North Carolina [SCOTUSBlog materials] that North Carolina's statute § 14-202.5 [text], which banned sex offenders from using commercial websites accessed by minors, violates the First Amendment [text]. Under that law, convicted sex offender Lester Packinghamwas arrested after police noticed a 2010 Facebook posting celebrating the dismissal of a traffic ticket. But many states have laws that require sex offenders to provide information about their internet use to authorities. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court after the case was argued, didn't participate. This law thus hinders their ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.
As in the first case, Alito agreed with Kennedy's ultimate decision striking down the law "because of [it]'s extraordinary breadth", but he expressed concern with the "undisciplined dicta" - language unnecessary to the court's holding - in Kennedy's decision.
'We have to protect young people wherever they are, whether that's at school, or at summer camp or increasingly online, ' said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, earlier this year, whose office was defending the law. Cooper was elected governor last fall.
Packingham sought to have the charges dismissed, arguing that the 2008 law infringes on the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. In 2002, Packingham - then a 21-year-old college student - had sex with a 13-year-old girl and ultimately pleaded guilty to "taking indecent liberties with a child".
Packingham's lawyers note that when they filed their petition Facebook had grown to 1.59 billion users.
In May 2012, a jury found Packingham of violating the law, and he was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation.
But Kennedy said the state failed to show how such a sweeping law was necessary or legitimate.
Many arguments can be made in favor of keeping sex offenders off of the internet.
"By prohibiting sex offenders from using those websites, North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge", he said. Those on the registry may not live close to schools or daycares. "That's after they have solicited the child".