Outrageous! Ninth Circuit District Judge Thelton Henderson can always be counted on to make extreme–and sometimes dangerous–decisions. For example, he participated in a federal court order to release tens of thousands of felons from state prison recently, which will really do wonders for our crime statistics in California.
But this may take the cake. Last November, California voters passed Proposition 35, which requires registered sex offenders–that is people already convicted of sex crimes–to inform the police of their Internet identities, e.g., email addresses, user names, service providers, etc. This makes eminent sense as sex predators often use the Internet to troll for victims. But guess what? Henderson has issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement! From the San Francisco Chronicle story:
A federal judge on Friday barred California from enforcing a voter-approved law that requires 73,000 registered sex offenders to disclose their Internet identities to police. The requirement would discourage offenders from exercising their right to post anonymous comments online about a variety of topics, including social and political issues, with little apparent benefit to public safety, said U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco. “Registrants are likely to be chilled from engaging in legitimate public, political and civil communications for fear of losing their anonymity,” Henderson said.
Remember, these are convicted sex offenders. The public already has a right to know where they live under the law, and indeed, there are even smart phone apps to allow easy access to the information. I can see no First Amendment or other reason why police should not be informed of their Internet identities.
This ruling not only stomps on the will of the people–a Ninth Circuit specialty–but it sacrifices public safety on the altar of civil liberties purity.