Supreme Court sides with sex offender in registry dispute.
Make special note of the use of the word “punishment” in the courts order.
By Lydia Wheeler – 04/04/16 11:40 AM EDT
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that registered sex offenders do not have to update their status on a state registry when they move out of the country.
In an 8-0 decision, the justices said a straightforward reading of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act did not require Lester Nichols to notify Kansas that he moved to the Philippines in November 2012.
The case, however, will have little impact since Congress recently passed legislation that requires sex offenders to notify the government when they leave the U.S.
“Our interpretation of the SORNA provisions at issue in this case in no way means that sex offenders will be able to escape punishment for leaving the United States without notifying the jurisdictions in which they lived while in this country,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. “Congress has recently criminalized the ‘knowing failure to provide information required by SORNA relating to intended travel in foreign commerce.'”
Alito wrote that federal law now requires registered sex offenders to report their anticipated dates and places of departure, arrival or return; their carrier and flight numbers for air travel; destination country and address or other contact information while there.
“Both parties agree that the new law captures Nichols’s conduct,” he said.