reasonable restrictions on speech if tied to a legitimate government interest like a child's safety.
For example, convicted sex offenders are already required to list their names in a sex offender registry that is open to the public. To an extent, this is also forced speech as the convicted sex offenders are already broadcasting the crime they have committed.
- Simi Valley's Halloween law is a bad trick, sex offenders say (Los Angeles Times)
- Sex Offender Law to Require Facebook Status Update (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)
- How to Use a Sex Offender Registry (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)