Court Rules Sex Offender Library Ban Unconstitutional

April 1, 2010

newmexicoindependent.com: Court rules sex offender library ban unconstitutional.

A Second District Court Judge ruled today that Albuquerque’s regulation banning sex offenders from libraries is unconstitutional. The law would create “an unacceptable risk of the suppression of ideas” and infringe upon the First Amendment rights of the sex offenders.

The ACLU of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) challenged the law and praised the decision by Judge Christina Armijo.

“No one questions the City’s purpose of ensuring public safety, but this regulation sacrificed library access for too many people who present no threat to library goers,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson in a statement following the ruling. “A regulation like this must be narrowly tailored if it is going to infringe on a right as fundamental as the public’s ability to receive information. For many people, public libraries are, as one court put it, ‘the quintessential locus of the receipt of information.’”

The ruling enjoins, or prohibits, the city of Albuquerque from enforcing the regulation.

The ACLU highlighted a part of Trujillo’s decision:

“This Court has struggled in this case to strike the proper legal balance between competing interests… On one side of the equation here is the City, which no reasonable person could or would contend does not have a legitimate and compelling interest in…protecting children from harm, danger and crime, especially crimes of a sexual nature. On the other side of the equation is a group of individuals that, no matter how reviled, nevertheless possesses certain constitutional rights. When those rights are burdened or, in this case, wholly extinguished by an action of government, this Court has an obligation to scrutinize the facts and the law closely, carefully, and objectively to ensure that, whatever the end result, it is just. In this case, having done just this, the Court concludes that the City’s regulation, as currently written and in its present form, cannot stand.”

Former mayor Martin Chavez created the regulation in 2008 with an executive order.

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