The case raised questions about whether such laws prohibit sex offenders from participating in web-based forums, which have become virtual town squares, as they re-enter society.“This case is one of the first this Court has taken to address the relationship between the First Amendment and the modern Internet,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
“As a result, the Court must exercise extreme caution before suggesting that the First Amendment provides scant protection for access to vast networks in that medium.”The justices sent the case back to the state Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision.“In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights,” Kennedy’s ruling states. Packingham was convicted in May 2012 of violating the 2008 social media ban and received a suspended sentence and probation.
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or have been in a dating relationship,” and who are able to establish that the person that they are or were dating committed an act of domestic violence against them. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16; (4) Have a child in common; (5) Are current or former household members; (6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. South Carolina’s domestic violence statutes apply only to “household members,” defined in part as a “male and female who are cohabiting or formerly have cohabited.” A woman who suffered domestic violence at the hands of her female partner — the two were engaged, but not married — sought a DVPO but was denied based on the above definition.“It is unsettling to suggest that only a limited set of websites can be used even by persons who have completed their sentences. Supreme Court overturned that ruling, saying in a 4-2 decision that the “incidental burden imposed” upon convicted sex offenders “is not greater than necessary to further the governmental interest of protecting children from registered sex offenders.”In North Carolina, where 14,268 people are entered in the N. Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry database, civil liberty organizations have paid close attention to Packingham’s case. The 2008 legislative package came about at a time that state attorneys general across the nation were raising concerns about social media sites such as Facebook and Myspace, hoping to protect users from sexual predators using the networks.Even convicted criminals – and in some instances especially convicted criminals – might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives.”The state Court of Appeals ruled the law was too broad and restricted Parkingham’s free speech. The 2008 restriction was part of a legislative package that Roy Cooper, the state Attorney General at the time, advocated for many years. Packingham argued that prohibiting him from using social media sites is a violation of his rights to “free speech, expression, association, assembly and the press under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”Packingham was convicted in 2002 of taking indecent liberties with a child. Though many of those sites now are more widely used by adults than children, the North Carolina law makes it illegal for a registered sex offender to access a website where he or she knows minors have personal web pages.“Even with these assumptions about the scope of the law and the State’s interest, the statute here enacts a prohibition unprecedented in the scope of First Amendment speech it burdens,” Kennedy’s ruling states.What could have been an amicable divorce can turn instantly acrimonious when one spouse learns the other is already having sex with someone else.The person who is not ready to move forward can feel left behind and this can lead to potentially harsher negotiations and legal tactics.