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Should sex offenders be barred from social media? The US Supreme Court will decide

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In 2002 Lester Packingham pled guilty to statutory rape after having sex with a 13-year-old girl he claims he was dating. He was 21; he says he didn’t know the victim’s age at the time. Seven years after his conviction, with a clean record, Packingham signed up for a Facebook account.

It was through this account, in 2010, that he posted a message celebrating the dismissal of a traffic ticket. North Carolina police were notified, officers searched his home, and although they found no evidence that he was involved in the abuse of children or any sex crimes, he was placed on probation for commission of a felony and received a suspended sentence.

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Packingham v. North Carolina. The case hinges on whether a state law banning use of social media by registered sex offenders is unconstitutional under the First Amendment—a provision of the US Constitution that protects freedom of speech.

North Carolina officials contend the social-media ban is necessarily preventative, applying to websites and apps accessible to users under the age of 18. Sex offenders are already banned from places where children might congregate physically—schools, parks, etc.—and the internet presents a logical extension of such laws.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

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