In an era of accessible Internet, it seems that almost everyone has a Facebook and Twitter account. However, the law in North Carolina barred convicted sex offenders from being present on social media. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down this law, citing that such a law violated the First Amendment.
State officials defended their case by using the case of Lester Packingham, a sex offender who was arrested in 2010 for celebrating the dismissal of a parking ticket with a Facebook post, “God is good.”
Justice Kennedy and the other Supreme Court members found this to be a bit extreme. According to USA Today, Justice Elena Kagan cited that social media was simply the way people got and received information these days.
“Increasingly, this is the way people get … all information,” Kagan said. “This is the way people structure their civic community life.”
North Carolina wasn’t the only state to back the barring sex offenders from having access to social media. 13 other states defended North Carolina’s bill through legal papers to use against the blatant use of social media since allegedly are used in one-third of sex crimes involving the Internet.
Their argument was quite clear: what can be harmful in the physical world can equally be so in the virtual world.
“While we now may be coming to the realization that the Cyber Age is a revolution of historic proportions, we cannot appreciate yet its full dimensions and vast potential to alter how we think, express ourselves, and define who we want to be,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s opinion
However, this ruling still leaves room for states to restrict who sex offenders contact via social media.