September 23, 2020, 9:35 am
Dear Members and Advocates,
On Friday, the world lost Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her death was a great loss to the Court and to those who shared her ideologies, but it was also a great loss to our cause. RBG was one of only two Justices that dissented against the majority opinion in Smith v. Doe, the 2003 Supreme Court case upon which lawmakers and lower courts allow sex offense registries to survive. Even though the next generation registries are far more burdensome than the registries of 2003, the fact that Smith v. Doe has not yet been revisited, leaves us where we are today; waiting for another case to make it to our highest court. I had always hoped that case would make it up the ladder while Justice Ginsburg was still on the Court or until someone who shared her views could be appointed.
It’s hard to share a point of view on Supreme Court appointments without getting into politics, which is something we’re desperately trying not to do. Appointing a Justice is perhaps the most impacting power a President has. Whether you like or dislike whoever is in office, you’re stuck with them for four years and then you have the opportunity to vote for someone else if you want. Supreme Court Justices, however, are appointed for life! The impact of that selection will last long after the President is gone. The Supreme Court Justices are arguably more important than any politician. Even though politicians get to create laws, Judges determine whether they can stand. It’s like a game of rock, paper, scissors between lawmakers and Judges, where case law established by the court always wins. Looking at historic decisions, how they were decided and which political party the deciding justices were affiliated with, for our population the death of RBG is a tragedy that happened at a tragic time.
The other tragedy, as we have seen play out for years when it comes to the nomination process, is just how political the position is. Clearly, any individual appointed to the job will be someone who has expressed the same views as the person appointing them. For a long time, the Supreme Court was viewed as the ultimate defender of underrepresented minorities and the poor, but we now worry that is no longer the case. When we think about the impact the Supreme Court has had on racial minorities (think Brown v. Board of Education), women’s rights (Roe v. Wade) and criminal justice issues (Miranda v. Arizona), we worry about the future of those rights granted by these cases. Think about Obergefell v. Hodges (the 2015 Supreme Court case that held the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples) and remember what a close call that case was (5 to 4), consider how differently things would have played out had the makeup of the court skewed more conservative.
All that said; there are still glimmers of hope when we consider that Packingham v. North Carolina (the Supreme Court case that held government could not restrict a registrant’s access to social media) was a unanimous decision. It could just be that battles need to be chosen more carefully for the time being, in consideration of the values and beliefs of the current makeup of the Court.
The Packingham case is an appropriate segue into something else that we hope our members had the opportunity to think about. Last week we posted a video of Joe Rogan’s interview with Edward Snowden and encouraged people to watch it. There was a lot of insight and great information that came out of the podcast, but one discussion that we thought was particularly relevant was the concept of “deplatforming”. Deplatforming is the act of denying an individual or group access to a venue in which to express their opinion. We see this happen to us all the time, whether it’s being prevented from attending a County Commission meeting in Brevard to simply being banned on Facebook. Snowden made the point that perhaps when a private entity such as Facebook becomes so large and widely used that there are no comparable alternatives to it, it should be considered a “utility”. We agree! Think of it this way; rewind the calendar 30 years and imagine what it would be like if someone with a criminal conviction was prevented from using the mail service or their landline telephone!
These social media platforms are our modern day utilities. Facebook is used to do everything from sharing a birthday greeting to voicing a political point of view. Today, being banned from their platform is like having the soapbox kicked out from under you in 1940 or not being able to make a phone call in the 1970s – you are cut off from social and political discourse. Just one month ago, our weekly update (Recording 105#) concerned this concept, which is why we were so excited to have it mentioned in this podcast. This is something that we want to keep on the front burner. The tactics used to banish people on the registry can become a slippery slope. If they are allowed to stand against one group, they will soon be applied against others. By virtue of the fact that someone has coined the term “deplatforming”, we can see that beginning to happen – which offers hope for change.
Finally, we have one week to raise $1600 to reach our matching contribution goal which will enable us to bring the Non-Registrant Collateral Consequences Challenge! Please help us reach this goal by donating here.
The Florida Action Committee
Sep 23 Wednesday at 7:00 pm ET. Do you want to be a County Coordinator? For current County Coordinators and members who want to become a County Coordinator for FAC. Dial 605-472-5596 Access 436675#. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 605-472-5596. You will receive a call-back, enter access code 436675# and be connected to the training meeting. If you are unable to attend and want to be participate in the training, contact email@example.com.
Sep 28 Monday at 7:00pm ET. This will be the last scheduled call for the Brevard group until further notice; members from other counties are always welcome to call-in. Our goal is to reach out to the rest of the registered citizens in Brevard County.
Oct 1 Thursday at 8:00pm ET Monthly Membership call. Guest Dr. Lisa Anne Zilney, Topic: Guilt by Association: Labeling Research. Dial 319-527-3487. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.
Oct 8 Thursday at 8:00pm ET New Member Orientation Call. Dial 319-527-3487. Learn more about the FAC organization, resources, and volunteer opportunities. All members are welcome to call. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
The Seventh Circuit on Friday weighed the intrusiveness of a Wisconsin statute that institutes lifetime GPS monitoring of certain convicted sex offenders against the necessity of preventing further offenses from that particular class of criminals. The underlying suit…
State officials are considering changes to the sex offender registry, starting with deeper data gathering to determine whether it is safe for more offenders to be removed from the system after long-term treatment and no repeat crimes. Monica Diaz, Utah Sentencing…
Description: Former CIA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden shocked the world when he revealed the misdeeds of the US intelligence community and its allies. Now living in Russia, he is a noted privacy advocate and author who serves as president of…
FROM OFFENDERWATCH’S PRESS RELEASE: OffenderWatch the leading sex offender registry management solution for law enforcement, and the Caribbean Committee Against Sex Crimes (CCASC), an initiative of nonprofit Zandoli USA, today announced a joint mission to deliver a…
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Author: FAC Contributor #6
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