BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal judge threw out on Thursday a Louisiana law that bans certain sex offenders from Facebook and other social networking sites, calling the prohibition an unreasonable restriction on constitutionally protected speech.

The law, which took effect in August, made it a crime for anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism to use networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks. Lawmakers, backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, said the ban was designed to keep sex offenders from preying on children in online forums.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, based in Baton Rouge, said the prohibition went too far.

“Although the act is intended to promote the legitimate and compelling state interest of protecting minors from internet predators, the near total ban on Internet access imposed by the act unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life in today’s world,” Jackson wrote in his ruling.

The ACLU of Louisiana sought to overturn the law on behalf of two sex offenders identified as John Doe and James Doe.

The organization said the terms used in the law barred the sex offenders from browsing any website that allows users to create profiles about themselves or that has chat rooms, instant messaging and e-mail — sweeping in everything from news websites to job search sites.

During a hearing a few months before his ruling, Jackson noted the statute would appear to ban the sex offenders from using the federal court website.

The attorney general’s office defended the statute, which was sponsored in the Legislature by Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas. A spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond Thursday to a question about whether the attorney general’s office would appeal Jackson’s ruling.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (24)
  1. oncefallendotcom says:

    It is nice to see that some judges actually get it. Jindal wasted time on this rather than the real issues of Louisiana.

  2. Shana Rowan says:

    I wish more judges were this sensible! One insanely restrictive law that makes people feel good but does nothing down, a few thousand to go.

  3. Vicki Henry says:

    There are over 763,000 registered men, women and children across the nation required to register. The “crimes” range from urinating in public, sexting, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, to looking at abusive or suggestive images of anyone from an infant to 18 years old, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape and incest. Credible studies advise that 95% of sexual offenses come from within the family unit, friend or someone know to the family and NEVER get reported.
    With regard to Facebook the same fear and false sense of security from monitoring, registering or banning but, there are two things to fear on Facebook. Parents should “know” how their children are portraying themselves. Many parents have been surprised to find the age as as other descriptive factors are embellished which they see as a game and there are many more people trolling Facebook than registered sexual offenders.

    Vicki Henry
    Women Against Registry.

  4. Michael says:

    As a convicted sex offender I will say that I support any effort to protect the children. It should be noted that not all sex offenders are after children and that the recidivism rate of sex offenders is so very low (5-7 percent depending on which studies you look into). To the point, all of this hyped up anti-sex offender campaigning and all of these restrictive new laws protect no one. 93-95% of sex offenses against children are committed by someone who is NOT on the registry. Yes, that does still leave some room for those very few repeat offenders, but these laws are created more for political gain than the actual protection of children. They are so unsoundly written and executed that they do nothing but severely punish the great many who are doing nothing while unintentionally overlooking those who pose a true threat.

    I respect a parent’s wish to keep their children safe but the vast majority of predators are not on the registry. Common sense will protect your children. Over-reactionary, draconic laws will not, will, in fact, only put children at greater risk. If only there was a way to de-program all of the mass hysteria and approach the issue from a more reasonable and effective angle. Why wont our lawmakers put some real thought into this instead of creating all of this costly, ineffective and unconstitutional knee-jerk legislation?

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