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Florida : InterState Adam Walsh Act Unconstitutional

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida: USA v. Robert D. Powers Decision:

Congress Has No Power to Regulate Traveling in Interstate Commerce By Unregistered Sex Offenders.

On Friday, April 18th , District Judge Gregory Presnell in Orlando handed down United States v. Powers, a decision striking down part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 on Commerce Clause grounds. In relevant part, the Act requires state sex offenders to register if they travel out of state. Specifically, a state sex offender who “travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or enters or leaves, or resides in, Indian country; and [who] knowingly fails to register” with the sex offender registry can be charged with a crime. 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a).

On Friday, April 18th, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell on Friday ruled that the 2006 federal law requiring state sex offenders to register with law-enforcement officials when they move across state lines was largely a local issue.

As the Government notes, the Adam Walsh Act was enacted with a commendable goal — to protect the public from sex offenders. However, a worthy cause is not enough to transform a state concern (sex offender registration) into a federal crime. If an individual’s mere unrelated travel in interstate commerce is sufficient to establish a Commerce Clause nexus with purely local conduct, then virtually all criminal activity would be subject to the power of the federal government. Surely our founding fathers did not contemplate such a broad view of federalism. Accordingly, the Court finds that the adoption of the statute under which Defendant is charged violates Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

US District Court Decision

Links:

http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2008/04/district-judge.html

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-sexoffender1908apr19,0,1375426.story

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